As local marketing becomes more competitive, making your online presence and other marketing efforts as powerful as possible becomes increasingly important. More customers now go online first to find what they need locally. For them, it’s a quick and effective approach, and they’ve come to expect that local businesses will show up in any online search.
The question is: Will yours? Here are nine things you can do to improve your chances of being found in the most cost-effective manner:
Perk up your profiles
Local businesses with the most detailed online business profiles – including their products and services – get better results. Trouble is, your business probably has profiles in more places than you know. Make sure your online listings are complete – including not just your location and hours, but as much detail as you can get in about what your business offers and what sets you apart from others. If you have a business video, include that too, along with your social media connections. A great way to monitor how your business appears online is to use a reputation management service such as Dex Media reputation management.
Narrow your net
A common mistake that local businesses make online is spending money on ads that appear outside their service area. By using locally focused internet print directories, you will get more bang for your advertising buck.
First is not always best
Many online advertisers have been conditioned to believe that first position in a search ad results page is the best way to go. But it may not be the best value. Slightly lower positions in the paid search results (also known as SEM) can produce better, more cost effective leads. The reason is that the lower position will cost less per click, but still get you on the first search results page. The best approach is to test.
Sync SEO with paid search
Use search engine optimization techniques to make your business website rich with keywords and phrases that customers might search for online. If you already use pay-per-click (PPC) ads, track the most successful keywords from your paid campaign and use them in your SEO efforts as well.
Geo-target your website and ads
Geo-targeting – short for geographic targeting – means customizing your pitch to a specific city, state, region or even neighborhood. One technique is to make sure your complete business address appears on every page of your website. The content on your site and in your ads and directory listings should also mention your city, as well as neighboring cities and neighborhoods that you want to cover or do business in.
Make it work for mobile
Search engines are starting to give higher scores to business websites that include a “mobile optimized” version. The main rule for a mobile site is to keep it simple. Having location keywords (city, neighborhood, street, etc.) are especially important to people searching for you on a mobile device. Also keep in mind that mobile users are often seeking fast access to information and services.
Use the right tools
Whether you’re a carpenter or a baker, using the right tools is always important. It’s no different for finding and using the right keywords so your business can be found. The easiest thing to do is go with a service, such as Dex Media that will do the legwork for you. If you’re a DIYer, Wordtracker.com and the keyword tool available at Google Adwords are two of the best free tools used by local business owners.
Get your social media act in order
Having an active presence in social media is vitally important for local businesses to connect with customers. At a minimum, make sure you have a Facebook business page and consider other networking sites such as LinkedIn, Biznik and MeetUp.
Check out “check-in” services
With location-based or “check-in” services and applications, customers create a profile and sync up with friends by “checking in” when they visit a local business. Participating not only helps you get found, it’s a great way to reward customer loyalty. Look into Foursquare and Google Places.