Even though its often referred to as the World Wide Web, the Internet is a powerful tool for promoting your business locally. Many sites, including Google and Yahoo, cater to localized businesses and provide local maps and business information directly within keyword searches. This list covers 10 essential strategies for promoting your local business online.
1. Submit your Business to Local Search – Google, Yahoo, and Bing all offer a free service that allows you to add your business to local searches. You will need to fill out your business information and then verify your business using a pin number that is sent to your business address. Bing even allows you to use an arial map to pinpoint your exact location. After the business is verified you will appear in local searches. You may also want to consider submitting your site to CitySearch and Yelp. Make sure that you properly categorize your listing and add as much information as possible, as this can influence how well you rank in the local search results. Depending on the site, you will be able to list a website, email, business address, business description, and even payment methods accepted.
2. Ask your current customers to give you reviews – Customer testimonials can be a powerful factor in convincing new clients to hire you or buy your products. Ask your current customers if they could provide a testimonial that you can post on your website. Also, customers can review your business on certain local sites including Yelp and Google local. These reviews can be an important factor in how well you rank on local search listings.
3. Get your Business listed on Community Websites – Local websites including the chamber of commerce not only give you an opportunity to promote your site locally, but often provide an opportunity to gain a credible link that benefits your ranking in search engines. Also look at local trade organizations or local business directories where you could list your business and add a link. For example, if you are operating a fitness center, search to see what local directories may be available for fitness and exercise centers and try to get your business linked on those sites.
4. Run a Localized PPC Campaign on Google Adwords – Adwords allows you to place an advertisement directly within search engine results pages for a specific set of keywords. Although many of these keywords received worldwide searches, Adwords allows you to localize your campaign by only showing your ad within a certain geographic area. You can limit your ad campaign to a specific state, city, or metropolitan area in order to target only local business. Depending on the keyword, you may still be competing with national advertisers, but you are able to specifically target the market that you currently serve.
5. Take advantage of Craigslist – Craigslist is a localized classified directory. Although you can’t add a direct link, you will be able to advertise for specific products or services and get responses via phone or email. Craigslist gets good traffic and many of the listings are free so it doesn’t hurt to place a listing and increase your local exposure.
6. Advertise on Local Media Sites – Check with your local news and magazine websites and see what rates are available for an online ad. Sometimes these ads can be bought at relatively inexpensive rates and can drive local traffic to your landing page.
7. Optimize your Site with Local Keywords – If your site is targeting local traffic exclusively, make sure that you include local keywords on your webpage. For example, if your site focuses on Indianapolis, make sure you include the keywords "Indianapolis", "Indy" and "Indiana". This will give your page an opportunity to show up on searches for "Your industry" + "Indianapolis."
8. Search Your Own Keywords and Examine Your Competition – Find out what the local competition is for your particular keywords. Is your industry competitive? Make a list of all of the competitors that appear on the first page of google rankings for the keywords that you are focusing on.
9. Use Yahoo Site Explorer to Find Potential New Local Links – Once you have examined your competition, plug their websites into Yahoo Site Explorer and find out who is linking to your competition. This is a great way to find new sites that could potentially link to your site as well.
10. Use Twitter – Certain businesses have developed quite a following on Twitter and have been able to drive business daily using Twitter updates. For example, an LA Taco truck company uses Twitter to inform its followers of daily location updates. Followers can check Twitter daily to find out if the truck will be in their area.
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