5 Must-Haves for Marketing Your Local Business Online

Online Marketing for Local BusinessBack in the 90’s, the Internet was a big mystery to most people. And almost two decades later… the net is still a big mystery for a lot of people. With the growth of websites like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and countless other sites, dealing with marketing your business online can seem more overwhelming than ever. And for a local business, it can be even more of a challenge. When every article on social media is talking about the 600 million users on Facebook, and you’re just trying to reach a few thousand people in your local community, it can feel as though you’re disconnected from the mainstream.

The problem with marketing your products or services online is that there often isn’t nearly enough visibility for a local business. Online marketing can be successful for local markets though. It just takes a different approach. The following five items are what you need to increase visibility and pull in local traffic.

1. A Website That You Have Control Over

It’s imperative that you or someone in your company operate your own website. Doing so allows you to respond to local events and happenings and make any needed changes to the site yourself – right away. Having to wait for someone else to update your content is no way to stay ahead. There are plenty of free publishing platforms out there that can help you to manage and organize your website yourself, so learn what you need to know and take control of your site.

2. A Google Places Listing

Google is undoubtedly the king of Internet searching. Unfortunately, a lot of business owners haven’t a clue that Google Places is the simplest, most effective tool there is when marketing locally with Google. Not only is this tool one of the most effective ways to get noticed in Google, but it’s also completely free! Create a local listing and make sure it’s complete and provides the information your customer base is looking for.

3. Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Whether you learn how to do it yourself or hire a third party, make sure your site is optimized for local searches. The great news is that this is usually much easier than optimizing for web-wide search terms. For example, there’s a whole lot less competition for the term “shoes in Hastings Nebraska” than there is for “shoes.” And if you followed the advice in #2 above, your site will be that much more likely to come up at the top of the search results.

4. Offers that Add Value

Not very many people make compelling offers on their sites. Too often, a site’s pages look very similar to countless other websites and don’t offer anything new. In order to pique people’s interest, making persuasive offers is a must. Whatever products or services you provide, offer something that differentiates you from your competition. The key is to give people an incentive to visit. Keep in mind that the bigger and bolder you make your offer, the better the chances are of people wanting to check out your company.

5. Follow Up!

A very common mistake entrepreneurs make when marketing online is not taking the time to follow up with prospective and current customers. This is especially important for local businesses. By using email or another communication tool, you’ll be able to remain in contact with people and provide them with special offers that will help to ensure repeat business.

Implement the above five ‘must-haves’ and you’ll give your local business marketing the boost it needs to dramatically affect your local web traffic – and your bottom line.

Matthew Toren

Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Adam, of Kidpreneurs.org, BizWarriors.com and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley).

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