Think about it. Where do people start their local searches? It’s obvious with Yellow Pages books getting smaller and smaller that people are increasingly using Google and other search engines. Now with internet enabled mobile phones and tablets it is easy to find local stores and restaurants in a snap. How does a small business owner turn these local searches into leads? By being found near the top of the list! Here are five ways to turn those local searches into leads for your local business:
1. Add local flavor to your content.
- Put your physical address in the footer of every page on your website
- Add city or neighborhood names into your content when it makes sense. This isn’t about stuffing keywords or throwing lists of your 50 mile radius onto your site. Make sure it sounds natural!
- If it makes sense to your business, try posting a list or calendar of local events.
- Have local bloggers do a guest post from related businesses or strategic partners.
- Tag images on your site with the local city or neighborhood names so it will come up in that all important Google search.
2. Super-Size your local search profiles.
- Ever heard of Google? The #1 Search Engine in the world? They have this platform called Google Plus and now you can build out a profile for your business. They also have something called Google Places where you can post information about your business including coupons, business hours and reviews. Potential customers can even get driving directions while doing local searches. The best part? It’s free!
- YouTube? The #2 Search Engine. Ok, so you have a face for radio. That’s ok. Videos can be made in the form of customer testimonials, simple Powerpoint presentations or just build a channel where you build playlists of videos related to your industry. Somewhere out there is a channel for your type of business. Curate those juicy bits of information for your customers and help them get educated on the value you bring. Videos also come up in results for local searches.
- Don’t forget about Yahoo, Bing and other business directories like Manta and Merchant Circle. These sites are valuable online real estate that extends your reach beyond local search.
3. Help your customers rave about your business in ratings and reviews
- Many of the business directories have the added feature of user ratings and reviews. Some sites are purely reviews like Yelp or Health Grades. Keep a pulse on these sites by monitoring the conversation. One negative review can be addressed, but only if you’re paying attention.
- Claim and enhance these profiles by using keyword-rich descriptions and engage customers to make it easy to post a review of their experience with your company. One easy tip: Just ask. Your customers want to refer you and share positive information, so be sure to let them know that a review would go a long way towards spreading the good word. You should be collecting testimonials as a regular part of marketing activities, so why not encourage them to do it through an online review?
4. Turbo Charge Your Presence: Get listed, cited and mentioned
- Having your business mentioned on other websites is great for increasing your search rank. Google will recognize these other sites as confirmation of your standing as a legitimate online destination and a local business. Add your local online phone directories and don’t forget to check sites that collect huge databases like infoUSA and Localeze. These companies gather information for local directories so it’s important to verify that your listing is accurate. Don’t forget local associations, trade and alumni groups where you can create mentions in business profiles.
5. Become a Social Center
- Use the popularity of social media to build local groups around a topic or theme on sites such as Flickr, Facebook, LinkedIn, MeetUp or Biznik. It can be a simple online networking group for Business to Business or a real time monthly book club at the local diner.
- Since we’re on the topic of social media, don’t forget to throw in those local terms into your profiles on Slideshare, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Be sure that these profiles include a link to your website.
These steps may sound small, but when placed within a strategy and mixed with a little creativity, you can turn all those thousands of local online searches into leads right to your business.