Local Directories – There are loads of business directories and listings sites on the web (nationwide and local), which provide a free business submission service. Take advantage of the great rankings these sites already have by searching for keywords relevant to your business and get listed on these sites first otherwise you’ll be missing potential customers.
Google Local and Maps – Submit your business to Google Business Centre for free. You can add your address, opening hours as well as photos. Your listing will then appear whenever someone does a search for a business on Google Maps and also within the Google Local search results.
Managing Word of Mouth Online – Customers have never had such a range of choice, or breadth of access to information. The rise of review based websites means that customers can now research small businesses based on real customer feedback, rather than just select testimonials. As such, connecting with customers online and managing your online reputation is essential. A great way to keep in contact with customers is through a blog, which is a simple but effective tool to informally keep customers up-to-date with latest company news and on occasions to defuse negative press and reviews.
Converting online customers to paying customers – Unless you have an eCommerce solution it is unlikely that you’ll be selling your product online. The challenge is to convince people once they’ve visited your site, that they should now opt to use your service or buy visit your business. A great site does not need to be flashy, keep things simple and functional. Content is king on the web, so provide as much information as possible to inform customers. Ensure that your telephone number and email address or access to a contact form is clearly displayed across the site. A clear easy to use map locating your business is also important.
The Future of Local Search – Looking up local businesses is an inherently localised activity, so mobile phones are set to play a major role in the way people search for local information. As mobile web-access tariffs continue to drop in price, the ability to search for recommended local businesses on the go will become increasingly easier. For smarter businesses who take advantage of some of the opportunities discussed, mobile local search serves as another great way to help new customers discover your business.
Max Jennings is co-founder of welovelocal.com – a social local search directory which enables small businesses to harness the power of the web and connect with new customers.