Your Local Business Can Rule the Web. Here’s How.
Optimizing your business website for local search is absolutely critical as more and more consumers flock to the web or to their mobile phones to search for local businesses. Whether you own a landscaping business, an HVAC company, or a law practice, you can run circles around your competition and rule the web using these local search marketing tactics.
First Things First: What is Local Search Marketing?
There's no reason to overthink this term: local search marketing helps you get found when customers are searching for a service your company provides. Local search tactics include listings management, website SEO, promotional videos, direct mail, search engine marketing (SEM), and even display advertising.
How Do I Get Started?
If you're not already relying on any combination of the tactics above, make it a point to “get found" whenever consumers search for your products or services by doing the following:
- Business Profile Pages. Create business profile pages on every major local search provider – YP, Google, Yahoo, and Bing – as well as on major listings directories, like Yelp. It’s important that information like your business’s address, phone number, and hours of operation is accurate, up-to-date, and consistent on every business profile page you create. Be sure to do a quick and easy presence scan to make sure you haven’t forgotten any important updates. Also, as you set up your business profile pages, be sure to include the appropriate categorical tags (if available) to make it easy for consumers to find your business using filters. And don’t forget to make your profiles content-rich with photos, videos, and other relevant content.
- Reputation Management. Many small, local businesses are uniquely dependent on word-of-mouth support to get their business growing – much more than those big chains. So, it’s important to make customer service a priority at all times. By doing that, it’ll be a lot easier to solicit positive reviews from satisfied customers. And if, by chance, you get the occasional negative review – which will inevitably happen – see it as an opportunity to turn a frown upside down. This is what reputation management is all about. Just be sure to make time every day to monitor all your business profile pages to ensure that your business is always portrayed in the most positive light.
- Social Media. Social media is a great way to reach current and potential customers easily, especially since people today spend a ton of time on social media sites each day. Even better, having a presence in social media is free and also an easy way to give your search engine rankings an immediate boost. Like your business profile pages, make sure your social media channels include all necessary information about your business and are filled with images, videos, and content that will encourage consumers to learn more about your business. Once you’ve got the foundation set, be sure to regularly post status updates, invite customers to events, tag photos, promote community initiatives, run contests, feature your team members or customers – basically, anything to make your business relatable, memorable, and visible.
How Do I Know It's Working?
Running a business involves making sure any investment you make – whether in time, money, or resources – pays off in the end. So, how can you tell if your local search marketing initiatives are driving value? As with any sustainable business strategy, measuring your success with relevant data and metrics is essential. Here are a few quick and easy ways to ensure all that hard work and effort isn’t all for nothing:
- Track Calls. Track incoming phone calls by setting up a dedicated phone number linked to your local search marketing efforts. Every time a call is made using that number, you’ll know exactly where it came from and will be able to measure, in call volume, the impact for your SEM campaigns.
- Monitor Web Traffic. Know where your website visitors are coming from with resources like Google Analytics. Doing so will make it a lot easier to assign a “value” to each of those clicks. Similarly, it’s important to monitor any local search campaigns you may have running on a daily basis to make sure they are driving real results. If you feel they are falling short, adjust as needed in real-time.
- Ask Questions. This is the most basic tactic for understanding how new customers heard about your business. It’s also a great way to engage customers in a conversation. You can also use it as an opportunity to collect customer information for email blasts, direct mail campaigns, and so on.
Local businesses are an important part of our local communities. When you've built a business out of your craft – whether it's plumbing, electrical, auto repair or roofing – it’s important to make the most of the digital world to get the word out and drive more customers to your business. Building a strong online presence, leveraging local SEM strategies, and measuring effectiveness with real-time data is your ticket to dominating the local competition.
Susan is the content marketing manager for YP Marketing Solutions for local business. She graduated from Washington State University with a Master of Arts in Communications and has dedicated her career to learning the ever-changing field of digital marketing with an emphasis in content, SEM, and social media.