It’s wise to start small. So many small companies start out biting off more than they can chew which ends up being detrimental to their brand further down the line as resources get stretched.
Thankfully though the internet has evolved to a state where any small business can make a real impact online in their local community – provided they get the basics right, of course…
There are so many tools – FREE tools – out there that small businesses can utilise to promote their brand online. Using them is easy, mastering them is fun, and they can be as professional and as effective as you want them to be.
We’re talking, of course, about social media marketing and local search. It’s the best way for a small business to make a massive impact online by providing something original that no other local merchant can match.
Whether it’s marketing great content, creating a brand presence or more, raising awareness of your local brand with SEO and social media can net you a solid number of core visitors who will stay loyal to your brand while you grow it online and beyond.
Make sure you’re optimised for local visitors
Optimising your site with local information is critical for its success. Off-page SEO measures such as directory submissions and other forms of link building are important but don’t forget to include a number of essential on-page characteristics to improve local users’ experience when they visit your site.
How easy are you to contact, for instance. Are your business’s NAP details (Name, Address, Phone Number) prominently displayed on all your pages? Do your workers have business email addresses and are they easy to find on-site? If you’re local then HOW local are you – are you easy to find; are you a fair distance away on the outskirts of the city?
There’s nothing wrong with holding customers’ hands in this respect, and giving them as much information as possible to get in touch with you. After all, it’s strengthening the bond between yourself and a potential customer.
Also, as part of your local search strategy, create a Google Places listing (and Yahoo and Bing for that matter), use localised rich snippet structured markup and optimise your webpages for relevant local keywords.
Take advantage of local directories
Time was the phone book would appear on your doorstep with a list of local businesses, numbers and addresses.
Those directories and more are now available online, and are a key tool in helping improve your search authority through high quality backlinks and letting people in your area know that you exist as a company.
There are a number of incredible local search directories available on the internet that are worth signing up to when starting out. Places like Yelp, Freeindex, Qype and more are an effective starting point when building a natural link portfolio.
Once you make your presence known then the majority of directories will allow you to update your information and any business changes in the future, whilst some sites have review capabilities where locals can leave thoughts about experiences they’ve had with your brand.
Become a strong local presence with social media
Google+, Twitter, Facebook and more are just some of those free tools and are the best way to connect with potential customers and cultivate your brand in a positive manner.
But using them wisely in a targeted way to generate a local following, identify local leads and become an active presence – not just in your area of expertise, but in your area – will be its own reward.
Local SEO, listing your site in local directories and more can build up your regional search standing but complementing it with the right local social media campaign can work wonders for your brand:
Twitter is a great tool for building up a local presence and letting people know your brand’s movements on an instant basis.
Twitter also allows you to use its advanced Twitter search to locate people that are talking about certain topics in certain areas. Find people that are talking about matters where you feel your business can help and join in the conversation.
Tools such as Twitter Grader can give you a keen eye on the most influential accounts in your area, while applications such as Followerwonk can give you an incredibly in-depth search ability by listing search results by location, targeting keywords in Twitter bios and more.
Create a fan page for your business on Facebook and use it to connect with and like other brands and people in your local community. Engaging people with your fan page, creating polls, starting discussions and more gives you a powerful local voice, allows you to advertise your wares and spread word of your site beyond conventional channels.
Logging into your page and using it to befriend other pages is a magnificent way to build links with other local businesses. Picture a local butchers trying to build links in their community. They can befriend local cafes, restaurants and more, opening a dialogue and – hopefully – creating future partnerships along the way.
Google+ has a vast number of communities that your business can join. Google+’s communities are incredibly targeted and powerful with numbers of active people creating specialist discussions on a daily basis.
Share your content with these communities and chat with their members, especially if they’re local to your area to bolster your circles.
A Google Places listing created with your Google account is the best way to get your business on local search listings, and can prove invaluable if your site is properly optimised.
Facebook, Google+ and Twitter are probably the three most popular and effective social media tools local brands can use at the moment, but there are others out there.
Foursquare allows business owners to ‘check in’ to the brand online when they visit, with owners able to give loyal users discounts over time.
Foursquare is free to join and once you claim your venue then you can start to build up your followers by offering special deals. Why not give people a 10 per cent discount on a specific product or service if they encourage 15 of their friends to check in via Foursquare?
Foursquare is especially popular in the catering industry and can be usefully utilised by cafes, local eateries and more. Foursquare can also be linked to Facebook and Twitter accounts for increased exposure of your local brand.
If somebody tweets their Foursquare location, for example, people clicking on the sender’s tweet can get access to a fantastic level of information including the brand’s address, phone number and much more besides.
In terms of professional networking and communicating with others in your field LinkedIn is an unparalleled resource. Building up your personal and business profile has never been easier online thanks to LinkedIn’s incredible range of professional networking services.
And, what’s more, its search system is a great way to target people in your local area interested in your field of work.
Build up your personal and professional profile to the absolute fullest and – like Foursquare – link it in with your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles to maximise its reach. You’re always on with LinkedIn, and by providing consistent quality content to your local peers your professional reputation can only grow.
Have a lot of pictures associated with your brand such as logos, flyers and other images? Pinterest would be the perfect place to upload them and share them with people that share your sense of flair and style.
A dominantly visual form of social media Pinterest is a brilliant way to capture people’s imagination and wow them with your brand’s sense of creativity. It’s also the perfect place to show impressive infographics to local people – especially if they’re designed with their region and its quirks in mind.
Tell them all about it!
A final thought. Never forget word of mouth! It’s amazing how many start-ups fail to advertise in-store or talk to people about their online presence.
Never forget to highlight that you have a presence online when talking to people face-to-face. Create a poster that has your web addresses and social profile destinations on it to catch people’s eyes.
Email people on your mailing list to update them and make them aware of your social movements. Do a leaflet drop – anything to let your local community know that you’re there for them online at all times, ready to answer their questions and provide the most exceptional service in your area.
To find out more about the benefits of local search and social campaigns contact Webpresence today to speak to one of our advisors.