Need a plumber? Looking for a tailor? Maybe you want hire a personal trainer. When we are looking for a local service, unless we have existing connections with a business, we tend to rely on Google.
If you’re selling a product or service to a local market, not only do you need a web presence, but you also need to increase local visibility and put your small business in front of your target audience.
Here are five online marketing techniques to get your business in front of potential customers:
Most consumers will immediately employ a Google search when looking for local products and services. So, it’s essential for your business to have a presence on search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant keywords. If you are new to SEO, check out this beginners guide to SEO.
As a local business you cannot ignore the potential of local SEO. When online users search Google with keywords that contain a location as a qualifier (i.e. hairdresser in Seattle), Google will display local business listings on the results page and Google maps, along with organic and paid listings.
For example, if you own a custom tailor shop in New York, you will want your business listed in the local section and organic listings when a user searches for “tailor in New York”. Google uses your business’ address, when you submit it to Google Local, alongside several online business directories to provide company listings with geographically relevant offerings.
Your business will also be listed in the Google maps results at the top right hand side of the page so users can check out where you’re based. Keep in mind, this is not an alternative to organic SEO efforts; you can (and should) get listed in both. Local listings take up a large part of the results page, appearing above the bulk of organic results, so it’s essential to get your business here.
Great Content in the Right Places
“Around 40% of the world population has an internet connection” and a “third billion [of the population] will be reached by the end of 2014,” according to Internet Live Stats. So, it is safe to say that most of your customers use the Internet. They may not use it to read about your specific product or service, but they will use it to consume information.
A great way to build brand awareness and grow website traffic is to create content and publish it in places your target audience hangs out. Let’s say you own a plumbing business in London. You’re target customer probably isn’t interested in reading about plumbing. You’re targeting 25-34 year old professionals with gainful employment in the city. They expect quick response times, but will pay a premium price for the privilege.
So, you’ll ask existing clients that match this profile what kind of sites they read online and find they read the London Evening Standard and other pubs that cater to their interests. That site in particular is mentioned often and happens to publish a really popular football section on London clubs, so you have an idea to produce an infographic to highlight premier league players with noteworthy facts.
Next, you publish the piece on your company website and offer the findings to an online journalist at the same outlet. They accept it and you gain brand awareness with your target market, receive referral traffic from any visitors that click through to your website and added SEO benefits (e.g., an inbound link) – not to mention the social media shares to follow.
Your company website offers the perfect opportunity to showcase prior work. However, many companies waste the opportunity by presenting a “Portfolio” page with a hodgepodge of low quality photos. Rather than just dumping a load of pictures of your work on the website plan the case study in advance.
Take high resolution photos with a decent quality camera throughout the project. Then, create a case study on your site which details the business challenges and objectives of the project along with a visual timeline of how you delivered results. Request a customer testimonial to publish with the case study and you have a live, digital project to showcase to new prospects and substantiate marketing claims.
Online Tools and Calculators
Consider this: When a homeowner has a problem with leaking taps or requires an upgraded HVAC, they will take to the web and research estimated costs before approaching contractors to outsource the work. If we take general building work as an example, the keyword phrase “construction cost estimator” is searched for 1,600 times per month in the US.
If you can catch the attention of prospects during their research phase of the purchase funnel and help them, without a hard sell, you have a good chance of starting a relationship and receiving the sales inquiry when they’re ready. This roofing calculator and self-build calculator are good examples, but it’s not limited to construction. You could offer tools on how to measure yourself for a suit, how to select flowers for different occasions, etc. Be creative and create content that provides value rather than directly selling your business.
Encourage Repeat Visits
Unless your target customer is in critical need of a service, it’s highly likely that he or she will spend an extended period of time (i.e., between 40-137 days) researching the purchase of products or services over $500. They’ll visit several competitors and industry related websites during this process.
If your company website is just a digital sales brochure, you’re encouraging one visit from the consumer. They will check out your services, portfolio, and prices and then leave. Instead, you want them to have a reason to keep coming back so that when they are ready to make an inquiry, they will contact you. If you publish regular content that’s of use to them (e.g., company blog posts, calculators, how-to-videos, DIY tips, etc.) they’ll find it on search engines (if you have adequate SEO efforts in place) during the research period and develop a connection with your brand prior to purchase.
A website is an essential marketing tool for modern businesses, but a static site with no visibility serves no purpose. Make the most of the online opportunities that exist for your business, invest a bit of time and money into your strategy, and tap into the inbound marketing opportunities available on the Internet.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Liam Curley is a director and co-founder of Smoke & Croak, a start-up multilingual digital marketing agency that specializes in website translation and international SEO. He blogs on the Smoke & Croak website. Connect with @smokecroakliam on Twitter.
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