5 ways to get found locally online
If you’re a small business owner then you 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.
Today, even local consumers will frequently search Google, TripAdvisor and check Google Maps to find goods and services they need. Not only does this help consumers find what they’re looking for, they can also browse reviews, check photographs and see all of your competitors lined up.
If your business doesn’t appear in these local searches, either because it isn’t listed or you haven’t built up a profile, you’re likely to lose out to your competitors. This year you should be doing everything you can to get your local business as visible online as it is offline. Maintaining a nice storefront for passers-by 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.
According to Google, people who search for local services via their smartphones are poised for action. In fact, they found 50% of consumers who carried out a local search on their smartphone went on to visit a business the very same day. That’s a huge amount of traffic your business could be missing out on if it’s not visible online. The same Google study concluded that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from a friend or relative.
In other words, online reviews have a lot of sway and you should be doing as much as you can to earn them and showcase them on a Google ‘My Business’ Profile. We’ll talk about how to do that in a moment. Without further ado, here are 5 ways your business can build up its local presence online and start earning customers.
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 user experience (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.
Get local with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
When business owners think of SEO, they usually think national. They want to rank for a 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 an IT services company in Portsmouth, there’s no reason you shouldn’t try ranking for terms like ‘Portsmouth IT Services’ 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. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to help you find key search terms that are worth incorporating.
Get listed with Google, Yell.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 to getting reviews. If the consumer has opted in (which most are), they’ll even get prompts to review your business after visiting it. Not a bad return on the 5 minutes it takes to set up…
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.
You can buy backlinks, but this isn’t advised. The best thing to do is to get people talking organically about your business in things like articles and blog posts, and using search directories or local business listings.
Reviews, reviews, reviews
Word of mouth is a powerful thing. As we touched on in the intro, even reviews from total strangers on the internet are very highly regarded among consumers. A business with no reviews 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.
If you search for a business on Google, you’ll see a rich snippet at the top with the 3 or 4 best reviewed businesses in the area – that’s hugely powerful. Why would you click to see other, less good businesses if Google have served up 4 of the best for you to choose from? According to Marketing Land, 90% of customers say buying decisions are heavily influenced by online reviews, so do what you can do get them.
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.
Just because your business is local doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about online marketing. From reviews and social media to simple convenience and online searching, consumers are taking to their smartphones to scout out businesses like yours every day. Don’t get left behind.
Not sure where to start? Let us help.
C4B Media’s approach to marketing strategy is built on years of experience helping blue chips, start-ups and everything in between. Our approach is simple; 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 01763 877110 or click here to get started.