Preparing Your Business’ Online Presence for Tourist Season

tourists on the beach under an umbrella

Do you run a business in the Virgin Islands that is heavily dependent upon tourism? If so, now is the time to get busy upping your online presence.

Why? For one reason, Google’s crawlers periodically scan your web site to review your content. It’s these scans that help Google determine how relevant your site is for a particular search. For obvious reasons you want your site to appear when someone searches for a word or phrase that’s relevant to your business.

How Long Does it Take for Google to Crawl Your Site?

The time it takes from when Google scans your site to when your content shows up in search results can take four to six months. Note that I’m not saying this is how long it takes for your site to show up on Google. When I launched the ampliVI site it appeared in Google search results in a matter of days – but only if I was searching for ampliVI to find it. It took much longer for the site to appear when I searched for Virgin Islands social media management.

Planning ahead can make a difference in how well your page ranks in a search. For example, if your business sells lamps, you might want to create individual pages that talk about reading lamps, floor lamps, table lamps, LED lamps, or lampshades. Try to think of what people who are looking for your business would search for, and these are the words that you want on your pages.

Where to put these words? If you sell services, make a services page. Or you could write a blog, with a separate post for each service. It’s OK to create both a services page and a blog page. On your blog posts, write about the items that you sell. Write a refreshed page about each item once or twice a year. Don’t delete the old blog posts – those help you show up in search results as well.

Social Media Can Help Your Online Presence

In addition to your web site content, make sure that you also have social media pages set up for your business. If you have a retail store, claim your Google My Business listing and keep the location map, phone number and hours up-to-date. The same goes for Facebook and Yelp. Even if you have not yet set up a Facebook or Yelp presence, your customers may already be on those sites reviewing your business. Claiming your page(s) ensures you get notified when someone reviews your business. Then you can control the message and respond to your customers.

Get Listed on Other Sites

If you rely on tourism to fuel your business, take your online presence to other pages. Manage your listing on TripAdvisor and our local business directories. Go To St. Croix, Virgin Islands This Week, Visit USVI are three popular sites that get a lot of visits.

The bottom line? Give Google plenty of time to soak up all of your business’ content. You will be rewarded by showing up in search results, clicks, and new business. Don’t know where to start? We’d be happy to help.

Why You Need a Google My Business Listing

Google My Business barbershop

Your Google listing helps people find your business online.

If you’ve been on any of the U.S. Virgin Islands for some time, you’ve likely joked with your friends about things operating here on island time. To some extent, it’s true!

With such a variety of people in our island community – down islanders, statesiders and those “bahn ya,” everyone has a different expectation of what normal operating hours look like. What do people do if they want to know your hours? They pick up their phone. Not to call you, but to look up your business listing on Google. And if they’re not looking you up on Google, they’ll say, “Alexa, what time does (insert your business name here) open?” Which – guess what – looks you up on Google.

Over the past decade, Google consistently handled more than 60% of search queries. * All other search sites combined make up the remaining volume of online searches. What does this mean for your business? For one thing, it means your business had better show up on Google, because the chances are pretty good that the person who wants to know if you’re open on Saturdays is using Google to find out.

Getting started with your Google listing

Google’s home for business owners to list and manage their Google presence is Google My Business. Here, you can publish your business hours, introduce your business to prospective customers, add photos, and place your business location on Google Maps.

Setting up your Google My Business page is easy, whether you have one or several locations. First, set up a Google account. You don’t necessarily need a Gmail address – your Google account email address could be you@yourbusiness.com.

Next, claim your business. Your business may already be listed (and there may also be reviews) thanks to publicly available information.  But don’t stop there. Claiming your business allows you greater control of what users see. Click on Own this business? on the right side of the page. Google will walk you through the verification process using information that only you, the business owner, should know. If there is not enough information available for Google to verify your business, you can request that your business be verified with a phone call or by a postcard sent via U.S. mail.

Unclaimed Google listings will show this text. Click Own this business? if you are the business owner to start the process of claiming your Google listing.
If you see this on your business’ Google listing, click Own this business? to claim your business on Google.

Verifying your business

Once you’ve verified your business, make sure that your Google My Business listing covers the basics, such as your specific location, daily hours, phone number, and web site. You can always add to your listing later.

Ensuring that your business shows up on Google searches means it’s more likely for potential customers to find you. It also gives potential customers a more complete picture of your business, which means you’ll likely get the right kind of customers.

Verifying your business is a quick and simple process that all Virgin Islands business owners should do. If you need help setting up your Google My Business presence, drop us a line. We’d be happy to help.

*Source: statista.com