Being locally visible online is essential. If you don’t appear online, it is likely that your potential customers won’t find your website, resulting in a lower level of traffic and business for your company. An online survey conducted in 2018 says that at least 53% of online users require services or products that are local to them each month and jump online (mostly Google) to find a business.
As a local business, your community is valuable. Building strong communal relations and having a positive reputation in your town can make or break your next few years in business. Whether you offer a service or sell a product, being visible online is an unquestionable requirement for your success. Here are a few tips to help you to gain maximum exposure and utilise your local community.
1. Google My Business
The best way to increase your visibility online is to create and optimise your Google My Business page. This page helps you rank higher in local search and generate more traffic to your site. Once you have created your Google My Business page, you will also get better control over your online presence in Google.
When it comes to connecting your businesses with people at the exact time when they’re looking for a particular service in their area, nothing comes close to the reach of Google, which is the default starting point for most people searching online for information.
The first step to a successful Google My Business Page is to ensure that you have claimed ownership over your page. Once you have full ownership, you need to optimise your page by providing detailed information that our audience needs to know. The main information that should be completed is:
- Contact Details – Your website, your email address and your phone number – Make sure your customers can easily get in touch with you.
- Reviews – You should always promote your reviews in order to be shown as an honest and transparent company.
- Opening Times – Let your customers know when you are open.
- Your Businesses Address – This is especially important if you have a physical store as your customers need to find you.
- About Section – A quick summary of your business, what your values are and what you offer.
- Photos Of Your Business – So customers can recognise you when they look for your local store/building.
Once you have all of the above set up and completed in full, you should start to attract organic website traffic and foot traffic into your store!
2. Local Ad Campaign
A great way to raise brand awareness of your local business is to run a small advertising campaign. Whether that is on Google or Social Media, you can easily target people within a certain geographical area of your business. Both Google and Social Media allows you to target your ads to a single town or city. This makes it easy to show your ad to the people who will be able to walk or drive to your store.
If you run a small local ad campaign you can advertise your location to people that you know are within either walking or driving distance. A user might come across your advertisement and recognise your street or town and think “I want to check that out sometime”. Also, a user might search “Local Cafe Near Me” into Google and if they fall under your radius, you want to make sure they see you!
According to a survey published by Bright Local, 75% of customers trust and consider reviews before making a purchasing decision or visiting any store. It’s very important to build positive reviews as they help businesses increase credibility and visibility online. The best way to increase your online reviews is to be a bit cheeky and ask your clients or customers. Drop them an email and ask if they could review their experience with your service or product. Not only does this help your credibility online, but it also helps you to improve your business as your customers know what they want and what they are expecting from you.
If you do not want to directly reach out to your customers, you can use independent review sites to encourage them to give you feedback. You can add a review button to your landing page or website to draw people into leaving you a review. For example, we are recommended by The Drum and this is where the majority of our clients leave their feedback.
However, with reviews, you need to be ready to face negative comments. No matter who you are, what your business does or how long you’ve been running, you will come across an unhappy customer or two. It’s life, you cannot please everyone and things go wrong and comments get left. The best way to handle this is to take it with a pinch of salt and learn from it. You should always take peoples opinions on board and respond to them. You must be understanding and polite, but you should also defend your brand and your credibility. By responding to these reviews, you are showing your future customers that you are responsive to problems and queries.
4. Social Media
Today’s online shoppers prefer to engage with local businesses through their social media profiles. According to Sprout Social, 57% of customers want to buy from brands they follow and interact with on social media. As a minimum, the platforms you should be using are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (Instagram depending on the nature of your business and audience). Your social media presence should be a priority as a small business. The reason why so many start-ups and local businesses use social media is that it is free! The only thing that posting and engaging on your social media costs you is your time.
A major part of growing your social media is interacting online with your audience. It’s very important to actively engage with your followers, reply to their requests about your business, share your local content, and say thank you for being with your brand. The wider social media presence you have, the more successful you will be.
As a local business, there are plenty of opportunities for you to connect with your area through your socials. Many towns and villages host gatherings and events on a regular basis. By sharing and getting involved in discussions, you are able to reach out to users local to you and also help out your community – It’s a win-win situation. Additionally, take note of news and set up Google Alerts around keywords specific to your location. When a topic is trending, create some content around it and ask your local followers for their input. Create Polls online and use your stories to ask people questions. While these techniques might not generate conversions, it generates an audience – which is the main focus of social media, generating brand awareness and exposure.
5. Local News
As stated in my above point about Social Media, keeping up-to-date with current events and what is happening in your local community is an important factor when it comes to gaining more visibility for your small business. You can use local topics to bring in an audience that you know live in or near that area. For example, as a small local business, you can share positive articles seen online either via Google or social media, and you can show your support (make sure to always tag your source!). If another local business is holding a charity event, be sure to share and event donate if you have the funding. By simply using your business for good, you’d be surprised what business that can generate back!
To conclude, the online world can be a daunting place for those who have little to no experience. But, with knowledge, facts and some help, the digital age could accelerate your local business into the future!
For more information on platforms such as Social Media, Google My Business and Google Ads, please feel free to contact one of our qualified and friendly marketing experts! With over 9 years of experience and over 400 satisfied customers, we’re confident that we can help you.