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How Local Businesses Can Optimize Their Online Presence

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How Local Businesses Can Optimize Their Online Presence

As a small business owner, you need to do everything that’s in your power to make your brand visible. In today’s competitive market, it’s not easy to stand out from the crowd. Even local businesses can easily lose their prominence among the community since people have been increasingly relying on online products and services, which are not location-bound.

It’s surprising to hear that 46% of small businesses in the U.S. still don’t even have a website. However, many customers tend to do a Google search before they settle on a brand. Here’s how you can up your online game.

 

Make Your Website User-Friendly

How Local Businesses Can Optimize Their Online Presence (1)

 

Let’s face it — as Internet users, we’re spoiled for choice. So if your site doesn’t load in less than three seconds, 40% of your visitors are likely to abandon it before even giving you a chance and moving on to a competitor.

You need to make your website as user-friendly as possible, with an appealing design, intuitive interface, and attention-grabbing copy. There should be no glitches, and all the pages should be easy to navigate. You can even automate customer onboarding using conversational AI and make it even simpler for prospects to become clients.

Your website should also work across a range of devices, with a special focus on the mobile version. Most of the traffic today comes from smartphones, so if you don’t optimize your online presence for mobile devices, you’ll lose a lot of potential customers.

 

Create Locally Focused Content

As a small business, breaking through to the top of SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) can be difficult. One of the things that can help you on that path is a solid content marketing strategy.

If you’re at all serious about your online presence, you need to have quality content that’s relevant to your audience. That’s how Google decides if you’re worthy enough to appear on the first page of search results.

Aside from being SEO-driven (packed with relevant keywords, well structured, etc.), your content should be locally focused. The fact that you’re part of the local community and are involved in its happenings makes you relatable and likable as opposed to impersonal big-name brands.

Your audience will be thrilled to read about local events on your blog. You will soon gain the reputation of someone who cares about the community and can be trusted.

 

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A Google My Business Account Is a Must

Google is the online authority everyone trusts, so having their stamp of approval and validation as a legitimate business will bring you many benefits. That’s why you absolutely must create a Google My Business account. This tool is 100% free, and it can truly help you get yourself out there.

GMB is especially important for local organizations. It can help you appear on relevant local searches and manage your online presence, story, and important information. By creating an account here, you get increased visibility, both in Search and Maps.

You can add all the relevant information, i.e., URL, contact, address, hours of operation, etc., and they will be displayed alongside your company name and position on Google Maps. GMB is becoming a serious factor in successful local digital marketing, and you mustn’t overlook it.

 

Ask Satisfied Customers for Reviews

How Local Businesses Can Optimize Their Online Presence

No matter how amazing your website is and how great you are at what you do, there’s one factor that can lead you to ruin — bad customer reviews. Research shows that 72% of customers won’t even consider giving you a try before reading online reviews. If these are not that great, you’re in serious trouble.

Luckily, online reputation management is a thing, and you can be in control of your business’ reviews. The best way to make sure you have a host of positive comments online is to ask happy customers to leave a review. You may feel like this would be annoying, but satisfied customers are actually happy to laud you online.

You can also help them out by making the process as simple and fast as possible by sending them a link they can click, which will lead them directly to the review box.

 

Make Sure You’re in Local Business Directories

Every business category has its own directories online where you can (and definitely should) list your business. Some of these directories are universal across all categories and relevant both for local and general SEO, and they include Facebook, Yelp, LinkedIn, Bing, etc.

However, aside from getting your name and info onto these listings, you should also make sure to appear in all local directories. The more you appear on these platforms, the more you increase your visibility. Not only will people going through these directories find you here, but Google will also get the message that you’re important and reward you with showing your profile more often.

In other words, local business directories will greatly affect your SEO.

 

 

Read more Marketing related stories in The Weekly Trends magazine.

Michael Deane is one of the editors of Qeedle, a small business magazine. When not blogging (or working), he can usually be spotted on the track, doing his laps, or with his nose deep in the latest John Grisham.

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