Small businesses in Johannesburg are embracing all aspects of business marketing; especially online marketing. Because most people go online to search for local products or services, businesses have to do everything in their power to get in front of them if they want to capture some of that business.
One of the most effective ways to do so is by making sure their business comes up high in the search engine results when consumers are looking for what they have to offer.
Local search is the process of optimizing your website to get more exposure to potential customers in your local area. It’s similar to traditional SEO (search engine optimization) but with an emphasis on geographically-targeted keywords (like “pet shop sandton”), online reviews and links from local web properties like city directories.
However, many business owners often become confused about what they should be focusing on when it comes to local search.
Here are 10 tips to make sure you are on the right track with local search and gaining more local leads and customers for your business:
1. Claim Your Business on Local Directories and Review Sites – You’ve probably heard of Google+ Local (formerly Google Places), Cylex, HotFrog and other local business listing websites. Claiming your business listing on these platforms is the first step to more local visibility. These sites allow your business to come up when local consumers are specifically looking for your type of product or service. Not only that, but your customers can leave feedback about your business on these sites.
2. Ask Your Customers for Reviews – The more reviews you have, the more credible your company is in the eyes of potential customers. Many consumers today go online to find local products and services. However, if they run into a business with no reviews – or only negative reviews – they can be instantly turned off and go with a competitor with a good number of positive reviews. Good customer reviews help businesses gain the competitive advantage.
3. Use the Same Business Name, Address, and Phone Number Across the Board – Whether it’s your website or your local directory listing pages, make sure your business name, address, and phone number are the exact same on all of them. This helps the search engines verify that your business is what you say it is, which helps rank your pages higher in the search engines. If your business has multiple locations, you will need unique pages and listings for each location for full optimization.
4. Use a Local Phone Number on Your Website – Your business name, phone number, and address should be posted on every page of your website in order to help the search engines verify your geographic location. However, many businesses make the mistake of only putting a toll-free number on their website. Use your local phone number so your website is “localized” and matches your other citations and local directory listings.
5. Get Links from Local Sources – Connecting with other local businesses in your industry can help your search engine rankings over time. You can trade links with other relevant local businesses, which will give your site more juice. This also allows you to network with peers in your area, which could lead to endless possibilities for further business growth.
6. Add Fresh, Unique Content to Your Site Consistently – The search engines love websites that have fresh, unique content added on a consistent basis. This is an indication that the business is still relevant and booming. One way of publishing content to your website is by adding a blog to it. Here, you can post industry news, announcements about your business, helpful tips related to your industry, or anything else that your local target audience would find valuable.
7. Include Keywords in Your Website Page Titles – This is crucial to local search optimization even though many businesses forget to include page titles all together. Every page on your website can be indexed by the search engines, so be sure to include a title for every page; include some of the popular keywords in the title along with your city name for the best results.
8. Make Sure You Use the Right Keywords – Optimizing your site with keywords works great, unless you’re using the wrong keywords. A lot of businesses “guess” which keywords may be getting the most searches. Unfortunately, they’re usually wrong. The best way to choose keywords is by using a keyword tool to see exactly which keywords consumers are typing into the search engines when looking for your type of business.
9. Use Your Location in the Optimization Process – A lot of businesses only focus on keywords and ignore their location when performing search engine optimization. However, if your goal is to attract local consumers in your city, you definitely should include geographic terms in your optimization process. This will let the search engines know exactly where you are so they can accurately match you with consumers who are in your area.
10. Keep Branding Tight – Believe it or not, some businesses out there operate under different variations of their name, which could cause a lot of confusion for consumers. For instance, some businesses use abbreviations of their business name at times, and use their full business name at other times. Choose one name for your business and use this name on all of your web properties. This will make your local search optimization efforts much more effective in the long-run and cause less confusion in your local market.
Local search can seem like a foreign language unless you have experience. However, it’s really a simple concept once you understand all of the important components and how they work together. Optimizing your website and other online properties requires a lot of preparation, analyzing, and patience. But the rewards are well worth every bit of anguish you may experience along the way.