Are you the owner of a local business in your town? How are you doing with attracting business online?
While you are probably very busy maintaining your physical store-front, it is also now more important than ever to maintain your online store-front and get your business recognised in local business search results. Unfortunately, many local business owners are lagging behind online, to the point where their websites have disappeared into the vast internet wasteland.
As a small business owner, you should know the importance of local trade. While the internet has certainly opened doors for nationwide and international commerce, many service-based businesses still rely heavily on footfall and local reputation. Before the days of mobile internet, local trade was almost given for most businesses, but things have changed dramatically in the past decade or so.
In 2018, you should be doing everything you can to get your local business as visible online as it is offline. Maintaining a nice storefront for passersby is one thing, but if your website isn’t up to scratch, you’re not on social media and you have no online presence, you’ll quickly fall into obscurity and start losing customers.
1. Focus on a Local SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
When business owners think of SEO, they usually think national. They want to rank for certain keywords and compete for huge volumes of traffic or sales, but SEO isn’t only for national businesses. Local business owners can benefit too.
If you’re a catering service owner in Lagos, there’s no reason you shouldn’t try ranking for terms like ‘Catering Services in Lagos’ to help people find you. You could do this with clever content marketing like blog posts, but also make sure the meta titles and descriptions on your pages reflect your location and what you provide.
2. Get listed on Google, Yelp.com, and Facebook
As we broached in the introduction, local listings like Google My Business are invaluable when it comes to winning local customers. If you haven’t got time to redesign your website or start a local advertising or SEO campaign, this is a great place to start.
Simply adding your business to Google My Business will see you popping up in local searches and Google Maps. You’ll be able to select a category, talk about what you offer and include contact details and even photographs. This is also the fastest method of getting reviews. If the consumer is opted in (which most are), they’ll even get prompts to review your business after visiting it.
3. Master backlinks and get good ones
Backlinks sound intimidating but they’re really quite simple. Simply put, a backlink is a link from another website to yours. If the site that links to yours has a good reputation, lots of traffic and is in good standing with Google, it’s said to have a good or high ‘authority’.
Getting organic links from high authority sites is almost like getting an upvote. For example, if you ran a web design company and got a link with the anchor text ‘web design services’ that led directly to your page, it would increase the ‘authority’ of your own site. This will make it easier for people to find you on Google.
4. Collect Reviews and Testimonials
Word of mouth is a powerful thing. A business with no reviews or testimonials versus a business with several is going to lose out every time, even if those reviews aren’t necessarily good ones. People want to know about other people’s experience with your business.
Use social media, run competitions, give your customers ‘thank you’ cards and ask them to rate you online. Don’t worry about opening yourself up to scrutiny; as long as you’re doing things right the good reviews will outweigh the occasional complaint, and it’ll show consumers that you’re a real business.
5. Submit Your Website to Directories
There are a number of online directories out there – paid, free, niche, etc. that you can use as a start for list building. Not all are created equal. Not all are right for all businesses. Here’s a small list. The best place to start is to outline your target audience, so you know where they are, and where they search.
A Few Online Directories:
- Google My Business
- Yelp for Business
- Facebook for Business
- Yahoo Small Business
- Bing Places For Business
- Foursquare For Business
- Yellow Pages
6. Go mobile-friendly
Creating a good mobile impression: A good mobile site can be great for business. More than half of consumers (51 percent) say they’re more likely to purchase from a good, mobile-friendly site, and 85 percent of mobile users will increase their engagement with that business.
Having a mobile-friendly website will benefit your reputation. Not just online, but offline as well. People will take note of a website they have a great experience with – and they will also take note of a website they have a bad experience with. Reputation is everything, and most businesses can’t afford to give people a bad experience – digital or otherwise. Websites that aren’t mobile-friendly are quickly becoming defunct within our fast-evolving digital landscape.
7. View your website through the eyes of a customer
You might think your website looks great, but does it truly deliver? A beautiful looking website can still have a poor UX, and a poor UX often leaves potential customers feeling frustrated before they bounce off to a competitor.
Raising your local profile online and making your business visible takes a lot of hard work and budget – don’t fall at the final hurdle by having a website that’s below par. Make sure you tell customers what you do, what’s in it for them and how they can get whatever it is you’re offering. If they have to frustratedly click around to find any of this information, they’re as good as lost.
8. Start a Blog and Engage with Local Bloggers and City-specific Websites.
A blog is a great way to talk about your local services and commitment to your local market. Share case studies or success stories of work you’ve done in the past in each town, city or county.
Customers love being in the spotlight, so use your blog as an opportunity to showcase them and highlight your great work. Remember to use the geographic location in your blog title and URL and promote your blog to generate inbound links!
Also engage with local bloggers from your area and share your knowledge and expertise about your service, you begin to establish yourself as a great resource and expert in your industry.
9. Be Active on Social Media
It’s important to know who your target audience is, as this is one of the most popular ways to get noticed.
You can promote any news, events and interact with your audience as well as post your blog content through the most common media channels, including Facebook, Google+ LinkedIn and Twitter. (Twitter even has local chat hours for businesses – try searching for your nearest ones using #townnamehour or #countynamehour.)
10. Guest Post On Someone Else’s Site
Writing a blog for someone else’s site is a great way to gain more exposure for your business, and get a reputation as an expert – especially if they’re well known in your local area.
Guest posting gives you an excellent opportunity to make new contacts with bloggers and hopefully attract some loyal readers. These readers could well evolve into customers, so guest posting is going to be beneficial towards your increase in revenue. Just make sure you stay within the Google guidelines for guest posting.
Not sure where to start? Let us help.
Deduice Design approach to marketing strategy is built on the simple and effective approach that helps start-ups, local business and everything in between. We’ll sit down with you to work out the best local marketing strategy to help you achieve your business goals. Contact our friendly team on 08034899491 or click here to get started.