The Internet has given entrepreneurs the opportunity to market and promote their businesses to a wider audience without having to leave the comforts of their home office. But what if your brick-and-mortar business is located in Denver, Colorado and the bulk of your audience is from Los Angeles, California?
If you have a physical location of your business, you need to focus on improving your presence on local searches so you can attract the attention of consumers who can immediately patronize your shop and ring up your cash register.
10 Ways To Help Your Business Get Found On Local Searches
People go online to search for information that can help them address pressing issues and concerns. Those people could be located within proximity of your store. Not convinced? Look at these statistics that prove the importance of having a strong local search strategy in place:
- 46% of searches on Google are for local businesses.
- 72% of people who searched for local businesses visited the location that was within a radius of 5 miles.
- 88% of people who searched for a local business from a smartphone contacted the establishment within the day.
- 18% of local business searches led to a sale for the establishment.
- Searches that included the keywords “Near Me” increased by 900% in the last 2 years.
Setting up social media accounts, frequent blogging, and incorporating SEO techniques into your digital marketing campaign is a great way of getting found on the Internet – but don’t forget the people closest to your business.
1. Register Your Business in Google My Business
Google is the largest search engine on the Internet. Its size and reach is so big that it spawned the saying “If Google sneezes, everyone catches a cold”. Thus, it stands to reason that if you’re on Google My Business, your audience will find your business.
Here are 5 tips from the giant itself on how to get the most out of your Google My Business account:
- Give complete information about your business (more on this later).
- Verify the location of your business by adding it to Google Maps and Google Search.
- Don’t forget your hours of operation.
- Respond to reviews in a prompt and professional manner.
- Add high-resolution, excellent-quality images to your page.
There are many online search directories and listing on their site will put more eyes on your business. But if you have to start out with one online search directory, go big and register your business in Google My Business.
2. Give Accurate and Updated Business Information
Google’s search algorithm generates its results based on 3 factors: Prominence, Distance, and Relevance.
- Prominence – How popular is your business? Factors such as customer reviews, articles about your business, website ranking, and content optimization are considered by Google when evaluating the prominence of a business.
- Distance – What is the proximity of your business from the search inquiry’s point of origin? Google will calculate the distance based on the information you provide about the location of your business.
- Relevance – Can your business provide the products or services the consumer is looking for? Google will assess the relevance of your business from the amount of information available on your directory profile.
Therefore, it’s important to give accurate and updated information about your business in Google My Business. Writing down incorrect information will keep Google from indexing your business and identifying it as a possible destination for potential customers.
Optimizing your content with the right keywords will also help your business get found by Google. Take some time to perform keyword research and strategically embed them on all of your content – Google My Business account, website copy, and blogs.
3. Encourage Your Customers To Leave Reviews
The Internet has tilted the balance of power with consumers because now they can verify the authenticity of claims and compare products by looking for online reviews.
A study conducted by BrightLocal showed that 87% of consumers use online reviews to qualify local businesses. Taking that statistic further, 94% of respondents said positive reviews will convince them to patronize the business.
Having reviews available online sends the message to potential customers that you care about them. You aren’t averse to reviews from customers because you’re confident about the quality of your products.
But not all customers will be proactive. Some customers will prefer to keep their opinions to themselves.
Here are 5 tips on how to encourage your customers to leave reviews:
- Prominently display positive reviews on your website and share them on social media. Your customers will get the hint that you want them to rate your business.
- Make it easy for your customers to leave reviews by creating a review page on your website or online directory.
- Incentivize reviews. For example, host a contest where a giveaway is at stake for anyone who leaves a review – positive or negative.
- Simply ask your customers to review your business. Engage them on social media. Send them a private message. If they’re not proactive, be proactive.
- Respond to bad or negative reviews. You shouldn’t expect everyone to be happy with your products. People have different tastes and expectations.
Getting a negative review is never a pleasant experience but it’s also an opportunity to enhance your reputation as an honest business owner.
Reach out to the person who reacted negatively and get his input on how to make the experience better.
4. Optimize Your Content With Geographic-specific Keywords
We touched on the importance of optimization briefly in #2. To optimize content means to make it more searchable or easier to find for search engines. One of the cornerstones of optimization is the use of keywords. However, for local search, you have to focus on geographic-specific keywords.
Geographic-specific keywords are also known as geo-targeting keywords or those that focus on a particular location.
For example, if you own an auto repair shop in Troy, Michigan, geographic-specific keywords include:
- Auto repair shop Troy MI
- Car repair Troy MI
- Mobile auto repair Troy MI
- Auto repair services Troy MI
You can use this type of keyword in your blogs, video-based content, product guide, infographic, search directory, and website. However, using geo-targeting keywords can be tricky.
The rule when using geo-targeting keywords is to keep them intact as much as possible with very few changes if any at all. You’ll be concerned about readers thinking it’s wrong grammar but there are ways to go about it.
One tactic is to present the geo-specific keywords in the form of a question or with a comma after the keyword:
- Are you looking for an auto repair shop in Troy MI?
- Thinking about mobile auto repair in Troy MI?
- Want to know where to find the best auto repair services in Troy MI?
- Searching for car repair in Troy MI, visitor?
The compromise solution is to include the word “in” but not the comma between “Troy” and “MI”. Search engines aren’t particular about grammar but they are about the accuracy of the keywords.
The more exact your keywords are to the actual search terms used, the better your chances of getting found.
5. Register Your Business In Other Search Directories
Don’t stop at Google My Business. As we mentioned, there are other search directories where you can register your business and they can also deliver results.
Here are 5 business directories that you can consider:
- Yellow Pages
- Angie’s List
We suggest adding just one more search directory. It might be hard to keep track of multiple directories but 2 should be manageable. Monitor the results of the new search listing.
If the results are good and you’ve become comfortable managing 2 search listings, add one more. Follow the same procedure of assessing the performance of the new account before deciding on getting a fourth listing or not.
6. Include Local Business Schema
When a site visitor sees your webpage, his mind processes the text content, images, colors, shapes, graphics, and other design elements. How his mind arrives at a decision after processing the data on your webpage will determine whether he leaves or explores your website further.
A search bot doesn’t view your webpage in the same way. It doesn’t process the colors, shapes, and text and instead receives binary data about your page. Thus, a search bot cannot appreciate the design and content of a webpage as a person would.
That is, until schema or structured data was introduced.
Schema gives the search bot the ability to read a webpage in the same way as humans do. Without getting too technical, Schema uses specific programming languages in order to enhance the properties of the content that the search bot indexed.
When you add local business Schema or structured data, the programming language will inform the search engine of the type of business you own and its location in a manner that’s comprehensible and intelligible.
We can help you find the local schemas that are relevant to your business and have these programmed in the backend of your website. You’ll notice that in a few weeks, your rankings will show improvement and you might be getting more visits to your physical location.
7. Blog About Your Brick-and-Mortar Location
Blogging has been proven to be a successful tool to market and promote a business. Despite the popularity of video-based content, people still take time to read blogs every day.
Try blogging about your brick-and-mortar location. Give your audience an idea of what a typical day is like in your store. Share your best – and worst – experiences as a shop owner. Blog about the history of your store; how you got started and why you decided to offer these particular products and services.
Create greater interest in your local store by letting people know more about it. Some of your readers might develop a sense of familiarity or connection with your store and patronize it right away.
8. Enlist the Help of Influencers
Influencers are social media personalities who have built a massive following because people love their content. Having an influencer on your side can put more eyes on your business.
You’ll definitely get noticed and if the influencer has a reputation for doling out excellent recommendations, you might get an immediate uptick in sales. And the ROI on Influencer Marketing is quite impressive.
According to a study called “The State of Influencer Marketing”, every US$1 spent on Influencer Marketing generated a return of US$5.78.
Yes, an influencer might charge you an arm and a leg. But you don’t have to go to the big guns or those with millions of followers. Try to enlist the help of multiple influencers with at least 1,000 followers.
The cost won’t be as much as a major influencer and your business will still get a good amount of exposure.
9. Collaborate With Other Local Businesses
Collaborating with other local businesses is a form of cross-marketing strategy that can yield tremendous results for both parties. The rule is to collaborate with complementary businesses, not competing businesses.
For example, you run a bakeshop that specializes in cupcakes, muffins, donuts, and other types of products that can be enjoyed as individual pieces. Explore the possibility of collaborating with a coffee shop in the same area.
- Consign your products at the coffee shop. In return, the coffee shop will offer its coffee beans at your bakery.
- Promote each other’s businesses in your respective social media accounts.
- Create a special promotion that includes each businesses’ products. For example, a free sugar donut with every tall Americano or 50% discount on Arabica beans for every order of 1 dozen donuts.
- Place Point-of-Sale materials in each other’s store.
- Create a video of the collaboration and post it on social media.
Don’t forget to add geo-targeting keywords in your content and to mention the collaboration in each other’s Google My Business accounts.
10. Post About Your Business In Social Media
Earlier we discussed the importance of blogging about your brick-and-mortar business and prior to this tip, we suggested creating videos of your collaboration with a complementary business.
Posting these types of content on social media will not only generate more traction but it will also increase your visibility with the search engines. Here’s a key stat to keep in mind:
On average, a person is on social media 2.25 hours every day. Assuming the average person gets 8 hours of sleep, 2.25 hours accounts for 16% of his waking hours.
Although social media isn’t a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm, it can boost the performance of your content. You can use social media posts to improve local searches simply by adding a link to your website and by incorporating geographic-specific keywords.
Building an online presence is a smart business strategy that will help build an audience, enhance your reputation, and develop your brand.
While it’s great to see your website pull in the big numbers from markets far and wide, they won’t keep your cash registers ringing in your brick-and-mortar store. The success of your physical location will depend on increasing sales from the nearby community.
Incorporate the tips we’ve discussed in this article in order to improve your visibility in local searches. If you need more information and clarification, give us a call, and let’s set up a meeting on how to get your business on the community radar.
And if you enjoyed this article, feel free to send it to a local business owner near you.