If you’re running a small local business, you’re sure to know there’s a lot of work in setting one up and keeping it running.
Not only are you the brains behind the operation and the face of the business, you’re also most likely going to be the main sales person, the accountant, phone receptionist, office administration, staff and event organiser, and the HR manager.
So how are you supposed to stay on top of your online business marketing too?
Well you’re in luck, because today I’ve listed my top 3 steps for Local Businesses to take in order to improve their online web presence and make your website work that little bit harder for your customers, so basically, you don’t have to… Phew!
1. Register your business in search engines business listings.
E.g Google My Business.
By Registering your business in search engines directly; Google, Bing and Yahoo etc, you are ensuring that when people search for your ‘business category’ that you’ll be one of the top suggested business services offered in that area.
In 2014, 80% of people were using their Search engine to find local service and product information.
Not only do you register your business within the search engine, but you also show up in Google maps for that category, which is also handy for when people are looking for the services closest to them.
If your business is already listed, which can occur automatically after a period of time, then make sure your business is ‘claimed’ by you, the business owner and has correct and up to date details.
By claiming ownership of your business, you ensure your brand image is presented exactly as you want it. Imagine this listing is a customer’s first point of contact with your business, make sure you put your best foot forward.
Make sure all details are included such as: address, phone number, the map pointer is in the correct place (please do not do this for privacy reasons if your business is your home, instead put the pointer in the centre of the town you live in), your business email, your business website, business opening hours are correct, and that any online reviews are responded to (monitoring reviews improves SEO performance too). You can add a menu for a food establishment, and also a business menu for those who sell set cost services.
It's imperative you also upload great photos of your business in your search engine business listing. People can get a feel for your business by visual representation before they buy, so post some photos of the great work you’ve done. That could be a great looking meal you serve at your café, a photo of the great lighting you installed at that new shop, or a photo of you and your staff with smiling faces. I also recommend adding your business logo as well.
2. Register your business in all reputable search directories.
By entering your business in reputable directory listings you’ll ensure your business has the best chance of being found online.
While Search Engines do get a lot of direct searches for local businesses, a lot of people also use sites like yellowpages, truelocal and whitepages to find business services locally to them.
Make sure you are listed in all of these places and as mentioned above, all details are included and are correct. You never know how many people may be trying to contact you if your phone number has changed or your email is incorrect.
Most of these sites are free to list your business, but do cost a yearly fee if you want the advanced version.
Again, make sure all details are included such as: address, phone number, your business email, your business website, opening hours are correct.
These directory services also optimise your businesses website in Search Engines (SEO) as they give you more credibility online. Note that only reputable search engines will add value to your site like the provided examples above. Sites like ‘Bob’s directory of ABC’ is not something you want to associate your website with.
Below is a list of directory services I recommend you list your business in.
YellowPages, WhitePages, TrueLocal, Yelp, HotFrog, TripAdvisor (use at your discretion, not relevant for all businesses)
Please ensure for review sites that any online reviews are responded to (monitoring reviews improves your website SEO performance too)
Whether your business is in a bricks and mortar store, or you service clients at their specific location, you need to have location pages on your website listing your suburb and surrounding suburbs close to your location, or that you service.
Search Engine bots crawl your site regularly for relevant content and when you’re a ‘match’ with a search engine query, it can pull your site up as a relevant option in the search results.
Example: Barry is searching for a pool fencer in the Currumbin area and types in his search engine ‘Pool Fencing Currumbin’. A company located in Tweed Heads has a location page allocated to Currumbin as an area they service. They now have a high chance of showing up as a suggested page for that person even though they are located a 20 minute drive away.
Example 2: Jenny is searching for a book store and is located in Kingscliff so she will naturally see the Kingscliff book store listed first, however, a book store located in Cabarita has a location page specifically allocated to Kingscliff, which is only a short drive down the road, and as a result has shown up as the second suggested option. While the store is further away from Jenny’s current location she has yoga in Cabarita in the afternoon so will swing by after that.
By listing all the suburbs that you service, you’ll ensure you have a better chance of ranking in a customer’s search within those areas.
Please note: As a business person, I believe the distance in which you market to must be in accordance with the product or service you are selling. For Example: I would travel 25kms for a specialist cake shop, but I wouldn't travel the same distance for a coffee shop.