If you’re a small business, ranking well in search results is always important. If you also happen to have a physical store in your local community then it matters even more.
All of the tradition Search Engine Optimisation methods that I normally recommend still apply, but because you also have a physical address there are a few additional things to get right as well. Let’s have a quick look at the areas you need to pay particular attention to.
1. Google My Business
If you haven’t done so already, establish your identity in Google My Business. This service ties in directly with Google Search and Google Maps. This is really helpful for small businesses trying to get established in local communities. Regularly check your information to make sure it is up-to-date. Be sure to include local phone numbers and your opening hours.
2. Make use of local directories
Essentially what we’re doing here is establishing backlinks to your website. You have a presence in your local community so it is important to integrate yourself into the local business directories. This will include printed business directories distributed within your community, however, more importantly, online directories specialising in your geographic locality. You can ask contacts in established local businesses for ideas on which directories are the most important.
3. Establish a presence on social media networks
Most of your followers on your social media channels will be friends with lots of people living in a similar geographic area. This means that if you can get them to follow you, your content can also reach a lot of other similar people. So once you know who your audience are and which social networks are the most important ones to target, then you can set up your profile (for example, using a Facebook Page) and make use of their advertising facilities to help local people find you (e.g. Facebook Advertising).
4. Encourage reviews
Customer feedback goes a long way towards generating future business. Many people actively search for reviews before engaging services or buying products, even if they intend to buy from a physical store. If you have product pages on your site allow customers to add reviews and encourage customers to add a review after their purchase. Google Maps also includes a very powerful review system so once you have your Google My Business identity established enable reviews there too.
Regularly moderate reviews to remove irrelevant comments and spam. If you receive negative reviews use them to your advantage by addressing the problems and then replying to the comment to thank them for their comments and to inform them that you have fixed the issue.
5. Multiple stores, custom content
If you are big enough to have more than one physical store then you can make use of customised content. This doesn’t necessarily mean building a separate website for each locality but you should offer special deals and pages unique to each location. Make sure that specials feature prominently on your landing page so they really stand out.
You’ll also want to include some sort of regular email newsletter which separately targets each existing locality so that customers can see what is new and what specials you are offering (where each store may differ from another).
6. Integrate yourself in your local community
One of the keys to establishing presence in your community is to actively take part in it. You can do this in many ways. For example, make sure you are included in any local business expos that are in your area.
You can also contribute to local community activities by helping with funding and sponsorship. The organisers of such activities always include a list of sponsors who get behind their local community. This helps develop local link building.
7. Search Engine Optimisation
No list would be complete without reminding you to get the basics right. We have lots of articles on this but there are two aspects which will be of particular importance here.
The first is metadata. Be sure to include reference to your geographic location in your page descriptions and image ALT tags (e.g. “photo of our stall in the Adelaide sports fair”).
The second is long and short-tail keywords, i.e. the “strings” of text that people actually search for. You’ll want to include reference to your geographic location in these too. For example, “buying shoes in Darwin”. You can use Google Adwords to help you with ideas.
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