For small businesses, especially B2C (Business to Consumer), increasing your local visibility should be tops on the priority lists.
For small local businesses, driving large amounts of traffic to a website is only useful if it’s the right kind of traffic. If thousands of people in Austin, TX make their way to a website for a burger join in St. Paul, MN, the conversion rate will be 0%, and the traffic will be pointless.
Here are a few key points to consider when attempting to increase your local visibility online.
Using local keywords
Small local businesses should be focusing on driving local traffic to their site because those are the visitors that have the potential to convert into customers.
In order to do this, businesses should focus on local keywords. That burger joint we talked about earlier should be trying to rank highly for keywords such as “burger joint St. Paul” and other variations.
Regardless of what your opinion of Google is, as far as local SEO goes, Google is your friend. Google takes your location into account when giving you search results. This essentially means that Google takes a visitor in St. Paul, MN searching for “burger joint” and spits out results that match the keyword and location.
Local businesses should be capitalizing on this knowledge. There are other ways to gain ground in the local SEO market to…
Utilizing local directories
To start, think small. You can’t get any more local that your city or towns Chamber of Commerce website. Most will offer free listings for verified businesses, and more often than not these will be followed links! This helps improve your search rankings for local keywords.
Of course it’s also important to be listed on larger business directories as well. Make sure you’re listed on the below directories and apps.
- Google Places – The single most important directory to be listed in. Google is still the worlds most popular search engine, and we need to leverage that.
- Bing Business Listings – Bing gets mixed reviews, but it’s becoming increasingly popular and should be utilized.
- Yahoo! Business Listing – Yahoo has lost a step or two in the last few years, but is still very widely used.
- FourSquare – A social check in app that can be used as a free marketing tool.
- Yelp – A social check in and review app. Increasing important for potential mobile customers.
- Yellow Pages – The Yellow Pages might seem deprecated, but its still a powerful business directory.
- Best of the Web – If you want to pay for a listing, this is the best option out there.
Leveraging social media
In today’s increasingly social world, more and more people are looking to social media for their day to day decision making. Many social media platforms have some sort of built-in check in application. Giving your customers and visitors a chance to share your information is like getting free marketing from the people that matter the most!
Sharing – Facebook Pages are extremely beneficial, and in more ways than you might first consider. Facebook Pages allow your friends, family, customers and fans to share your content to their connections. It’s very easy to get your company in front of thousands of faces very quickly, simply by creating a Facebook Page.
Checking in – By creating a Facebook page for your business, you allow your customers to “check in,” which will share a link to your Facebook Page with all their connections. Adding an address on your page also allows mobile users to search for local spots and find your business.
Customer Communication – Facebook pages also allow a forum for your customers to give you public reviews. Don’t fret over negative reviews, transparency is a good trait for a company to have. Customers know that know business is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. When a mistake is made, customers want to know that you will quickly rectify the situation. Proper professional resolution can actually do wonders for your public image.
Adding a Twitter page for your company gives your customers the opportunity to mention you in their tweets. This exposure can drive interest in your brand. Communication is key, as customers want to see that a business will respond to inquiries in a timely and professional manner. Twitter accounts for brands that don’t reply to their inquiries are basically publicly ignoring their customers. On the other hand, Twitter brands that interact with their customers get increase exposure and the public opinion of the company is often positive.
Make sure that you add your business to FourSquare. FourSquare is most beneficial to B2C companies. Allowing your customers and fans to check gives you free exposure to more potential customers. Your customers will do the marketing for you, by writing tips, adding pictures, and making comments. If your business is B2C, a good way to get exposure out there quickly is to incentivize your employees to check in while they are at work.
Although Facebook does a decent job of allowing its users to check in to local spots and businesses, FourSquare is still the market leader in location-specific social media. The fact that FourSquare is easily integratable with Facebook and Twitter means that your exposure can quickly be doubled or tripled.
Yelp is especially useful to local food and drink spots. It’s a widely used forum for consumers to review local spots and check in. Many businesses also add incentives for consumers to check in or write reviews.
In today’s increasingly mobile world, apps like Yelp are very popular. The average consumer most likely has some sort of check in or business review app on their mobile device. Yelp is one of the more popular apps out there, and it’s important to make sure that you are visible on it.