For small businesses, attracting the attention of locals is key in order to gain not only new leads but also credibility within your industry.
Here are some easy ways you can help potential leads to find you online and start to build your presence locally.
With a massive 95% of smartphone users searching for local businesses online, SEO should always be a top priority for gaining new leads.
Your first step towards making sure that your website is SEO friendly is to conduct a website audit in order to identify all of the areas that you’re currently falling short.
Measure how well your website is optimised for search by using an audit to analyse aspects of your HTML, body content, link profiles and security features.
Audits will help you to understand best practice for site visibility and ensure that your website meets all search engine requirements for crawling and indexing by checking features such as robots.txt and XML sitemaps.
Don’t know the first thing about SEO? No worries, we’ve got a super easy-to-use checklist that will help you to run through all of the technical tidbits that tend to fall through the cracks.
By posting relevant, helpful content to your blog, you can help to boost your SEO for a number of reasons.
First of all, blogging helps you to target long-tail keywords (i.e. longer phrases that people will input when making specific searches). These keywords can be difficult to fit in your product pages due to their length, but they’re often perfect material for longer blog posts.
Blogs also help to keep people on your website longer. If your content is interesting enough for potential leads, then the increased time they spend of your site reading these blogs can help to push your website higher up the search engine rankings.
Additionally, blogs are great for link building, which can be a key factor in your SEO strategy. You can use blog posts as an opportunity to build internal links to other parts of your website and as a piece of content that you can encourage third-party websites to link back to.
These third-party links will dramatically improve your rankings because they prove to Google that your website is trustworthy.
Trust me when I say that blogging is the easiest way to achieve these links; back in 2015 HubSpot found that companies that have a blog on their website earn up to 97% more inbound links than those that don’t.
Plus, blog posts help to prove to potential leads that not only are you still a functioning business, you’re also abreast of shifting news stories within your chosen industry.
High quality content builds trust and a great reputation by allowing you to speak directly to your potential leads in a more relaxed way that the rest of your website might allow.
And it positions you as a thought leader in your industry by demonstrating your unique viewpoint on topics that you know best.
To learn more about optimising your blog posts for SEO success, read more here.
Local listings were specifically made for connecting customers with local businesses - so make use of them!
Google My Business is definitely the most important place to start. Getting your business listed in this directory will enable it to show up in Google Maps when people search for businesses like yours in the area.
You can help to optimise your GMB listing by adding ‘Posts’ such as images, a call-to-action or even a link to a specific page on your website.
Businesses that rely on customers making appointments can also benefit from Google’s Booking button feature. If you’re using integrated scheduling software, people can now book an appointment directly through your GMB listing.
Additionally, you can also set up a Messaging service so that potential customers can send you text messages. But keep in mind, this service is currently only available to mobile web users and is not available on the mobile app or desktop.
Aside from Google, there are many other online directories that are worth filling out. HubSpot have a great list of 57 local business directories for you to check out, but the most important ones to keep in mind are Bing Places, Yahoo Local, Yelp and TripAdvisor.
Bing and Yahoo are important to keep in mind because not everyone uses Google as their default search engine. Yelp and TripAdvisor, on the other hand, are necessary platforms for accruing those all-important customer reviews.
Speaking of customer reviews, these are a critical factor in building your local search rankings.
Online reviews are the modern version of word-of-mouth advertising - perhaps the most important kind of advertising there is.
Don’t believe me?
With so many people searching out reviews in order to decide whether or not to trust your business, it really is important to make sure that you have a few glowing reviews in order to generate leads.
Google actively encourages businesses to ask their customers and clients for online reviews they can feature on your Google My Business profile. So don’t be afraid to start asking your satisfied customers to leave a quick review.
However, don’t try to boost your ratings by reviewing yourself or by posting negative content about a competitor. These offences violate Google’s terms of service and will result in your reviews being removed.
The same rules apply for any other websites that feature customer reviews, such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, Amazon, Facebook etc.
Paid online advertising can be a great way of driving traffic to your website much faster than long term campaigns such as content or social media marketing.
With a set monthly budget, some solid keywords and geographic targeting, you can start to capture specific leads that are looking for your exact products or services in your local area.
The most important thing to keep in mind when starting a digital advertising campaign is to make sure that the number of average monthly searches for your chosen keywords are high but your competition is low.
This will make sure that your ads will be heard above the noise of competitors, whilst simultaneously helping to keep costs down.
Both Facebook Ads and Google Adwords have geographic targeting capabilities that are particularly useful for gaining local leads. By enabling you to specify an area in which you want to advertise, you’re able to target locals specifically, making your leads much more promising.
Of course, this method is most effective for businesses such as restaurants, hairdressers, plumbers etc. that rely heavily on local customers, however it can also be used for one-off situations such as targeting attendees at an industry conference or trade show.
Getting your voice heard above the competition can be a tricky task at first, but by nailing these five key points you'll start to see results in no time.
Perfecting your website, creating content, getting listed, building reviews and investing in advertising are all important tasks to get right as a small business.
So if you find yourself struggling with any of these tasks, get in touch - we'll be more than happy to help out.
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