No matter the size of your business, its success will most likely depend on how exposed you are and what kind of image you are putting up for your customers to perceive. This is also very true when operating at a local scale, since local reputation could play an important role in determining how well your business will do in the future or how well it could do in a different location if you were to expand.
There are countless options out there to market your product or service, and having online presence should be in your top priorities. Customers are showing clear tendencies to shop, investigate and comment on products and companies online, more so now than ever before. Just as you would invest time and money in an attractive and functional store, office or building to offer your products or services, you should consider investing in your online presence, especially your business’s website and social media networks.
Unfortunately, putting a couple images and text together doesn’t mean that your website is complete. As you know, competition is stronger each day to get your website to be noticed and attract users that will keep coming back. For this reason, it is important that you take some time to optimize your website so that search engines will want to present your business as a relevant solution to customers’ inquiries. In this case, if you are running a local business, there are specific techniques you can apply to your site in order to increase your rep at a local level. Follow these simple steps and you will be on your way towards a better business:
- Complete and update your business listings on local websites
One of the very first things you will want to do that will greatly impact your visibility will be having complete and consistent information of your business in the leading local listings websites. Search websites such as Facebook, Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor and Yellowbook, and also other popular local sites to find your business listing. Review the information, correct and complete name, address and phone numbers, ensure it is located in the right category, and be sure to ‘claim’ your listing to make certain only official information is given, for which you will have to go through a quick verification process. Also, take the opportunity to build on the content in a creative way, such as uploading pictures, videos and other interesting information about your offerings. This will greatly benefit your presence in local sites and ultimately redirect more customers to you.
- Optimize the information shown on your website
The very first thing to consider is your domain name. Make sure it is simple, straightforward, and that it specifies or reflects your business type and location. You can also use a country-specific domain extension to make it easier for search engines to locate you, for instance, use silviascoffeeshop.ec. If you have already chosen a domain and you have a neutral extension, such as .com, .org, .net, you can access the setting on Google Webmaster Tools and link your site to a specific region or country.
The next thing to work on will be to add keywords on page titles to link your business and its services to its location, that way search engines can instantly pick you for relevant local listings. It can also be beneficial to include as much relevant information and pictures about your immediate surroundings, such as close parks, sports fields, or theaters that can link your business to the area, and also your favorite nearby stores, malls, restaurants or cultural attractions to create an opportunity for interaction with your community.
Finally, make sure you also include your business’ name, address and phone number not only in the contact page of your website, but also in the homepage and in at the bottom of all other landing pages.
- Encourage reviews from customers
Building credibility for your business is essential to attract loyal customers that will stay with you for years. For this reason, it is important that you encourage your customers to leave ratings and reviews of your business that will give you insight on what you are doing right and what you need to improve. Provide several options in which your customers can send their reviews across multiple local sites, and stay up to date with responding all kinds of reviews, whether positive or negative. Another important channel through which customers express their like or dislike of your business will be in social media networks, so you will also have to be careful in how you interact with customers through it. No business is perfect, so negative reviews will also help build on your credibility, and false positive reviews will only make you appear fake. If you get a negative post, just apologize and thank the customer for their feedback and get in touch with them so as to solve their particular issue. Knowing the company cares and is available to try and solve your problems will greatly improve your relationship with your customers.
- Attract media coverage
This is the time to muster all your PR skills and start thinking of ways you can make yourself known to those people and companies that could generate free press for your business, and improve your credibility. Word-of-mouth can sometimes be more important than advertising, since people look to experts and other relevant public figures to get a cue on what is hot and what is not. Spread the word about your offerings to local media, bloggers, experts and celebrities that could generate content to promote it. Send samples of your products, invite them to events and fundraisers, or offer them free trials. This can result in articles, videos, and press releases that will greatly boost your visibility and will help you appear in search results for a long time.
Stop wondering what else you can do to improve business, and start taking action towards more successful outcomes. The online world is only going to keep growing, so you might as well get on the train and not get left behind with other outdated companies. Take advantage of these simple guidelines to optimize your website and boost your local business’ performance significantly.