If your business is one that relies on walk-in traffic or if you provide services to local customers, you have no doubt experimented with various ways to attract business. But today, most people will be introduced to a business through the Internet. So if you want to attract more local customers, you really need to optimize your online presence.
The first thing that you should do is make sure that your web site is optimized so that it’s found by people who are searching for businesses like yours either online with their PC or with their mobile phone. Critical to this is having your web site’s title tags and description tags properly worded and optimized. These tags are part of the programming code of your web site. But in simple terms, it’s what people see when Google or Yahoo list your web site in search results. They can either entice people to click on your listing or move on, so it’s important to get the wording right. But as a local business, it’s also important that you include important keywords in both your title and description tags, such as your targeted city and type of business. Having those basic things included in your title and description tags will help your site be included in relevant search results. Conversely, if they are missing, your site will probably not rank very well in local search results and you will end up losing out on some business.
To check your title and description tags, simply go to your favorite search engine and enter your web site in the search box. The first result should be your web site’s home page, and you can then see exactly how your tags are worded. If they are missing important information such as your targeted city and type of business, you really need to fix that as soon as possible. If you are unfamiliar with HTML or web site coding, you may need to hire someone to do it for you. It’s a fairly simple task for a web designer, but it’s a very important step in helping your web site rank high and attract local customers.
It’s also a good idea to have your business’ address and phone number listed on every page of your web site. Most usually include these in the footer. If your business is a home-based business and you’d rather not reveal your address, you can simply list your service area and phone number. If your business has more than one location, it’s best to create separate pages for each location, BUT make sure that the wording is different on each page. Google and the other search engines frown upon duplicate content.
Once those on-site fundamentals have been taken care of, you should address some off-site fundamentals. Every business should have a listing in Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, YP.com, Yelp, CitySearch, and SuperPages, at a minimum. The listings are free in each of these directories and besides your name, address, and phone number, you can also include a description of your business, your web site address, and images of your business and/or products. Some directories require that you “claim” your listing through a verification process. It’s very important that you do this. Claiming your business proves that you actually own or work for the business and that the information is correct. It also prevents others from claiming it, such as unscrupulous competitors (it has happened). We recommend that you take your time to fill out your profiles completely, which includes a well-worded description, images, and hours of operation. You will also want to make sure that your business information is consistent among all of your listings, which means that you use the same business name, address, and phone number throughout.
Being listed in these directories will help your business in two main ways: First, it provides more ways for potential customers to find you and learn about your business. Second, and even more importantly, being listed in these directories will help your business rank higher in search engine results, leading to more new customers.
These are just a few simple but very important steps that you can take to help your business rank higher in local search results and attract more local customers. By doing these things, you should notice an improvement in your rankings and hopefully in business as well. It's surprising to see how many small businesses have not yet addressed these basic fundamentals, so by doing these things, you may quickly gain a competitive advantage. But ultimately, by following these simple steps, you can position your business so that your phone rings more often, more customers visit, and your business continues to grow.
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