By Stuart Pollington, the owner of Smart Digital Group in Thailand and Smart Traffic Pty Ltd in Australia
If you are an SME in Thailand, a Southeast Asian business hub, you need to have a website. If you don’t, you’re almost certainly losing customers to competitors. Moreover, even though over half the world’s population already has internet access, the internet is still growing in popularity.
In this post, we’ll discuss the importance of having a website and how to optimise it, from creating and updating your Google My Website (GMB) profile to encouraging customers to leave positive reviews.
Starting out: Building a Website and Creating Your Google My Business Profile
First thing’s first – you need to create a striking website, and one that keeps visitors engaged. If a user clicks on your website and instantly returns to the search page because they didn’t find what they were looking for, then you are missing out on potential new business.
There are plenty of free online tools you can use to make a website, but unless you’re an experienced designer and have the time and resources to familiarise yourself with the full functionality of these tools, you’re better off hiring a professional web developer, which is inexpensive in Thailand.
Once you’ve made a website, you need to fill it with compelling content (see below) and verify your business with GMB. For SME’s on a budget, Google My Business really is an easy gateway to getting more visibility for your business locally. When you have a GMB profile, and with a bit of work on your marketing, your customers can see your company profile listed within the Local pack at the top of Googles search results for local intent searches. They can also view your location on Google Maps as well as details such as your opening hours and reviews without even needing to visit your website. These ‘localised’ searches will convert at a much higher rate as well. In the modern world of local search engine optimisation (SEO), having a GMB profile is essential.
To optimise your GMB profile, provide as much information as you can, which you’ll be prompted to do when creating your account. The more information that is available to users, the more likely you are to generate click-throughs and potential leads. Remember to log into your account periodically to make sure everything is up to date. Ensure your customers know exactly who you are, what you do, where you operate and who you serve. Take advantage of the Posts feature to highlight special offers and upcoming events. You can do all of this yourself although getting help from a professional SEO agency to set up your profile is a worthwhile investment.
Marketing Your Website: Creating Engaging, Shareworthy Content and Making the Most of Social Media
There’s simply no point in having a website if you don’t market it. There are now billions of websites live on the internet, meaning you need to put some work into getting yours to the first page of the search results for Google, Bing etc. Besides paid advertising, there are three primary ways to get the word out about your website: SEO, blogging and social media marketing.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of making sure your website is easily understandable to the search engines and visitors as well as increasing its authority. Think about what you are offering and how your potential customers will be searching for your services. What words will they use to describe what they want? There are free tools available online that will help you with keyword research, giving suggestions on what these potential customers will search for and how many times these searches are made each month. When you have found these keywords, look to work them into your websites page titles, headings and content in a natural way.
Once this is done you then need to create compelling content that is relevant to your audience, see blogging below. With this content you can put together a strategy to get other relevant sites to link to yours as a great resource. These links will count like votes and help increase your visibility for your keywords in the search engines.
It is possible to do this yourself, although using the services of an SEO company will avoid a lot of trial and error and get you increasing the traffic to your website a lot quicker.
Create a blog strategy
Blogging is all about trying to increase your search ranking by educating your readers, which means providing them with useful information that, with any luck, they’ll share with their friends. Think about writing ‘how to’ guides rather than solely talking about your services because users are searching for useful information and top tips. You might think you’re giving away industry secrets for free, but what you’re actually doing is building trust in your business so that you can gain the upper hand over your competitors. Again, if you have little experience in content marketing, you should work with an SEO company. If you can create compelling blogs and attract subscribers, you can start sharing news of your products and services to boost your online sales. (Find some of the top-performing blogs in Thailand here).
Use social media to your advantage
Nowadays, it’s crucial to share your content via social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. When you publish a blog, let people know by sharing it via your social media platforms, and remember to encourage people to share your content with anybody who may find it useful. That way, you can gain more followers and expand your reach. You can also use social media to ask for reviews.
Final Tips: Make Your Reviews Visible, Optimise Your Site for Mobile Devices and Improve Your Customer Service
Now that you have an optimised website with a GMB profile, publish useful content and post on social media, you need to encourage customers to leave reviews and make sure your website is mobile-friendly. This means using short paragraphs correctly and sticking to simple language and sentences (you don’t want to put readers off).
Finally, ask customers to leave reviews by email or via social media and ensure they’re visible on your website, your social media feed and your GMB listing to prove you offer outstanding customer service. Also, don’t forget to reply to comments and emails promptly. Contact an experienced SEO company for help if you want to maximise the impact of your website or learn more about operating a digital business in Thailand.
Stuart Pollington is the owner of the Smart Digital Group in Thailand and Smart Traffic Pty Ltd in Australia. Finding a passion for online marketing in the mid 2000’s, he has lent his digital marketing and advertising expertise to companies in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the Asia-Pacific region for well over a decade