When your business relies on customers that live nearby, you may think that online advertising isn’t that important. The fact is, your customers are every bit as likely to jump online when they’re looking for delivery pizza or a handyman as they are when they’re looking for a new pair of shoes. If you’re not thinking of local SEO and local business directory listings, you’re probably missing out on a lot of customers who are calling your competition. These six tips will help you promote your local business online through a combination of local SEO, local business directory listings and social media. Before you know it, you’ll be leaving your competition in the dust.
Start with Your Own Website
Okay. Lots of very small businesses get by with just a Facebook page, but that’s short-sighted. While you can create a good online presence without creating your own website, you risk losing it all if one or more of the websites you use changes their business model. Facebook is especially notorious for changing the way it displays listings to people. Your website is the one place where you hold complete control over what people see. Whether you create your own website or contract with someone to do it for you, pay special attention to these five items:
- Your domain name should be your business name or include your business name, services, and/or location.
- Make sure your page titles include your business, location and services. A family attorney, for example, might have pages titled[Business Name] [City] Child Custody Lawyer,[Business Name] [City] Divorce Attorney, [Business Name] [City] Adoption Attorney, etc.
- Include local details in your website copy. For example, include a map and written directions on your About or Contact page that includes local landmarks, and mention that you’re proud sponsors of the [Neighborhood] Little League team. Not only will it make your website feel more personal to customers, those local details help Google and other search engines determine that you really are a local business.
Update and Build Out Your Listings on Local Business Directory Pages
Search engines get information about your business from many places besides your own website. When your business isn’t listed on major local business directory pages – or is listed with inconsistent information – it can make you less visible in the local search results.
- Find your business on major local business directory sites and update your listing to make sure all of the information is accurate and consistent. Include Google+ and major review sites, such as Yelp and TripAdvisor to boost your visibility.
- Include your business in local business directory sites like FindUsLocal.com, a premiere business directory that provides a unique, localized user experience for its site visitors.
- Where you can, add photos and other information in your local directory listings to make them more attractive and engaging.
- If you have multiple locations, list each location on a separate page in each local business directory.
Use a Good Link Strategy
Incoming links from authoritative sources are still among the most important pieces of an online promotion strategy. However, linking from “bad neighborhoods” can actually harm your online reputation.
- Use Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts to share links to your website – but be strategic. Share links to specific pages on your website where appropriate rather than just to your main page.
- Encourage others to share links to your website via social media.
- Sponsor local events or teams, and ask for a link back to your website when media and other local organizations report on the events.
- If you have the time, consider blogging about your business where you can talk about your services, your neighborhood and other businesses. Outgoing links to nearby locations and businesses also help boost your online profile.
Ask for Online Reviews and Respond to Them Often
Online reviews of local businesses provide some of the best links available to boost your business visibility. When you respond to those reviews – whether they’re positive or negative – you not only increase your credibility with customers and potential customers, you send another signal to search engines that you are an authentic local business with an engaged business owner.
- Ask for ratings and reviews from your customers. The ask can be as simple as a sign at the checkout register or on a table card, or as personal as a quick email after you provide a service. Make it easy by providing a variety of sites where your customers can leave reviews. Local business directory FindUsLocal.com even includes a space where your customers can leave reviews of your business, which will then appear on the front page of the website when someone local visits their pages.
- Respond to user reviews, both the good and the bad. For positive reviews, a simple thanks and “please come back soon!” goes a long way. If a review is negative, thank the customer for the feedback and ask them to contact you so you can address their concerns.