So, you’re a local business owner and you’re looking to expand. You’ve got a website, and maybe a Facebook page, but as far as you can tell, they’re not necessarily translating to more customers. What can you do? Well, here are some search engine tools to help your website get more local traffic and get more customers through your doors.
Having an online business presence is critical as more and more potential customers are using the Internet to research before they buy. In fact, 80% of searchers research online before making a purchase within a 10-20 mile radius. This means that people are looking for local businesses, and they’re checking out business websites before getting into their cars and heading over to the actual store. And if these figures aren’t convincing enough, local search volume is growing exponentially each year with 3.45 billion per month in 2012. That’s up from 2.3 billion per month in 2011. Local search is going nowhere but up, and it’s going there fast.
Putting Your Site on the Local Search Map
So what should you do with this information? Well, the first thing to do is make sure that you’re on the local search map. Registering your business with search engines such as Google and Yahoo! can increase your reach as your business name and address will appear in local search results on these platforms. If you think you might already be registered, go back and double check that all of your information is correct. You’ll also want to make sure that your business is listed in the right category so that Google or Yahoo! includes you in the correct search lists. If a customer goes to the wrong address, or your address information isn’t complete, they’re going to move onto the next company and you’ll lose valuable business.
In addition to registering with online directories, it is also important to make sure your information is correct on your website, and that the information visitors most want to see is easily accessible. Searchers go to business websites for a list of services that a company offers, the business address, and also the business hours. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to navigate a difficult website to find the information you want, so don’t make it hard on your customers. Listing your address and hours on the home page makes it easy for visitors to get a quick idea of where you are and when you’re available.
It’s a good idea to look at the analytical data on how users find your website and interact with it, and then to do some keyword research to find out what search terms would be beneficial for use on your site. Generally, you will need to include keywords that relate to your business type and your local area. Using Google Analytics and Adwords to understand how visitors interact with your site can help you to optimize your content, and using a keyword research tool like Google Adwords can help you choose which business keywords to work into your content to get ranked in search results.
When searching for keywords it’s good to look for ones that have a local tag, so if you’re a local plumbing business in Orem, Utah, you want to understand the competition for “plumber in Orem” as well as other search terms. Since searchers look for businesses in a 10-20 mile radius attaching the location of your business will improve your search engine rankings for plumbers in Orem as well as Provo and the surrounding areas.
Writing Content that Sticks
Getting Internet users to your site is great, but it’s only half the battle: you’ve also got to keep them there. Sure, if a customer is only interested in getting your address and business hours information because they’re already sold on your products and services, that’s great, but what about the people that still need convincing? The best way to reach them is with interesting and engaging content, and even loyal customers appreciate it when a business speaks to them about more than just the services they offer.
Attaching a blog to your site can be incredibly beneficial in building a business following, and making your customers feel connected to your message and products. Making your business appear human can give you major brownie points with potential customers because it immediately makes you relatable. When customers are looking for service, they want to interact with other human beings that can understand them, so showcasing your staff and discussing topics that relate to wider business topics shows consumers that you are interested in more than just selling to them.
Capturing Mobile and Desktop Internet Users with Speed
One of the biggest frustrations Internet users have is the speed that a website loads, and if your website just cannot hold up to the amount of traffic it’s getting, you’re going to lose customers. If you’re self hosting and are having problems with bandwidth, then a hosting service will help you to improve your uptime and keep your servers and potential customers happy.
Page loading problems are particularly perilous for mobile users, and since the number one access method for local search is the mobile browser, you need to make sure that your site is easily viewable on mobile devices. As the people who use their phones to look for information are usually on-the-go, it is important to ensure that your site loads quickly on a mobile device and isn’t hampered by huge picture files or videos that take forever to load. Creating a subdomain that loads a mobile mirror site is a great way to do this without having to rebuild everything from scratch, but remember that these changes are worth it. If a mobile consumer cannot access your site, they’re going to get frustrated and move on.
Getting Customers through Your Doors
Local search optimization is all about increasing your online visibility and reach in order to get people to really take notice of your business. However, it is important to always remember that reaching costumers and creating an online business following will ultimately translate to increased sales and traffic. The more good things people hear about your business, the more interested they’ll become in purchasing your services, so do not underestimate the power of local search, a well-built website, and great content. In order to get people talking, you’ve got to start the conversation.
Cummings, Ashley R. “The Basics of Local Optimization.” OrangeSoda Blog. http://www.orangesoda.com/blog/local-optimization-basics/. (29 April, 2013).
Garfield, Dan. “The Power of Local Mobile Search.” OrangeSoda Blog. http://www.orangesoda.com/blog/the-power-of-local-mobile-search-infographic/. (29 April, 2013).
Holter, Eric. “How to Add Your Business to Google Maps and Yahoo!” Newfangled. http://www.newfangled.com/how_to_add_your_business_to_google_maps_and_yahoo. (29 April, 2013).
Smith, Cameron. “How to Trap Your Blog Visitors and Keep Them on Your Site.” NetHosing Blog. http://www.nethosting.com/buzz/blog/how-to-trap-your-blog-visitors-and-keep-them-on-your-site/. (29 April, 2013).