How Can Local Businesses Get Found Online?
by Tony Shannon
As a local business owner, you know that getting your business found online is important. Today, the internet is ingrained in our daily lives and having a presence on popular internet platforms is critical to getting your business in front of your ideal customers.
People don’t just turn to the phone book anymore, they use Google, social media, and a variety of other platforms to research local businesses and develop connections with brands.
Without a solid online presence, you are letting your competition get a foothold that will propel their business for years to come.
As a local business owner, your area of expertise is likely not in online marketing.
If you want to get found online, you have to have a well-rounded strategy that meets your audience in the places they go to find businesses like yours — whether that is Google, Facebook, or Yelp. you likely don’t have the experience necessary to create a strategy like this.
However, there are a few things that you can do to immediately increase your presence and increase the chances that your business can be found by local customers.
Optimize Your Website for Locality-Based Keywords
Optimizing your website for Google and other search engines is one of my primary concerns when I put together a digital marketing plan for clients. Search engine optimization is a complicated task that will likely require some outside help.
One of the most important aspects of search engine optimization is ensuring that you are targeting the right keywords. Keywords are the phrases that your customers type into Google to find businesses like yours.
So, if you were a dentist in Las Vegas, some of the keywords that you would want to target might include:
- Las Vegas Dentist
- Dentist Las Vegas
- Family Dentist Office Las Vegas
- Dentists In Las Vegas
These are just a few examples. In any big city, there are going to be dozens of keywords that receive traffic from would-be customers that you may want to optimize for.
Connect With Your Audience on Social Media
Did you know that today 75% of male internet users are on Facebook, along with 83% of female internet users? Whether or not you involve yourself in social media, it is undoubtedly where many of your local customers are spending their time.
Creating a presence on social media is important for local businesses. If you want to get noticed online, you have to meet your audience where they are already hanging out, and social media is that place.
When I put together a digital marketing plan for a client, social media marketing always plays a role.
Using these platforms to engage with your prospective customers gives you a way to directly build relationships with them while getting your business in front of others who would never have heard of you otherwise.
Blog and Publish Content
Blogging is an essential part of any inbound marketing plan that we put together at RiseFuel. According to a study by HubSpot, 53% of marketers say that blogging is their top content marketing priority.
A blog is a platform that allows you to publish educational content that builds authority and helps to position your company as a legitimate source of information within your industry.
When your customers have questions, who do you want them to go to? You, or your competitors?
Crafting content around the questions that your customers have about your company, product, and industry not only will help you attract more traffic through search engine optimization but will give you content that you can point them toward when those questions arise.
List Your Business On Popular Directory Websites
You’d be surprised to find out how many prospective clients come to me and haven’t even taken the basic steps of having their business listed on popular local business directory website.
This is a simple step that will greatly increase the visibility of your business over time. Remember, prospects seek out these types of websites to find businesses in specific categories. If your business isn’t listed, how are they going to find you?
A few of the more popular directories that all local businesses should list themselves in include:
These are the most popular local business directories online. Getting listed on these websites will make for a good start for any local business.
Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews
When customers do seek out your business online, you have to make sure that there are positive reviews there waiting for them when they do.
To get found online is one thing, but if there are a bunch of negative reviews, or no reviews waiting for them when they get there then you are unlikely to convert them into customers. 90% of consumers read reviews online before they visit a business.
Generally, customers are more motivated to leave a review when they have an overwhelmingly positive or negative experience with the company.
The rest will require some motivation to do so. Sometimes doing something as simple as letting your customers know how much reviews help your business and asking them to leave one can be enough to kickstart things and start building your reviews on popular platforms.
Beyond just encouraging reviews, you should always try to maintain a presence on popular review websites. Most will allow business owners to respond to reviews and either thank them for the positive review or try to make good on a negative experience.
Responding to negative reviews in a professional way can help to mitigate the damage and give you a platform to rectify any issues in a public way.
Increase Your Presence to Get Found Online
If you want customers to find your business online, you have to build a presence on the popular websites that people often visit to find quality local businesses.
Building a presence there will not only help to legitimize your business in the eyes of those that have never heard of you but will get your business in front of more people.
Building an online presence is all about putting yourself out there and being willing to engage with your audience.