In our work we deal with a lot of locally based small businesses, we are even a ‘local’ company ourselves! This means we fully understand how frustrating it can be competing with some of the big guns out there. Whether you are a local D.I.Y. shop fighting the likes of B&Q, a high street butchers battling the lure of Tesco’s cheap, horsey meat or a specialised estate agents fighting tooth and nail with the Rightmove’s of the world for every instruction, we understand and feel your pain. Thankfully it has never been easier for you to make your voice, and therefore your sales pitch, heard. Local internet marketing allows you to target relevant, useful traffic (and therefore users) who could well become your next regular. So make yourself a coffee, grab yourself a biscuit and a pen and paper and prepare for our How To for local internet marketing.
Local Internet Marketing: 8 Tips To Success
1. (and 2.) Get on social media (and get promoting)
Sometimes we feel like a broken record. We even annoy ourselves with how often we mention those two words. There is no denying the fact that social media has a huge role to play in your local internet marketing campaign though. Set up your pages on the big 4 of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn (more on that here) and get posting. Get all your family and friends to like/follow and share your pages and their content. But what content?! I hear you ask. What you post will depend upon your business and who your customer base is, but we have written a fantastic guide on how to create social media campaigns which will help get your creative juices flowing.
We are not pretending that building a social media presence will happen overnight, it will take some hard work on your part but it can be helped along with a bit of promoting by you. You can pay to push posts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (read more about that here) so that they reach more users, therefore increasing your exposure and helping your local internet marketing efforts. However, we recommend you save this for a particularly brilliant product you are releasing or a fantastic deal you are offering as it will all soon add up. There is a form of promotion that doesn’t cost a thing though, word of mouth. Mention to your customers that you are now on social media, offer them a coffee if they like/follow at least two of your profiles, tell them know you have an exclusive deal that is only applicable to your social media users. Once again what methods you choose will depend on what sort of business you run.
As an amalgamation of this point and the next think about getting your business signed up on FourSquare. FourSquare is a social maps service people can ‘check in’ to locations to let others know where they are. It also allows them to leave reviews. If you are a service sector business chances are you are already listed on FourSquare (people do not need your permission to add your location) so why not take a look at what they are saying?
Image source: Forbes
3. Get your business registered as a Google place
Thanks to the dawn of Google+ this can be done in conjunction with setting up a Google+ page which we highly recommend you do. As you can see in the below image we searched for local internet marketing in Google. Low and behold what does Google show us? Internet marketing results that are local to us! If you are not registered as a Google+ place it is unlikely you will show (notice how every business listed here has a Google+ page?) By creating a Google+ Local Business page you have a single result in Google that combines your location, social media presence, website listing and customer reviews/testimonials (more on those later.)
We know you are convinced so follow this link to find out how to go about setting up a Google+ local business page. Whilst you are there you should also list your business on as many other online map services as possible, these include Apple iOS maps, Yahoo! maps, MapQuest etc. The more places people can find you the more likely you are to be found.
4. Employ a local SEO firm
This one is particularly important. SEO can be an extremely effective way for your business to be found online. You need to ensure that your business is being found for the right location searches though. If you are a butcher in Bath it will not be particularly useful for you to turn up in Google searches for a butcher in Belfast. Here comes the shameful self promotion part. In case you had not realised already we are a local SEO firm who specialises in white hat SEO. We deal with many local companies and understand how local SEO works. No matter who you choose, or even if you decide to go it alone, ensure your local business is appearing in local search engine results pages (SERPs) for searches by local people.
5. List yourself on (high quality) directories
Online directories are the yellow pages of today. They help with the exposure of your site and are fantastic for local listings. However, they also serve another purpose. Although debate in the SEO world rages about how much of an impact directory listings have on boosting a site there is no doubt that they do. Do not go overboard though, throwing your website at every directory is the practice of SEO gone by and can now actually harm your site in Google’s eyes. Choose a few, high quality directories to be listed on. The holy grail of these is DMOZ but due to the fact every submission is human reviewed it is notoriously difficult to get listed and even then it can take forever. Here is a list of great directories to get you started.
Image source: Eric Martindale
6. Ask for local testimonials
A fantastic way to increase trust and build relationships between your business and prospective customers is to show them great testimonials from other customers just like themselves. It is not a new idea and there’s a reason it has stood the test of time, people believe other people. If someone says “That was the best piece of cake I have ever had” or “The drill bit I brought from you the other day is brilliant” ask them if you can quote them on your site. Use of their first name only is fine if they have an issue with revealing their identity.
Ensure you have a testimonials section on your site, a scrolling one similar to the one you can find on our homepage would be fantastic, to show them off. Also share them on your social media profiles and even write them up on a chalkboard in your shop. If you wanted to take it a step further you could encourage customers to rate your business online. By ensuring rich snippets are enabled on your site (more on that here) you can enable reviews to appear in Google results. If people see stars next to your business results in Google they are more likely to click through to your site, roughly 30% more likely in fact.
7. Ensure your site is prepared for mobile traffic
Google is built around the premise of providing its customers with the most relevant results based on the search term they have used. This works to your advantage as a local business when they are standing on the high street trying to find the nearest coffee shop. This is why, if you have been paying attention (we know there is a lot to take in here) you will have noted down about how you need to create a Google+ Local Business page.
So you have come up in Google’s SERP as the nearest coffee shop, brilliant. However, when your new prospective client decides to click through to your website on their smartphone they are presented by a clunky, poorly designed, almost unreadable site. Unfortunately this could well be where you lose their possible custom as they visit your competitors usable site. You have two choices here, you can either have a mobile version of your site constructed that is perfectly suited for access via smartphones and tablets or you can have your existing site upgraded to adaptive web design.
Adaptive web design, or responsive design, is a term used to describe a website design that can easily and seamlessly respond to different screen sizes. This involves the website re-organising its layout and resizing images and boxes dependent on the device from which it is being viewed. Follow the link to find out more about adaptive web design. Personally we feel adaptive web design is the better option but whichever you choose ensure information such as an address and exterior image is prominent to the viewer to make it as easy as possible for them to find you.
Blogging is no longer the reserve of the light avoiding spotty teenager or obsessive Tom Cruise fans. In fact, if you have a website that you want to appear in Google’s rankings and you are not blogging you are missing a trick. Google loves content, they love content almost as much as they love Penguins and Pandas. Blogging is an incredibly easy and quick way for you to keep that fresh content coming to your blog. Why do you think we are writing this blog post today? Sure, we love helping you guys out but we are also at the mercy of Google’s ethereal axe just like everyone else.
But what do you write about? What you know best (which, hopefully, is your business.) If you are a restaurateur write about restaurants, if you are a mechanic write about car repairs or servicing, if you are a computer repair company write about computer repair (hopefully you are starting to get the picture now.) However, it is not quite as easy as that. You have to be unique for people to pay attention. Offer ‘inside tips,’ make your writing funny, attach videos of you explaining your writing to all your posts etc etc. If you stand out you will get noticed. Then not only will you be keeping Google satiated with fresh content to digest but you will also be driving traffic to your site via blog readership.
Image source: Aweber
A Summary of our Local Internet Marketing Beginners Guide
As you can see there are many facets to a successful internet marketing campaign. What is most important is that, throughout all these channels, you ensure that you are keeping your brand identity and treating the customer as you would if they were stood in front of you. It is also important to note that if you have a great product most of the work has already been done for you, it is as simple as letting people know it is there.
Written by Ryan Hill