If you are a local company supplying a local service (restaurant, clothes shop or plumber etc) then you need to make sure your competitors are not taking your market share by beating you to new clients.
Did you know that 63% of consumers and small business owners use the internet to find information about local companies of which 82% use search engines such as Google (Webvisible & Nielsen). So if you are not optimising your website for local search then you are potentially missing out on lots of business.
So to help you with your local search engine marketing we have created a list of 9 tips to things to do to optimise your local business website marketing:
1. Claim your online profile
Search engines now show map results for local searches in their search results so make sure you are listed on their map/online system. It’s relatively simple and you start by logging into Google Places, Yahoo Local (through a company called infoserve) and Bing Local (through a company called My 118 information) and walking through the verification steps which include a phone call or post card to verify your address.
2. Upload Pictures
The local sites listing services mentioned above like to provide their users with pictures of your business. To help ensure that they see some good pictures, upload your own. They don’t have to be professional photos, but they will represent your business so make sure they are decent.
3. Control your information across the internet
A big part of local search optimisation and marketing involves obtaining information from other sites. Local listing aggregation services search the internet far and wide to find pictures, reviews and any information they can on your company. So hunt out those local town/city websites or industry review websites and get listed.
The downside here is that if something is incorrect on another site, it could find its way back into your local listing. If that happens, you have to go back to the source and ask them to fix the issue and then wait while the fix makes its way into local sites.
4. Ask for reviews
Most local sites, except for Yelp, are fine with you telling your customers to review you. So do it. On your contact form thank you page, on invoices, on email communications, make a point to say “we’d love it if you gave our business a review on Google/Bing/Yahoo Local etc.” These reviews, good or bad, make your business more creditable to future customers.
5. Bad reviews can be good
No company is perfect, so when users see all positive reviews, something looks wrong and they may actually choose a different company. Bad reviews are a part of any business and a few bad reviews may make the good reviews that much better. Obviously, you don’t want to encourage bad reviews.
6. Add local phone number
On your website, be sure to publish your local phone number in text vs within an image or not at all. 800 numbers may be nice, but on their own they don’t give any kind of location indication.
7. Have a full physical mailing address on your website
Your address is important and it should be on your website and match your Google Places listing to re-enforce your geographic location to the user and the search engines.
8. Pick your keywords carefully
What would your customers put in a search box to find you and buy your products? Business owners often get caught up in popular/vanity keywords or keywords that will drive a lot of traffic and forget to focus on less popular, but often more profitable, keywords that have a higher probability of making sales.
Make sure you review your website stats, ask your clients and run a survey or Google Adwords text to find out what the best keywords are for you to target. Remember you are trying to think like the customer.
9. Multiple locations need multiple landing pages
Local sites don’t like a business having more than one local listing, but if the business has two locations, then that is okay. However, you should ensure that each location links back to a page on your website that is specifically about that location and what it has to offer. Sending both local listings back to the same page, or homepage, isn’t a good idea.
Remember local search is its own unique entity as no one can control everything that appears on their local listing, but business owners can take steps to ensure that what gets listed is a good representation of the company and this will also help build your presence online and help you to beat your competition to the new clients out there.
For more information do send us an email or give us a call.May 23rd, 2012