If you have a website, then at some point in time you have probably googled it to see how it ranks. People google themselves just to see what comes up (it’s scary how many weird people share my name!), so doing a search of your business under a variety of keywords is more than being narcissistic, it’s a sound practice. It’s also a good opportunity to make sure that all your details are listed correctly!
I say this because recently I came across one of our competitors whose details were incorrect. And this in a franchised operation!
Being found online should mean being found in the real world too. Nothing turns a potential customer off quicker than to arrive at a street address, and find no sign of the business being sought. You might argue that they could have called first, but what if the phone number is wrong? The onus is not on the customer to verify details – it’s up to the business to make sure its contacts are correct.
The fact that being ‘local’ is on a par with being ‘liked’ in these community-conscious times means that you have to be on top of your game in these areas.
With this in mind, here are some things you can do to integrate ‘local knowledge’ into your marketing.
Google Places – this should be a no-brainer, but it is surprising how few businesses really tap into this free resource. Once known as Local Business Centre, Google switched the title and tweaked it in late 2010. It is an integral part of Google’s search, as important as any SEO you employ. Make sure you complete as much as possible in as many of the fields supplied, and double-check it before you post, and afterward.
Google has also responded to the march of social media by giving greater credence to the opinions of others. Reviews are critical in increasing your position now, so the more of them the better. I wouldn’t suggest you rush your customers to supply them, but drip fed over time it will certainly help build your ranking.
Arguably the new display also increases the importance of Adwords, as the paid ads have moved to directly above the organic search results, where the old local ads or 7-pack used to appear. Get enough paid ads in, and the organic results could be pushed below the line. Competition for spots here could be tight in the future.
Local Directories – there a number of these aggregating sites available, and many of them will have garnered your details from sources that may not be accurate now.
Sites like truelocal.com.au and hotfrog.com.au both had incorrect details for the company in question. A Google search will bring sites like this to the fore, and each should be checked, and if necessary corrected. Remember that the client won’t be blaming these third-party sites for incorrect information, it is your company that it will reflect on.
SEO – this will always be important to having your website found. What is needed now is to make sure your SEO follows this local angle. When was the last time you checked your keywords for location against those of your competitors, and what Google were seeing used? Don’t leave it to anyone else, be pro-active and test regularly.
Don’t forget the real world – Be active within your local community. Attend local business networking events where you can demonstrate your expertise, sponsor a sporting team or perhaps an award at the local school. What about partnering with one of your clients to put on a marketing event that will profit you both? How is your signage, seen from street level? Does your store front look inviting, and is it easily accessible?
If you want people to beat a path to your door, first make sure they can find it!
After the recent floods the first thing we cleaned was the footpath out front, the parking bays and the entranceway. We wanted our shop to look as normal as possible, ready to receive customers. And we did!
So keep your branding strong, your business cards at the ready and remember that success is best when it’s shared – win/win situations build lasting relationships.