Have you been ignoring the benefits local search could bring to your business? You wouldn’t be the first business to forget that the world wide web is a great tool for marketing locally…
Who best understands your local market?
Following the well-worn marketing adage: “Think Global, Act Local”, who can forget HSBC’s famous ad based on the confusion of Chinese dining etiquette? A European businessman mistakenly finishes his dinner of conger eel – signifying hunger. The poor man then compounds his error by miserably clearing pate after plate of ever bigger eel as his hosts strive to ‘satisfy’ their guest.
The ad presents the premise of growing a global business through understanding local markets and customs. Ironically, “The World’s Local Bank” grew their global empire by buying up businesses with established customer bases. Remember the Midland Bank anyone?
How do we afford local marketing, yet still have time for customers?
While most of us can’t buy up the competition, we can still appreciate the need for understanding and exploiting local markets. Trouble is, how do we do this and still have time for providing our customers with the personal touch that keeps them coming back?
The answer of course lies in digital marketing, through which you can reach your local market on a level playing field with competitors of all sizes, affordably and efficiently, leaving you the time to add value to your customer service.
So, here are our 4 Steps to help you crack local search and market your business locally without needing a mega marketing budget!
Step 1: Register with Google My Business – Why?
- It’s the biggest! Google My Business is the local directory of the world’s most popular search engine with 3 trillion searches per annum and 30% of these Google searches are for local information!
- It increases your visibility: across all Google platforms, including Google Maps and Google+. This ensures that you are placed accurately on Google Maps, enabling customers to easily find you, your contact details and business hours. This is vital for effective local search.
- Allows increased information flow: the service enables you to post photos of your shop, select products and easily publicise weekly/ monthly discount offers.
- It allows two-way communication: People can read independent reviews posted by previous customers and see your response to client feedback– allowing you to manage and respond to customer reviews.
- Provides valuable intelligence. Using Google Analytics, you will be able to see how your customers are finding you, and what they are searching for.
Step 2: Register with other key business search listing sites to nail local search
Here are just a few that are worth your time and attention:
- Moz Local is a really useful tool to establish what your current visibility is before you start. It will tell you what you’re doing well, and what you could do to improve your local, online presence.
- Bing Places for Business is the default business search engine used by Microsoft Edge and allows businesses to list in up to 10 categories so customers can find them more readily. It also features map locations, photos and customer reviews from Yelp (see below).
- Yahoo Local is another well know name. The service allows businesses to register for free, but charges for premium services and cross-listing across Yahoo’s network. The directory offers easy-to-use tools for tracking customer searches and evaluating overall search performance.
- Yelp is one of the newer names, but an important one for local search due to the review service’s inclusion on Bing. This site focuses searches on customer reviews. Search for anything from a new restaurant to a local electrician. Not only can you collect and respond to customer feedback, but you can also post special offers and use the Yelp reporting tool to stay on top of trends.
- Foursquare Fifty million people currently use Foursquare, a service based on customer reviews and feedback. An innovative feature with the service allows users check in when they visit businesses and even comment on their experiences live via their Twitter accounts. Additionally, businesses can use the mobile app to engage with customers throughout the process.
Step 3: Update your SEO and Meta Description – to help people find your website
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) refers to the insertion of keywords within your site that identify your business and what separates you from the competition. These keywords will enable search engines and therefore people, to find you.
- Meta Description A brief description of the page. ‘Meta tags’ are snippets of text that describe a page’s content; the tags don’t appear on the page itself, but only in the page’s code. There are a few main types, but Meta Description is the key one that Google pays attention to.
- Updating SEO and metadata will increase your traffic by letting Google know who you are and what you provide.
Finally! Now you are listed on all the key directories and enabled customers to find you, there is one crucial and often forgotten step to remember:
Step 4: Give your website the attention it needs!
- Update your contact information, business hours, photos and offers!
- Support an online storefront: even local people love to shop online! Many point-of-sale systems now support the integration of e-commerce capabilities.
- Implement a response mechanism:for all your web ‘hits’ and train staff to respond accordingly.
- Communicate with customers: thank those who provide positive feedback, respond professionally to those criticise (whether justified or not!). These exchanges can then be posted onto your chosen business listing sites.
- Be mobile-friendly: Given that 60% of searches on Google are made from a mobile device, your site must have amobile-friendly option.
Implementing these 4 steps will ensure that local customers can both find and contact you with ease.
Online listings will spread the news about you and also enable you to ensure that online listings, and reviews and feedback present you as the trustworthy place to shop locally!
So, perhaps this all sounds great, yet not so easy to put into practice? If you want to dip your toe into digital but are not sure where to begin, WebAdept have been producing digital marketing solutions and strategies for 20 yrs. Get in touch with us, we would love to hear from you!