5 Things You Can Do TODAY to Grow Your Local Business
80% of consumers now rely on online research to make purchase decisions.
What can you do to ensure local customers find you when researching buying options?
Have a findable website.
Having a website, and more importantly, having a findable website, is critical. Search engine optimization ensures local customers learn about your during their research.
Use social media.
In 2022, this may seem like an obvious piece of advice. Your buyers are on social media, so you should be, too.
Reward your community.
Referral programs encourage your customers to tell their friends, and rewards programs keep them coming back. Start this today.
Use Google My Business.
This is a must-have for local businesses. Google My Business is a strong gateway to being found in Google Search.
Nothing encourages local customers to try your business than positive reviews from other community members.
How can I grow my local business?
Make Your Website Findable with Search Engine Optimization for Local Businesses
If you’re running a local business and you want to get customers online, you have to have an SEO-ready website. Having a fast, easy-to-use website is critical as it is the main place people can go to learn more about your business and brand, the services you offer, and where they can reach out to you for customer support. However, in order for your website to generate organic traffic, it is important to develop it with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in mind. In order for your website to be effective, you need to make the most of SEO so your website ranks highly in Google searches. Without an effective SEO strategy, it doesn’t matter how attractive or well-designed your website is, as no one will see it.
Unfortunately, optimizing your website for SEO is no longer as simple as stuffing your content with a bunch of relevant keywords. In fact, Google now looks out for overt keyword stuffing, and this tactic can actually negatively affect how the search engine ranks your website. Here are a few key things you can focus on to make sure your site shows up when your customers search:
- Page speed – Search engines like websites that load quickly. This makes sense; after all, your customers don’t want to wait for a slow website.
- Mobile Friendliness – Search engines also like websites that are easy to navigate on mobile devices. 70% of web browsing is done on a mobile device, so Google and other search engines will prioritize sites that make browsing easy.
- Valuable content – You know what Google doesn’t like? Websites that waste peoples’ time. Google will prioritize your site if your pages provide value (as opposed to building pages that purposely JUST include local keywords)
- Long Tail Keywords – This might sound like we’re getting technical, but don’t let this scare you. Long Tail Keywords are generally just the questions or specific phrases your customers would search to find you. Including these phrases on your website will help search engines recognize that your site provides the answer to these questions. (For example, a long-tail keyword for a coffee shop in Cleveland, OH might be “where to find the best cold brew coffee in Cleveland.”
If you are unsure whether your website is SEO-friendly, you may find it helpful to use Google Search Console to find and fix issues with your website. Considering Google is the most commonly used search engine, utilizing Google Search Console can be extremely valuable in ensuring that your website ranks well and reaches your target audience.
Take Advantage of Social Media
As you begin to establish an online presence for your small business, it is important that you do not underestimate the benefits social media marketing can provide. Social media is one of the cheapest and most effective forms of marketing available to small business owners, and with a little time and effort, you can quickly grow an online following that helps drive sales. It is not enough to merely create a Twitter for your business and then never use it. You need to make sure that you are active on your company’s social media accounts, consistently updating them with eye-catching, engaging content that will attract followers and keep them engaged until they become paying customers.
Making the most of social media is more important than ever, as this provides you with a way to connect and communicate with your target audience on whichever platform is easiest for them. As you begin to establish a presence for your company on social media, you should take some time to consider what medium would best showcase your products/services. For instance, most B2B businesses would benefit most from using LinkedIn. For B2C businesses, you will likely want to ensure that you at least have a presence on Facebook, as this continues to be one of the most commonly used social media platforms. Additionally, if your product is highly visual, you may also benefit from using Instagram, Pinterest, or YouTube to showcase your products/services. Whatever platform you use, make sure you update your content regularly and make a point of engaging with your followers in order to drive business.
Establish a Rewards and Referrals Program
It is important that small business owners do not underestimate the power of a rewards and referrals program. While these programs are often seen as something meant for larger businesses, small businesses have the most to gain from getting referrals.
Create an incentive for your customers to return frequently and spread the word about your business. You can do this through frequent buyer programs, VIP discounts, and personal discount codes that customers can give out to friends in exchange for free products or discounts.
A side note: you may have heard about “Influencer marketing.” This is just a targeted referral program. If you find that some of your customers have large followings on social media, you can offer them free products or monetary payment in exchange for them referring customers to you via social media. This can catapult your local business growth.
Create a Google My Business Profile
Google My Business (often called GMB, for short) is a must-have for local businesses. GMB allows you to create a listing for your business that shows up in Google searches and on Google Maps that lists information about your company. Name, address, and phone number, your hours of operation, your phone number, and your website can all be shared on your GMB listing. Google will then verify your listing by either sending a letter to your listed business address or by calling your business’ phone number. Once your listing has been verified, it will be easier for customers to find your business and access your business’ information when conducting a local search. Considering Google is the dominant search engine, now with a market share of over 90%, maintaining an updated Google My Business listing is essential in generating organic traffic for your business. You can also receive and display reviews on your GMB listing, which we’ll discuss next.
Solicit Customer Reviews
Do not underestimate the power of online reviews. As we previously mentioned, over 80 percent of people research companies online before doing business. A majority of these people look at reviews before making a final purchase decision, and shoppers have come to trust and rely upon these reviews.
If your business does not have very many reviews, this could then reflect badly on your business, and prospective customers may choose to work with a highly-reviewed company they see as more established and reliable. As you begin marketing your business online, it is critical that you consider asking customers to leave a review of your business on Yelp and/or GMB. Doing this regularly, whether in person or through follow-up emails, can help provide you with a steady stream of reviews. You may find it beneficial to offer discounts, freebies, or incentives to customers who provide reviews, as customers are more likely to leave a review of your company if they get something out of it.