Local SEO : Best Strategy for Small Business Online Marketing

You have no doubt heard the phrase “All politics are local,” right? Truer words have rarely been spoken. People do indeed care about the issues and topics that relate directly to them; things that have to do with their communities, their property, their families, and the like. This same maxim can be dutifully applied to business, as well: people much prefer to patronize local small businesses than they do giving their money to large companies run by faceless, distant conglomerates. If you run a local business, even if much of your product or your services can be sold remotely, online, by the phone, etc., you will still draw the most business from the pool of customers most closely surrounding your business’ location. That is, if you market to them properly, you will. So, how to make sure your business is properly positioned to be a local superstar? You’d better work on some super local business SEO strategies, for starters!

local-seo6-300x244As when you begin any venture, when setting out to corner the local market via a successful local SEO campaign, you must first define your goals and know your limitations. With a clear strategy, a defined budget and timeline, and plenty of motivation,
you’ll find that there are myriad online marketing tools, tricks, and strategies you can employ in marketing your small business. You could spread ads far and wide across the internet and you could buy up domain names left and right, sure – that’s one way to go about things. But you could also employ a more tactical approach toward fulfilling your overall strategy and save yourself time and money by “deploying” your SEO tools carefully, where they’ll get the maximum attention from your potential customers. The first places to consider? Well, you’re a local business looking to grow, right? Look around for local businesses that have been success stories. By seeing what they have done right or wrong, you can save yourself valuable time in creating your marketing and advertising campaign. Next, you need to know what drives the local customers into stores. You’ll probably find that one of the strongest motivators for local shoppers is a sense of community, so make sure your online presence makes it clear you are very much a part of the fabric of the community to which you are offering goods and services. And you do that through – you guessed it – local SEO.

Now, just what is “Local” SEO, exactly?

It’s just what it sounds like: it’s making sure your business is optimized via Search Engine Optimization techniques to be found by locals based on location. This means using relevant, applicable terms on your website, in your ads, and on sited with links to or information about your company that make it clear what you are offering your potential customers and that you are a part of the local scene. You can use the name of your town or city in advertisements or you can choose to advertise on sites popular with locals, or both. You can create a website that highlights your close relationship with the community. Most of all, though, you need to make sure that when people search the area for something you offer, you can be found. Your most important step in establishing a locally relevant business that can easily be found and patronized is by establishing a business that is easy to find online. That means making sure all your online contact and profile information is correct and up to date. No use attracting in a customer to an address your business has not used in years, is there?

A 2013 survey of web users found that some 70% of those surveyed first turn to a search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) when looking for information on a business, even if the business is in very close proximity to them. You can put this to work for you! The biggest search engines (think Google and Bing.com) recognize that using a search engine is the leading way people search out info about locals businesses, and understand how important proximity and ease of access are to the modern consumer. You need to make sure you let the big search machines help you out! That means having contact information, maps, etc. all streamlined to pop up when your business is searched for, putting the relevant info right in front of the consumer’s face. Online marketing is a tough, fast-paced business, and you need to be ready to roll with the punches as you make sure you are winning new customers and maintaining the ones you have already: keep the terms and key words you use to attract people to your business relevant and up to date! By doing things like mentioning local events and happening, you will prove that you are not merely looking to capitalize on a given population, but that are a part of said populace.

How to get Local

First of all, you need to talk the talk. What streets or neighborhoods are hip and popular around your business? If possible, incorporate relevant words and information about local happenings into your ads, the copy on your web page, etc. Next, see what is already “trending” in your area. You can take to your web browser just like a consumer would, and search out they types of terms that should pull your business up in the search results. Nothing there? Then you need to try again with terms that apply both to your business and your area. Do a lot of research on what people in your area search for and meld those terms with your business’ terms to subtly influence a group of consumers into your place of business.

Putting the web to work for you…

There are a lot of resources out there that your business can opt to use – some are for pay, some are free, but all are well worth it! Consider trying one (or all) of these sits as a place to paste an ad: Google Places, Yahoo Local Listings, Bing, or Yelp.com. All are industry leaders and for nominal fees and a bit of legwork, you can reap great results from being featured on them!