Marketing a local business is no longer as simple as printing flyers and posting a coupon in the daily newspaper. In today’s marketplace, you must have a prominent digital marketing presence if you hope to compete. Your customers are less likely to be sifting through the pennysaver and more likely to be scrolling through Yelp listings. Even as a beginner, you can have excellent results using a simple three-tiered approach: search engine optimization (SEO), paid advertising, and social media. (Image Credit: Diggity Marketing/Unsplash)
Search engine optimization comprises all of the steps necessary to rank your website in search engines. It’s about creating useful content, targeting the right localized keywords, building links to your website, and ensuring that your site design and structure are search-engine-friendly.
Local SEO Tips
- Use Google My Business to its full potential. Include a listing for every location (if you have multiple business locations), make sure to verify your listings, and fill out all fields completely. Always choose accurate categories for your business.
- Create a different website—or at least a unique webpage—for every business location. Different locations should be optimized separately, especially if they’re located in different cities or have different product/service offerings.
- Get citations for your business. These are online mentions of your business name, address, and/or phone number. Submit your business information to online business directories, review sites, and social platforms. Services like Yext and Moz Local can automate much of this process.
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising enables you to reach customers who might not otherwise find your website in search engines. You choose a daily budget, and then you only pay for the clicks your website receives. These advertisements may appear at the top of search engine listings, on webpages that run PPC ads, or in social media feeds. Even if your local competitors outrank you on Google, you can ensure the attention of likely customers with a paid ad campaign.
Local PPC Tips
- Focus on the city, not the region. In other words, rather than creating a “Los Angeles County” campaign, create campaigns focused on the cities where you do business. This will result in higher quality scores, more click-throughs, and more business.
- Identify your best-performing local keywords, and use these in your ad headlines and descriptions. To track your best keywords, you’ll want to set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console if you haven’t already done so.
- Run multiple ads at the same time. Use different keywords, different headlines, and different geographic boundaries. See which ads perform best, and modify your approach accordingly.
Social media is essential for local businesses. Not only is it an easy way to generate a buzz, but it enables you to increase your website traffic, generate links to your website, and engage directly with customers. This ultimately benefits your SEO efforts, as it helps you to improve your search engine rankings and generate more organic traffic in addition to winning customers through your social channels.
Local Social Media Tips
- Review your successful local competitors, and note the types of content they post, how frequently they post, and how they engage with their audience. Also, what social platforms do they use most frequently? You can learn about effective social media strategies by researching businesses in your industry that do it successfully.
- Use local hashtags like #losangeles, #losangelespizza, and #losangelespizza. Social media users search local hashtags to find businesses and attractions in their area, and you can use hashtags to ensure that your post is seen by locals who don’t already follow you. Use hashtagify.me to find the most popular, relevant hashtags.
- Use your social profiles to drive traffic to your website, such as by creating engaging blog content or teasing special offers. Even if you don’t do business online, you still want to generate traffic and give people reasons to link to your site. Doing so results in better organic search rankings and more exposure for your local business overall.
Persistence Is Key
All of the above tips will help you to generate new business and gain an edge over your competition, but nothing happens overnight. The key is to constantly optimize your website, run advertising campaigns, and provide useful content for your social followers. The benefits are exponential, so the more consistently you do it, the more impressive the results will be over time. Before long, the whole community will be buzzing about your local business.