If you’ve recently started a business in your community, you’re probably thinking of traditional marketing strategies to help get the word out and develop a customer base. This could include emailing the local paper for coverage, buying billboard space, sponsoring events, or simply networking with other businesses and local professionals.
But the most important factor you’re likely overlooking is your local business’s online presence.
More than ever, people are going online to search for information on local businesses, and you want them to be able to find yours. Here’s a quick rundown of what users are looking for and how you can make sure they land on your business and not your competition.
What Users Want to Know
When someone goes online to search for a business, they want the search engine to do the work for them. This is the type of information they’re looking for:
- Goods and Services Available
- Hours of Operation
This information needs to be somewhere online for the major search engines to find and index, and the more places it can be the found, the better. Because once it becomes a chore to find this information, people are likely to give up and you’ll forfeit business to a competitor.
Getting Your Information Indexed
The first thing you need to focus on is a simple website hosted on a dedicated domain that displays the information listed above.
By launching your own website before submitting your information to other sources, you’re giving it more authority in the eyes of search engines, and able to link to it from those sources.
What are some of the most basic sources?
Google is going to be the most crucial source for your business’s information. Not only does the company command the search market, which will allow new customers to discover your business, but it will display information about your business when a user searches for it.
Start by submitting your business to Google Places so it can be displayed on map results and featured in regular search results.
Some other essential sources include:
Why do I need a website if these sources exist?
Your business needs its own dedicated website in order to have complete control over the information about your business. This means you can post pictures of your establishment, announcements, testimonials, and always make sure your information is up to date in case other sources get it wrong.
The best reason, though, is you’re able to begin targeting specific keywords in order to attract people to your business.
The targeting of keywords is part of a practice called search engine optimization, which is aimed at boosting the overall rank of your website for relevant search results in Google and other search engines.
Launching a Business Website
As the web evolves, it becomes easier and easier to create a website with little to no technical knowledge; however, hiring a web design agency to complete it for you is the best way to ensure a quality result.
Basic Website Features
Whether you’re creating your own site or having an agency handle it, you want to make sure your final product has the following:
- A logo or branding that matches your physical establishment.
- Prominently displayed basic information (location, hours) about your business.
- A well-written description of your business for search engines to index.
- Photos of your establishment, preferably featuring happy customers.
Using the steps here will get your local business online and off to a great start. People will begin to discover you through directories, you’ll be listed on Google, and you’ll have a website that can be linked to from other sources.