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(MIKE BLAKE)
(MIKE BLAKE)

Grow: Mia Wedgbury

What are you? Fast? Easy? Friendly? Add to ...

What words would you use to describe your company?

The question is not as easy as it seems. If you're in the food service industry, it's likely you'd use words like “fast” “easy” and “friendly.” But anyone searching for a caterer isn't typing those words into a search engine. They're more likely to use “caterer,” “weddings,” and “events.”

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It's a basic example, but it shows how search engines have changed the way companies advertise and market themselves. And while many choose to invest in paid search campaigns to improve their ranking, it's also helpful to step back and make sure you're taking some simple steps to ensure that people who need your service see your name pop up when they search. The key is to not let marketing language get in the way of selling yourself.

First and most obvious, take a look at your website. Does it use the kinds of words people are likely to search for? The plumber's homepage will mention availability for emergency response in the event of a leak or a pipe break. And play to your strengths. Your store may be the biggest seller of chocolate in the city, but it's worth calling out the kinds of rare or hard to find chocolate that's not available anywhere else.

Next, get involved in social media. Search engines now include Twitter posts in their results, along with Wikipedia entries, videos and blog posts. That's reason enough to start tweeting about your company and getting your brand involved in online conversations.

Try your hand at crafting press releases, and send them to publications or websites devoted to your industry. Keep them short and focused on what you're announcing – a new store location, a new product or offering, or the start of in-store classes or seminars. Be sure to include keywords people will search for when they go looking.

There's an entire industry built around search engine optimization, and no shortage of offerings designed to help businesses get noticed online. But for small operations with limited time and budget, a few small steps can go a long way toward making sure your company doesn't get lost in the noise.

Special to the Globe and Mail

Mia Wedgbury is president of the Canadian region for Fleishman-Hillard Canada and its sister company, High Road Communications. With more than two decades of experience in creating and growing award-winning communications agencies, she is focused on fostering the overarching vision for the Canadian market. Her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle. She works in partnership with her clients, some of the most innovative and well-respected companies in the country, to build brands, mitigate risk and shape communications strategies that drive measurable results. Ms. Wedgbury is known as an innovator, an advocate of career opportunities for women and a dedicated supporter of the technology industry.

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