Most modern business owners know how important search engine optimization – or SEO – is for their bottom line. However, many of these same professionals have no idea that searches from local patrons make up nearly two-thirds of all online search activity. Making your business easy to find for local consumers yields higher numbers of sales and more likelihood of repeat business from those closest to your establishment.
What to Consider When You’re Marketing to Locals
If you’re trying to get your company’s name in front of those who are most likely to purchase your products or pay for your services, locals are your most solid bet. Here are some questions to ask yourself as a business owner that will help with increasing the likelihood of making a positive impact on this vital consumer base:
- How accurate and consistent are your online listings?
Accurate, up-to-date information being available to interested consumers is one of the most crucial factors in netting new business. However, many small businesses do not regularly update online listings, or check to ensure that the existing listings are consistent across all locations. So, what happens when a consumer searches for your establishment and gets three different, conflicting results about the services offered, hours of operation or cost of available products? The likely answer is that they simply choose another, more accurately described business, losing you a potential sale.
- What information do you offer beyond the NAP?
The NAP, or name, address and phone number are the most commonly researched pieces of information in regard to local businesses. However, there are far more facts that you can offer consumers at a glance, to give results from search engines like Google local optimization. Some of these tidbits of information include:
- Your web address, especially if customers can place orders online. To be sure that the site they land on is one that encourages sales, a business owner should consult an SEO professional or web designer.
- Hours of operation.
- Proximity to other local landmarks or attractions, particularly those which might be conducive to sales. (If your restaurant is located near a hotel, patrons might be inclined to enjoy a meal before heading to their rooms for the night.)
- Prices or sales you are currently or that you regularly offer, such as a percentage discount for those who see the information online and mention the corresponding code when ordering.
- Links to ratings, reviews, credentials and other attractive information.
- Forms of payment accepted.
- Do you have a real and working social media presence?
Today’s brands – both big and small – know that social media sites are where many potential customers spend their time. If you want to optimize your business for the local consumer, be sure that your social media sites are updated with the latest and most accurate information about your business, as well as some fun and interesting photos, specials and customer reviews. Which brings us to our next tip:
- Do you have reviews in place from customers, and if not, how can you encourage them?
Positive reviews in an easy-to-access format are like gold for local businesses. When potential consumers see others enjoying your goods or services, they are more likely to do so, themselves. Find ways to encourage customers to leave reviews, such as offering discounts or extras to those who do.
- A Step Further – Are You Optimized for Hyperlocal SEO?
The fifth and final consideration when preparing your business for local SEO is the neighborhood dynamic. In even the smallest of towns, certain areas may be well-known by locals but fall outside of the formality of a map. In these instances, it’s important to have neighborhood-specific language in your online listings, so that those searching for these terms – such as “steakhouse in lower south side” – will be more likely to find what they’re looking for. With the assurance of results from search engines like Google of local optimization, what they’re looking for is more likely to be you!