Small businesses wrestle with their online presence every single day. Figuring out how to drive local customers into your front door from the vastly expansive internet is no easy task. If you’re having trouble turning your online traffic into customers you’ll deal with face to face, or you’re trying to improve your results with a region or area you aren’t getting a lot of exposure in, you should head straight to the internet for better results.
According to research conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 60% of adult consumers get news and information concerning local businesses directly from the internet, and more than half of those consumers rely on search engines first and foremost. More people prefer search engines for their local business information needs, even over word of mouth (22%) and local TV (8%) combined.
The numbers all prove it: your potential customers are looking for you on search engines. Are they finding you? Here are winning tips for local businesses that need to attract more customers through the internet, without paying a dime to do it.
Claim Your Business
There are plenty of websites people can go to find your business. Whether they consult Google Places, Yelp, CitySearch, Yahoo! Local Listings, or any other business review sites, chances are they’ll find something. If you haven’t claimed your business on these websites, there’s no telling what those potential customers might find. Claiming your business lets you take control of what they’ll see.
Claiming your business verifies the location, and allows you to add any relevant information that might help search engines more accurately deliver search users to your services and your online presence. Claiming also shows search users that you are actively engaged with your online presence and care about the information they see about you. Click the above links to go directly to each website’s business claiming page and get started right away.
Keep Your Content Updated
Whether you import your Facebook Business Page feed, keep a regular blog, or post Twitter updates all day, keeping your website updated with fresh content daily or weekly will help you develop a more authoritative presence across the web. When search users come looking for your services, they’ll not only see that you have your own website, but also notice that you take the time to keep it updated with content that is interesting and valuable to them.
Fresh content is a fundamental tenet of good, reputable content marketing, so it goes without saying that you should keep your blog and your homepage fresh so users can see that you really care about attracting their business.
Take Advantage of Long-Tail Local SEO
When you’re writing content for your regular business blog, you should spice up your keywords and target your content more specifically by including specific location-relevant keywords. Instead of optimizing your web content with keywords like “hardware store,” go local and add the region or specific location you serve. “Ontario hardware store” is a great keyword that optimizes for the type of business you serve, as well as your service location.
Using lengthier, localized keywords has two distinct benefits: it qualifies your visitors further, and ensures that you have more eager leads willing to buy. Just optimizing for “local hardware store” could put you in search results for customers that are hundreds of miles away from your physical location. “Ontario hardware store,” however, will attract more locals from that specific location, meaning you get less traffic from visitors that are too far away to be interested in your business, and more traffic from visitors that are close enough to shop with you.
Making sure your website is prepared for mobile users is an absolute must in today’s world of iPads and smartphones with tiny screens. These new devices are pulling people away from their computers and giving them the power to look you up while they’re on the go. Whether you made your website yourself, or you had it pre-designed for you, be sure that mobile optimization is part of your overall website strategy. Many turnkey webpage templates now come with optimized mobile layouts preinstalled.
Usability and user-friendliness expectations rise when people use these mobile devices to find you, and mobile search users are quickly growing as the largest new segment of search traffic. Mobile optimization gives your visitors an easily-navigable website no matter how they check your business out—which means they’re more likely to walk through your front door.
Take Advantage of PPC Advertising
This last tip isn’t free, but it’s the next step you should take once the previous strategies start to lose their effectiveness. If you’re ready to really start attracting traffic directly to your website, it’s time to invest in Pay-Per-Click advertising.
Good PPC advertising should take advantage of everything you’ve learned from the previous strategies. Using long-tail, localized keywords and good, fresh ad content will make your PPC ads attractive and will ensure that they’re served out to the people you want to attract, and not anyone else. Carefully targeted PPC ads can bring in tons of new revenues at very little expense out of pocket for the actual ads you run.
Local SEO optimization will let you be absolutely sure that you’re hitting just the right groups of potential customers you’re hoping for, without all of the additional noise from untargeted traffic that won’t even be remotely willing to convert. The key to search engine marketing is hitting only search users that you know will convert, and leaving the rest alone. These tips will make sure you’ll hit the mark each and every time.