It is ironic that the internet has both broadened our world and compressed it at the same time. It has given us the ability to market our goods and services to clients across the country and around the world.  However, it also has become the main tool people right in our community use to find us.

In fact, American consumers are increasingly relying on the internet – specifically through their mobile devices – to find businesses in their local area.

According to Google’s Mobile Playbook,  94% of survey respondents say they use their smartphones to search for local information, and local searches comprise nearly one-fourth of all their smartphone searches.

What does this mean to you as a business owner? It means you need to make sure your local customers can find you — and find you quickly and easily — on their phones. It sounds simple enough, but we all know that keeping up with the latest ways to reach potential customers can be daunting.

How can you keep your local marketing fresh and up to date in the face of stiff competition from others in your industry? Here are seven ways to meet the challenge of local marketing.

Make Your Website “Local Friendly”

Last year, Google statistics showed that mobile searches exceeded desktop searches for the first time, and that trend is continuing. However, how many times have you visited a website of a local business only to have to search around the site to find out where it is located?

Make it easy for local residents to find you. A “local friendly” website has your business name, address, phone number, and business hours in a clear, prominent location. Adding a link for driving or public transit directions can be a big plus.

Mobile-Optimize Your Website

Fortunately, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to make your website mobile-friendly. Most of the same easy-to-read design features that make a good website for a PC also make it easy to read on a mobile device.

You should also consider implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages — a compressed, uncluttered version of your website that renders quickly — and rich snippets, structured code that makes your website stand out in local search.

You should also ensure that you have click-to-call and click-to-map buttons on your website, so that mobile visitors can either call you directly, or get directions to drive to your location.

Get Listed

Now that you’ve got your website in shape, it’s time to make sure people can find it. Promote your business with SEO techniques to make sure it ranks well in local customer searches.

Listing your company location in local citations is a great way to increase your rankings in Google’s Local search results. Quality citations will make it easier for your customers to find your location and for Google to verify it. If you’re located in San Diego, we have put together a resource of local San Diego Publications to submit your location to. If you’re located outside of San Diego, Moz has a great resource for the best local citations by city.

Use Social Media to Attract Locals

Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are good choices for increasing your local profile.  Facebook, for example, has made its platform accessible for targeted local advertisements.

You can also use your social media accounts to promote special events and contests at your business. Try updating your profile with photos to promote new products and special sales.

Another idea is to use social media to “toot your own horn” about any awards or recognitions you have earned that might interest your local customers.

Get Involved In Your Community

Your local customers live and work where you do. They care about the schools and the quality of life in your hometown just as you do. By joining your local Chamber of Commerce or by supporting a local youth sports team, you show you care about your community.

Your involvement helps spread goodwill about your business. In addition, by serving on community projects together, you also help build a stronger team of employees.

Show Locals How Well You Are Doing

To attract more local business, get your business on major review sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, Consumer Reports, or Amazon. Then be sure to keep your business information current on those sites.

Locals read reviews. According to a study by BrightLocal 97% of consumers in the 18-34 age brackets, read online reviews to decide if they should patronize a local business. The same study revealed that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.

Urge your customers to post reviews of your business and your customer service. Don’t shy away from occasional negative comments. Instead, use them to improve your business and your customer relations.

Tim Berners-Lee, who is known as the founder of the World Wide Web, once said, “There was a time when people felt the internet was another world, but now people realize it’s a tool that we use in this world.”

Even though the internet has made global marketing easier, the need for strong local marketing strategies is more important than ever.  What are your strategies for marketing your business to local clients and customers? Let us know in the comments section below.

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