For many local businesses, their primary marketing channel isn’t print media, radio advertisements or billboards–it’s the Web. Luckily, search engines, social media networks and other resources are making the Internet the ideal marketing channel for small businesses.
A retailer?s website is the main online outreach vessel, so having a site that is well designed, easily found on the Web and contains pertinent business information is vital for local success.
Whether auditing an existing website–or starting from scratch–here are the important steps to evaluating your local business’ web presence.
Claim Online Business Listings for Local Businesses
Search engines have developed resources dedicated to helping users find local businesses that match their queries, such asGoogle PlacesandBing Business Portal. To claim these listings, business owners can submit their address and receive a postcard with a verification code.
Ask for Feedback on Business Profile Pages
Link to your Yelp, OpenTable and other business profile pages from your website, and frequently ask customers to review your business. This presents a great opportunity to highlight and discover what your business is doing well–and attend to matters that need attention.
Implement Google Analytics and Establish a Regular Tracking Schedule
Installing theGoogle Analyticscode on your website is one of the first to-dos for any small business webmaster. Once you’ve implemented Analytics, set up a regular schedule (e.g., weekly) to track where your website visitors are coming from and which pages on your website visitors are visiting the most.
Write HTML Code and Website Copy for Local Searchers
Your websites title tags and page descriptions should all highlight the local-aspect of your business for both searchers AND search engines (e.g., Susan?s Gift Shop is the premier gift shop in downtown Chicago?). Going further, addingschema.orgmarkup to your site can help search engines better understand that your business is local. Additionally, feature the community and your business? progress via a company blog to attract local search traffic.
Move Specials and Promotions Above the Fold?
These promotions and specials will often be the deciding factor between business A and business B. Ensure that these promotions are highly visible and change in accordance to what your establishment is highlighting at the time.
Place Contact Information on the Front Page
Too many businesses hide their contact information from visitors. Visitors come to these sites to find out: who you are, where to find you and how to contact you? Provide them with this information–and more. Place your phone number, email address, map of your location, nearby landmarks and FAQs as close to the front page as possible.
Ask for Links from Local Business Communities
Neighborhoods, communities, towns, cities and even states has websites dedicated to listing and highlighting local businesses. Ask to be listed on these websites, or strike a relationship with the website manager. This can lead to future features on more editorial-centered sites.
Connect with Locals with Newsletters and Social Networks
Newsletters, Facebook, Twitter and other mediums are a great way to gain a rabid following–but also a targeted pool of individuals to market to in the future. Ensure your social media networks are linked throughout your site (ideally in the website template), and place email newsletter sign-ups predominantly throughout your site.
About the Author:?Michael Koploy is an ERP Analyst at Software Advice–a website that provides free reviews and evaluations ofpoint of sale systems. You can download a FREE checklist for these steps at:?PDF LINK HERE. Michael can be further reached at @POSAdvice.