By Megan Webb-Morgan –
The huge influx of online marketing in recent years means that your business can find customers across the country and the globe, making it easier to forget the people next door. However, it’s still important to market to customers in your local area. Local customers represent a unique online marketing opportunity that can benefit your business if managed strategically. Taking control of your online presence, utilizing emerging social networks, and banking on your close proximity can all make your business stand out to local customers.
Take Control of Your Listings: Dozens of websites contain listings for local businesses in your area, and you may not even know that you’re listed. These websites are often used by customers to find businesses, so take advantage of this great marketing opportunity by claiming your listings.
- When you’ve proven to be the owner of the listed business, you can add more information about yourself as well as prevent misinformation from spreading.
- Fill out your profile as much as you can and keep it current over time. Customers searching in a specific niche are more likely to patronize a business with a claimed and completed profile than one that only contains a name, address, and phone number.
- Keywords are one of the most important tools in online marketing. Use them in all of your online presences and keep them up to date. Optimize your profile with local keywords to direct more traffic to your listing.
Get into Google+ Local: Google Places contains one of the largest listings of businesses, with over 80 million Google places transferred to Google+ local. Take control of your Google+ local profile and optimize it for more hits from both the search engine and the social network.
- Update and promote your Google+ page much as you would your Facebook page. Get people to continuously visit and bookmark your profile.
- Online reviews of businesses have a strong impact on customers’ decisions over where to shop. Stack the deck in your favor by offering your customers incentives to write positive reviews of your business.
- Engage with potential customers – when they put you in their circles, you show up first in their searches pertaining to your keywords.
Brag About Your Location: Though business listings and social media sites will refer customers to your website, optimizing your site for keywords is still the best strategy for obtaining local traffic. Optimizing your keywords for your specific location can help direct customers to you that you might not otherwise interested. Inserting your address into specific fields on your site can ensure that your business appears in local searches.
- Make sure your keywords are optimized at a local level. Think about what search terms your neighbors use when looking for your type of business. For example, a root beer company should know whether its local area refers to its product as “soda” or “pop.”
- Your website’s contact page isn’t the only place you should put your address. Include it in the site’s meta tags along with your top keyword so that search engines will pick up on it.
- Include your address in the alt text for your website’s main photo or logo so that it will show up in image searches.
Customers like to know that they’re shopping locally and supporting local businesses. Help your neighbors find your online profile and correct information, and they’ll help your business by becoming loyal customers.
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