The internet is an enormous place filled with millions and millions of websites. Competing in such a massive world can be daunting for small business owners trying to promote their local shops. The good news is, search engines and social media platforms don’t want small businesses to disappear into the vastness of the web. They want them to stand out.
You can spread awareness about local shops — you just need to know where to start. Stand out online and connect with potential customers near you to boost your business with these three steps.
1. Optimize for local SEO.
Search engines are set up to support local shops. They understand that when somebody searches for “women’s boutique,” they want to see results of places that are nearby, not located in other cities or states. So, websites and profiles for local businesses can get higher rankings when they are optimized.
Optimize your business for local SEO by doing the following:
Create a Google Business Page. Because Google is the largest search engine, you need to build a presence through their platform. Start by creating a Google Business Page. When you have a Google Business Page, your business is more likely to show in a list of results for keywords related to your company. In this screenshot, you can see how the first section of search results includes businesses that have a Google profile.
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Add yourself to local directories. In addition to Google, you should create business citations (which are mentions of your business name and information) on other important online directories and websites. Moz has a full list of citation sites organized by industry. A few of the most common sites include:
- Local Yahoo!
Make sure your NAP is consistent. NAP is an acronym for your name, address and phone number. For Google and other search engines to trust your business, this information needs to be consistent across the web. Make sure that your info is correct in all online citations.
Editor’s note: It can be a pain to constantly update information across directories. Consider using a tool like GoDaddy’s Local Business Listings to get your business listed everywhere — all from one place.
2. Optimize for local social.
To connect with local customers, you need to optimize your web presence through search and social. Social profiles help people find your business when they search directly through an app. They also help people find your business in general search because popular social media sites have high SEO authority.
Set up social profiles. Use sites that are most likely to connect you with customers through search. Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are useful platforms for engaging your target audience. But in terms of building a small business web presence that attracts customers to local shops, you need to be on:
Encourage check-ins. Once you set up profiles on social sites, encourage your current customers to use them to promote your business for you. When customers check-in at local shops, it broadcasts their location to their friends and followers. This promotes your business without any work on your part. Try:
- Posting signs that invite customers to find you on social media and check-in.
- Offering small freebies to customers who check-in.
- Creating interesting displays or photo opportunities that encourage guests to share a photo and check-in.
Encourage reviews. Encourage customers to leave reviews on social sites as well as your Google Business profile page. Good reviews help customers decide to do business with you, while also improving your visibility in search. Profiles with a larger number of good reviews are more likely to show up in search in places like Yelp and Google.
3. Optimize your website.
Have a mobile-friendly website. Local searches are frequently conducted on mobile devices, so your website needs to be responsive (which means it adjusts its content and layout depending on screen size). Mobile websites deliver a better experience for users and directly impact your ability to show in search, as some search engines will only show responsive sites for searches conducted on mobile devices.
Implement best SEO practices. When it comes to local SEO, general SEO is still very important. You need to implement best SEO practices on your websites to ensure that your business can compete in search. Your website should:
- Include high-quality content that engages readers and guides search engine bots.
- Use keywords relevant to your business and location in page title tags, meta description, H1 tags, URLs and naturally in the content.
- Use both inbound and outbound links to tie your website to the rest of the online world.
Remember, don’t go overboard and flood your pages with keywords. Write compelling content with important lingo naturally spread throughout.
Local shops, worldwide presence
When it comes to fighting for spots on search engine result pages or getting your business noticed on social, there are dozens of tactics to improve your visibility. The tips listed here will help you get started. As you continue to build your online authority, remember to focus on creating a professional presence to effectively connect with local customers online.