Trying to market a local business can often feel like an impossible task. With so many companies relying on search engines or social media channels to get their website and indeed business out into the world, trying to compete with more well established businesses online can be a real challenge, particularly at a local level. Thankfully, search engines have recognised this issue, with local search becoming one of their most essential features. How exactly can you promote a local business though?
Below we include a series of tips and tactics that will help your website get noticed online via local business marketing. We talk about the seven fundamentals that you as a local business who is trying to market themselves online need to be doing.
If you get stuck or perhaps are considering using a marketing agency then get in touch, we would love to hear from you.
Online Marketing for Local Businesses
What we have tried to do in this post is share the most important and therefore high priority areas for you to work on. Starting with the most fundamental starting block, your website and then moving onto more advanced areas such as Local SEO or Link Building. A lot of the items that we talk about in this piece are related or mutually beneficial but if you manage to do them all or at least most of them you'll be well on your way to promoting your local business. Whether you are a total novice or someone trying to improve their existing business, getting the fundamentals right is the key. We'll start with the most important item in the local marketing armoury, your website.
1) Your Website
This all has to start with your website, as this is the platform which your customers will see when they visit you, it's the centre pin of your local marketing strategy.
The internet is also the primary place from which customers will find and research your business. If you don’t have a website, you should have one made, preferably by a professional team but alternatively, you could even build a website for yourself. Either way, relying on a Facebook page or even worse nothing at all, will not be enough.
Your website doesn't need to be complicated or expensive. It just needs to clearly explain what you do and why your customers should buy from you. It needs to contain essential information such as your contact details but also needs to explain your business and what services you offer.
Your website should be structured well and be easy-to-use. It should be simple to find all of the relevant information about your business, everything that a customer would need to understand ahead of making a purchase or calling you. It should have an easy to use navigation pointing to the most important pages of your website, make sure you have a 'home' button and 'contact us' in your main navigation. It should contain high quality content that informs and educates your potential customers about what you do.
Your website needs to be clear and easy to read. Be direct with the information providing clear links to your most important content in your copy, but also take the time to write more in-depth information for customers that require it.
Ask other people to visit your website, your friends, your customers. As them to let you know if the website works for them. If they highlight an area that they didn't understand or couldn't find then fix it. Build a website that works for your customer.
So maybe you already have a website? How do you promote your business or improve its visibility online? That's where Local SEO comes in.
2) Local SEO
SEO is the practice of getting your website, optimising it, to rank more highly in search engines. The higher that you are ranked, the more clicks and traffic that you get.
Let's keep it simple. To assist your local SEO efforts, make sure that your website includes your name, address and phone number across all of its pages. Tools like embedded Google Maps can also help you out here. The format of your address needs to be the same as your Google My Business account, if you haven't set one up yet move onto point three. Write your name, address and phone number (known as your NAP details), in the same format, on every page. Google loves consistency when it comes to addresses, so as a bonus tip make sure that wherever your company name, address and format is written online you maintain the same format of your address as is on your website e.g. St instead of Street. The same company name etc etc.
Along with making sure that your website looks good and has the right content, it’s also a good idea to work on your general SEO. While this isn’t such a significant factor with local rankings (in the Google map pack), it will give your website an extra push, and isn’t too hard to get started with.
There are loads of free SEO tools around the web which can scan your website for you, giving you clues to follow when it comes to improving it. But in short, write great quality pages and make sure that you fill in the meta data e.g. Title tags, Description tags etc etc. Make sure that your meta data references your region or local area e.g. London, Yorkshire or if you are super local your town name. Write great content and get other websites to link back to you.
Need help with local SEO? Contact one of our SEO consultants today.
3) Google My Business
When you search for something like “bakeries near me,” you will usually be presented with a map panel which comes before any of the average results. This panel will contain local businesses and are picked based on their location and business type, rather than their SEO. To get your business into this section, you need to sign up with Google My Business; a free service which anyone can use.
Once you have an account, you will need to verify your business by email or phone, followed by setting up a profile for it. This profile should include as much information as possible, with the details you give about your business being the first ones a lot of customers will see. Google will make an account for you if it can detect your new business, and you will need to contact them to take control of it if this has already happened. This is the service which also enables you to get Google Reviews. Reviews are also a factor in ranking within local search and are another great way for customers to find out more about you. Ask happy customers to review you on Google.
Remember when you are setting this and other profiles up to keep your information consistent and in the same format. That includes; Name, Address, Phone Number, Operating Hours, what payments you take. Everything.
Google my Business is so important to local businesses. Spend the time to get your profile accurate, full and right.
4) Get Links From Other Websites
Sometimes, one of the best ways to improve your local search marketing doesn’t have anything to do with your website. Having your business featured on local directories such as Yell.com can have a positive impact on your local SEO. Not only will you benefit from the back link this gives you, but you will also find that users find you through the directory, as this website will come up in a lot more searches than yours does, particularly if you are just starting out.
In addition, you get a mention - called a citation - for your business. The more citations you have online the more Google likes it. The number of citations that you have is another factor in getting your business to rank more highly in local search.
Along with directories, websites like blogs, trade organisations, magazines and local press websites you should be trying to get links and citations from as many places as you can. Google considers links votes for your website. The more links or votes that you have the more likely you are to rank more highly.
5) Your Content
The content on your website or blog is very important too. It’s crucial to make sure that you’re creating the right type of content.
Blogs are one of the best tools local businesses have, giving you access to a platform which has the power to dominate search results. It’s rare to find a company which doesn’t have some blog, nowadays, making it worth looking at this option when you’re first getting started. Make sure that you add one to your website and that you write content on it regularly (as regularly as works for you). You should write blog posts and articles about your business, the day to day goings on, but also write answers to questions that your customers might. Such as 'How to do Local Business Marketing'. Try to write posts that are locally targeted too. Talk about jobs that you have done in a particular place, or events that you might have or be intending to show at.
If you’ve done any work on SEO in the past, you’ll know how important the quality of your content is if you want to succeed. Google has to be able to read what you’ve written, making tools like the Hemingway readability tester a great companion while you’re doing this work. Along with this, services like Grammarly can also be beneficial, providing you with an easy to use method to check your content for simple errors. Well written content also helps to convert business. If your content is full of spelling errors or mistakes your customers will spot them, badly written content can cause customers to leave your website.
By adding content to your website Google can see that you are investing in your site. Google loves fresh content and if the content is good, eventually it will start to rank and generate traffic of its own.
The take away tip here is write high quality content on your site. That includes service or product pages but also on your blog. Invest in creating great content and your site will eventually rank.
6) Social Media
Social media has all but taken over the field of marketing over the last few years. With loads of businesses using these platforms to advertise for free, it’s easy to see just how popular they are, and this is something worth taking advantage of. Spreading your content amongst friends will mean that it stays local, while still opening the doors for those who haven’t seen it before to get an introduction.
As a minimum you should setup profiles or pages on Facebook and Twitter. If you are a B2B business make sure that you have one on Linkedin too. If you are consumer based business Instagram or Pinterest might be important. Remember, when you are setting up these profiles you will also get back links too. You'll also get the opportunity to add your business details such as opening hours or your address. Again, keep your details consistent.
Along with sharing content on your profiles you also have the chance to use other popular groups or pages to disseminate your content. Most cities and towns have their community pages on sites like Facebook, join them. Follow and post to local hashtags, follow other local businesses and some will follow you back too. While you have to be careful not to break the rules, most of these pages will be happy for you to advertise a little bit, as long as you’re not spamming their feed with the same thing all the time.
Try to build your followers and fan numbers. Post great and useful content (from your blog and other sources). Tell people about your service and why they should contact you. Don't ever buy fans and followers, try to earn them instead.
7) Collect Customer Data
Information has quickly become the most powerful resource a business can have at their disposal. Email addresses can be precious, and local companies have started to notice this trend. It isn’t uncommon to be asked for your contact details when you make a purchase, making it worth looking down this route for your own company. This gives you the chance to reach out to those who you know are interested in your business via email marketing.
Try to collect email addresses on your website, via your contact forms are after a customer has purchased from you. You have to ask their permission in order to contact them again via email so make sure that every customer on your email list has opted in to receiving marketing communications from you before you send them a marketing or promotional email.
You can then put together a monthly email newsletter that you can share your content, any promotions that you may have or other exciting news with your customers.
With all of this in mind, you should be feeling ready to take on the challenge of promoting your local business. A lot of people struggle with this sort of work, finding it hard to know where to start when they are trying to make a local business accessible, but there are loads of tools to help you with this, and it doesn’t have to be impossible. Start at the beginning and work through the points above and your business will start to become more visible and grow. Should you have any questions, need resource or want the process of improving your websites visibility online taken care of by someone else then feel free to get in contact with us by clicking the link below. Here's a bit about us.
Improve Marketing is a full service marketing agency which provides marketing services for local, regional and national businesses in the UK. If you feel that you need to improve your local marketing get in touch with us and let's talk about promoting your business better online.