How to Improve Online Results for a Local Business in Easy Steps

Local businesses use digital marketing to boost online sales, foot traffic in their stores, or both. Many online marketers working with local companies always look for new methods to increase Web traffic and online visibility.

Here are some simple ideas to boost the online visibility of local businesses.

Revamp your Google+ profile

You probably already have one if you’re promoting local businesses online. Google+ Local is the new version of Google Places. You might not.

Even if a local venue does not have a website, a G+ Local Page is essential. This is especially true since Google now displays local search results above all others.

You do not have a G+ local profile

Check if Google or a fan has created a G+ Local page for you. (The information may have come from Google Maps).

Type in your business name to see if it appears. Click Manage this page if you want to manage the listing.

If you don’t see it, create a Google+ Local account by selecting Local Business or Place in the options that Google+ provides.

You have already created a G+ Local Page

You can make your G+ Local profile more attractive to visitors and signal to Google that you deserve to rank higher in the search results.

Fill in as many fields as you can on your G+ profile.

You can add eye-catching images to your search results.

Encourage your customers and clients to review your business on G+. (I will explain how you can do this in a moment).

Ensure that your business name, address, and phone number are identical on G+ and the website.

Update and keep the page active.

Encourage customers to leave reviews for your business

Search engines, such as Google, consider the volume and sentiment of online reviews about your business.

Online reviews can be encouraged in many ways. You can ask for reviews on your website, menu, check, etc. You can also give a small gift (a discount, for example) to customers who have written reviews.

Monitor online reviews about your business. React to any negative feedback, and thank those who are kind. Use social listening tools like BuzzBundle or Google Alerts to discover what’s being said.

Which review sites should you concentrate on

Google+ views are important because many people will see them. Also, Google reviews can help your G+ Local listing appear higher in Google search results.

See what other review sites Google uses (you can find them by clicking on Reviews from Around the Web, located at the bottom of your Google+ reviews).

Searching for “[competitor_name] Reviews” on Google will also show you what review sites are being used by your competitors.

Register in online directories

It’s best to find quality Web directories relevant to your industry or location and try to get listed in them. Directory listings can be handy for two main reasons:

These directories increase the chances that your business will be found online when people search in these directories.

Links from quality directories will likely improve the position of your website in Google Web Search and Google+.

Where can you find the appropriate directories

You can…

Search for a successful local business (not necessarily on your scale; it could be more significant) and find out what links point to its website (using SEO SpyGlass, for example). You can usually tell if links come from directories by their URLs, which will have “directory” and “dir.”

Find relevant keywords on the internet. Search for relevant keywords online.

List your business on the online Yellow Pages

It’s time to share a little secret with those who do not know it. Some directory sites, Yellow Pages, and social networking sites allow you to search for businesses by location and get their data from a handful of services that aggregate online information about companies.

David Mihm is a local SEO expert I respect. He created a chart showing which services in the local search industry get their data from different data providers. This tool is great because it allows you to focus only on the most critical YP sites.

YellowPages (Infogroup), Localeze, Citysearch, and InsiderPages are others.

A quick note: The business name, address, and phone number must be consistent across all pages. If you have multiple business locations, for example, do not use the same phone number.

Plan your social media strategy

Many smaller local businesses claim they do not have time to engage in social media.

Here’s the thing: a small business owner doesn’t need to manage 15 social media platforms simultaneously. Choose a few social media platforms or even one you are comfortable using. Use it to communicate with your customers in a two-way fashion.

A local business’s social media presence allows it to gather customer feedback and respond to them quickly

You can also spread the word by using social media.

Here is a quick example. A shoe repair shop in my neighborhood has a young employee (probably a relative of the owner) who would constantly encourage me to “follow” the business on Facebook.

Did you know that we are on Facebook? He’d say. Here is the address. You can ask if we perform a particular repair type or ask for the price. When I am in the store, I will usually respond immediately.

I liked his approach! I don’t think this young man even knows what a great marketer he is. He not only told me what the Facebook account was used for but who managed it (him) and how quickly I could expect a reply.

What is the best social network to use for your business

Think about which network your customers or clients would most likely use. For example, if you run a pest control service, setting up a Pinterest page may not be the best idea.

To check if your guess was correct, you can look at online statistics and see where your target audience hangs out on social media.

Pew Research, for example, found that:

Facebook is used by 67% of all web users.

Facebook is operated by 86% of users between 18 and 29, but only 35% of those 65 years or older.

Rural Facebook users are 9% less than urban Facebook users.

There is a good chance that you can find your target audience.

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