Does your local business have a strong online presence? Even if your business only sells products and services locally, it can still benefit from high online visibility. After all, consumers will often search for a local business on Google or Bing, as well as social media networks, before visiting its establishment. By taking your local business online, you’ll be able to reach more customers and generate more sales.
The Benefits of Taking Your Local Business Online
As a local business owner, you can no longer ignore the value of a website. Statistics show 90 percent of the U.S. adult population now uses the internet. To put that figure into perspective, only 50 percent of the U.S. adult population used the internet in 2000. As more and more consumers turn to the internet for information, you should capitalize on this trend by taking your local business online.
With a strong online presence, customers can find your local business more easily. A customer, for example, many perform a Google search for products or services sold by your local business, followed by “near me.” Google may then return listings featuring your local business, assuming your business is located near the user.
Create a Website for Your Local Business
To take your local business online, you’ll need to create a website. A website serves as the digital face for your local business. Using a website, you can let the public know what your local business sells, where it’s located, when it’s open, why it’s better than its competitors and more.
Being that you run a local business, you may have little or no experience in web development. However, there are still several ways to create an effective website. Assuming you have the funds, you can hire a professional web development company to build a website. Alternatively, you can use a visual-based web building platform like Wix or Squarespace. And if you’re willing to learn it, WordPress is a highly versatile tool for building websites.
Optimize Your Local Business’s Website for Search Traffic
You’ll experience better results with your local business’s website by optimizing it for search traffic. Known as search engine optimization (SEO), it involves a combination of on-page and off processes processes to increase a website’s rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Without SEO, or with an ineffective SEO strategy, your local business’s website won’t generate much traffic. It may attract some traffic from customers who type your website’s address directly into their web browser, but that’s not going to translate into any noticeable increase in sales. To generate any meaningful amount of traffic with your local business’s website, you must perform SEO. If you’re not an SEO expert yourself or don’t want to learn it, you should consider hiring a Google SEO expert.
An effective SEO strategy for local business websites includes the following processes:
• Identifying target keywords that you want your local business’s website to rank for
• Creating unique, high-quality content on topics associated with your target keywords
• Using descriptive URL slugs for web pages
• Creating custom metadata, including title tags and meta descriptions, for web pages
• Optimizing your local business’s website speed so that it loads more quickly for visitors
• Uploading relevant images to web pages
• Using alt text to describe the context of images
• Designing your local business’s website so that visitors can access and use it properly on a mobile device
• Add schema markup
• Building backlinks with diverse but relevant anchor text
• Building internal links to interlink relevant web pages together
• Displaying your local business’s name, address and phone number
Build Online Citations for Your Local Business
In addition to launching and optimizing a website, building online citations will increase your local business’s online visibility. An online citation, as the name suggests, is a structured reference to your local business that’s published somewhere on the internet. While the format varies, most online citations consist of a business’s name, address, phone number, and website address. With that said, some online citations may include other information, such as the business’s hours of operation, prices, and customer reviews.
Yelp is a valuable source of online citations for local businesses. It attracts over 140 million users each month, many of whom use the platform to find local businesses in their area. With a Yelp citation, you can drive some of these users to your local business. Furthermore, customers can share reviews about your local business on its Yelp citation.
To find more online citation opportunities, check out Moz’s citation directory at moz.com/learn/seo/citations-by-category. Just remember to use the same format when creating online citations for your local business. If your online citations are inconsistent,
it may confuse customers who are considering visiting your local business and purchasing its products or services.
Create Social Media Accounts for Your Local Business
Another essential step to take your online business is social media marketing. According to Hootsuite, nearly half of the global population uses social media. In the United States, social media usage is even higher, with roughly 75 percent of all adults using at least one social media on a monthly basis.
You shouldn’t use any personal social media accounts to promote your local business. Rather, you should create separate accounts specifically for your local business. Facebook, for example, may shut down your personal profile if you use it to promote your local business. You must use a separate Facebook Page, instead.
Although it’s the most popular, Facebook isn’t the only social media network. To effectively promote your local business on social media, you must use multiple social media networks. Twitter allows you to post short messages about your local business, whereas Instagram allows you to upload photos and videos associated with your local business. No two social media networks are the same, so you’ll need to familiarize yourself with their respective functions. By using multiple social media networks, though, you’ll create a stronger online presence for your local business.
You should also create a Google My Business page. This will help your business show up in local searches in Google, help people find directions, leave reviews, and more. It can also help immensely with your SEO efforts.
Don’t let your competitors push your local business out of the market because of a nonexistent or lackluster internet marketing strategy. By taking your local business online, you’ll win a larger portion of your business’s market while promoting long-term growth in the process.