When you are a small local business, whether you like it or not, big companies are among our competitors especially because of the rise of online shopping. But don’t be discouraged now! As Julien Renard says in this article, SEO is becoming local, a trend that plays in your favor and that you will have to know how to exploit. Here are three basic tips for setting up and ensuring your online visibility…
1. Think local: focus on your area of action
The key to success for small businesses is to think local. Indeed, rather than investing your efforts in trying to be visible to all internet surfers, focus on your presence among local searches. Not only will the competition most likely be there lesser, but also the audience you are going to reach here is much more relevant. It is therefore important to inform your company and its location on the Internet. Here are some tools to help you:
Google My Business
The first and most important that we no longer present: Google My Business. This simple and free tool allows you to display your contact details and information, but also to define your radius of action for better targeting of your customers. A well-informed business listing will appear first in the first results when a user searches for your business. This is the most effective way to be visible to users looking for products and services in your area, but also to appear on Google Maps and target customers located near your business. Google my business is a must to have a minimum of visibility and notoriety on the web.
Local business lists and directories
My second piece of advice is to go to the lists and directories of companies. Generally free, registrations on directory sites and local business lists such as Local.fr in England or Anugo.ca in Quebec are a good alternative to make yourself known locally (website or not).
Organized by category and city, these lists and directories help search engines know what types of products and services your business offers. You are therefore more likely to come out in search results.
The importance of reviews and comments
Finally, we finish with platforms that allow Internet users to write and share comments and opinions on a product, a brand or even a restaurant. We are thinking in particular of Yelp and Tripadvisor. Be aware that reviews and comments have a significant impact on the user purchasing process. According to this survey: 90% of consumers say that online comments have an impact on their decision-making during a purchase.
Suffice to say that in 2016, this is still the case, if not more … Also, this kind of website constitutes unique and relevant content in the eyes of search engines. And being present on this kind of platform means getting more visibility, being able to monitor your reputation, and sometimes even finding areas for improvement for your products and services.
Evolution of interest in the search for the term “online reviews” in England
Google Trends Graph
2. Use social media
It is impossible to talk about online marketing strategy without talking about social networks. They entered our lives one by one and it is difficult to do without them. They are an easy way to communicate and interact with your customers, but above all to display and promote the identity of your company.
The importance of being present on social networks is linked to the fact that they are (indirectly) part of the ranking criteria on search engines. Thus, you tell the search engines that you are an online business and that you are part of a community.
In addition, social media is an integral part of the consumer buying process. As this article says: 71% of consumers are better able to make a purchase based on references [de l’entreprise] on social media.
Also, it is essential for any business to have a social media profile, starting with Facebook.
It is the most important social network in the world with more than 1.59 billion active users (including 30 million in England). Suffice to say that to decide not to be on Facebook is to close the door to a lot of potential customers …
A real showcase for your business, Facebook allows you to display your information and contact details, but also and above all to share photos, videos and other content with your customers. With such notoriety, Facebook can do a lot for you in terms of marketing and visibility. If someone searches for your business on Google and you don’t have a website, Google will reference your business profile on social media, whether it’s Facebook or another platform.
And the others ?
Apart from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and others are also interesting platforms for your business. But beware, it is not a question of being everywhere, but of being present where it is relevant. It is understood that if you are a plumber or an electrician, you may not need to be on Instagram or Twitter …
On social networks, you have the opportunity to create unique and original content in keeping with your brand image. Content that users can share on their personal social networks. Thus, not only do you have a chance in addition to being visible to a new clientele, but you will also be able to spread information and the image of your company through the web. In other words, if word of mouth is one of your best strategies, you can use social media to do it online.
For this word of mouth to be effective, it is not enough to create a business listing, it must be maintained. Publish regularly, share anecdotes with your target audience, engage your audience by asking them questions, organize contests, etc. In short, be consistent : all means are good for creating a relationship with your community.
An active presence on social networks also allows you to provide personalized customer service to customers who have questions or to those who have had a bad experience. A great way to give a more human side to your business, but also boost your online reputation.
3. Create partnerships
My final tip would be to partner with local influencers and other businesses in your area. As we said at the beginning, you have to think local, which means using the resources available to us in our region.
For example, you can consider sponsoring a local sports team and gain visibility by adding your logo to their website to be seen by members of your community. Likewise, you can participate in activities that benefit your community and make your logo visible.
You may also have other local businesses in your area that offer products or services that are compatible and complementary to yours. Feel free to partner with them. You could promote your businesses mutually on social networks for example, or even organize events together in your region to attract new customers.
Also think of other local associations like charities, professional associations or other groups relevant to your business. Whether it’s an event, a donation, a content sharing or an article about your business, don’t hesitate to share and share what is important to you with your local community.
The importance and purpose of these partnerships is essentially to increase your visibility through mentions of your company on other websites of companies already well established on the web and within your community.
Why is it important ? You should know that in the eyes of search engines, the more mentions, the more value. Be careful, however, this strategy should not be taken lightly, by which I mean that you should not have mentions anywhere on the web, but in strategic places that are relevant to your business.
With the evolution of the web trend, small businesses can also do well by focusing on local targeted marketing. You now have the keys in hand to succeed in your online establishment and optimize your visibility. But be patient, getting a place on the web does not happen overnight. In addition, the web is constantly evolving. So stay tuned if you don’t want to be left behind.