Local online marketing ideas for your business
I am often asked about local marketing but unfortunately we don't have the capacity to do this type of work for our clients, so I thought I'd publish a local marketing made easy article, although this is never easy. This is not meant to be a definitive list but a to-do list for your business with the biggest gains at the top.
HERE ARE THE 6 BIG WINS
TECHNICALLY OPTIMISE YOUR WEBSITE
Some simple rules here that you can check yourself:
- Mobile friendly - Look at your own website on your phone. You can check it with Google here https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly Would you be happy with the result?
- User journey - Can the user get the information they need easily and quickly? Give a friend a task and ask them to complete it then get their feedback.
- Speed - under 3 seconds to load a home page is ideal. Test it here https://pagespeed.web.dev/
- Check for broken links and spelling errors.
- Is your site https, if not sort this immediately.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMSE YOUR WEBSITE
It's easier than you think. If you have a small site, say under 200 pages, download and use Screamingfrog to list all your website pages with SEO titles and meta descriptions, it's free for up to 500 items, see https://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/seo-spider/ Remember this shows what's on your site NOT what Google and Bing have indexed. After optimising your website ask Google and Bing to re index your website with Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. Use this to change/update your SEO Page Titles and Meta Descriptions to attract traffic.
This is a large task that is too big to detail here, but there's a ton of resources online covering this area, just search for "on page SEO".
SETUP A GOOGLE MY BUSINESS (GMB) PAGE
GMB is free and easy to setup, https://www.google.com/intl/en_uk/business/. It's one of the most important listings for any local business. Think about when you look for a service in a local area, do you use Google Maps? I do as do many others! Google Maps only shows business that have a GMB page, so if you don't have one you won't show. It's a MUST for any business with a physical premises, especially hospitality of any kind.
GET GOOGLE REVIEWS ON YOUR GMB PAGE
Get more GMB reviews, the more the better. Go here and type in your business name https://www.brightlocal.com/free-local-seo-tools/google-id-and-review-link-generator/
You will see this page:
Then click on FETCH LINKS AND ID's and you will see links you can send out to a client to ask for a review. If there are a lot of companies with a similar name, or you are not on the list, try putting in your town/city at the end of your company name. For example Alpha Tango is quite common so I put Alpha Tango Fife. The link opens up the GMB review window directly for your business. Note: If you are new to GMB it can take a few weeks for your business to appear here. You will see this page and you want the second item GET MORE REVIEWS. Copy the link and give it a try then use it to request reviews.
Again this is pretty obvious but using a SM platform that your potential clients use is a great way to get noticed. If you have a community think about starting a group so your posts get in front of the user and are not lost in the noise.
Make sure you have a business page on your chosen Social Media platform. Ensure your location is added.
GET DIRECTORY LISTINGS FOR YOUR BUSINESS
These are know as Citations. Get listed on as many as possible but make sure your businesses data is accurate and consistent. If you find citations that use an old address for example try to get that changed. Here are some citation sites you should be on:
HERE ARE OTHER AREAS THAT WILL ADD WEIGHT TO THE ACTIONS ABOVE IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
TRACK EVERYTHING YOU DO IN YOUR GOOGLE ANALYTICS
This sounds a bit technical but it really ISN'T. Any link you add to a social post, banner, advert, blog post, or anywhere should be tracked. This allows you to see what parts of your marketing are working, the holy grail, attribution.
If you are spending valuable time and possibly money on social media advertising for example, you really want to know what's working.
Let say you are running a Facebook campaign for a new service and the link you are posting on the advert is https://alpha-tango.co.uk/services/e-commerce/ If you go to https://ga-dev-tools.web.app/campaign-url-builder/ and create a source and medium you will see the traffic back to your website in the GA3 & GA4 in the SOURCE/MEDIUM listing.
Go to the UTM Google tool and add your URL into the box. Then add a CAMPAIGN SOURCE, CAMPAIGN MEDIUM and a CAMPAIGN NAME. FOR example, facebook, ecommerce-ad-feb2023, Facebook Feb 2023 The tool will not give you a new URL at hte bottom, in htis example s case https://alpha-tango.co.uk/services/e-commerce/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=ecommerce-ad-feb2023&utm_campaign=Facebook+Feb+2023
You will notice the URL is the same, all that's happened is some extra information is added after the "?". This is passed to Google so you can see exactly how many clicks you are getting. I know FB and other platforms give you data but I am very sceptical about this as they are taking your money. Here's a way to see actual figures.
When you know what works and what doesn't you can direct your limited marketing budget at the channels generating the most return on your investment.
CREATE NEW USEFUL OR VALUABLE CONTENT
This post is a great example of useful content. It takes a long time to get this type of article together, many hours and lots of knowledge, but it's worth it in the long run.
Use blogs for news and more short term information, they are awesome for this. If the information is going to be relevant for a long time think about adding a new website page, think magazines (blogs) versus book (web pages)
GET MORE REVIEWS
Ask for reviews, most businesses don't. This works best on well known platforms, Google, Facebook, Trustpilot, Trip Advisor, Booking.com, etc. No that it's likely only 1 in 10 will respond to a review request, but if you don't send any out no one will respond.
Good reviews are VERY powerful. Use your GMB page to collect reviews if you don't have another platform.
Add testimonials to your website but sparingly and if possible on relevant pages.
USE LOCATION BASED TERMS IN YOUR SITES CONTENT
This may seem pretty obvious but mentioning your location in page titles and in your page content is a good idea. Don't be silly with this, once or twice on the site will do. You should also have a contact us page with your location.
This is often overlooked for Google Maps/My Business, but it's worth doing. You will need to create an Apple ID if you don't have one.
Go to https://register.apple.com/placesonmaps/ and type in your business, we needed to type in Alpha Tango Fife. Click on claim and enter your apple ID or create one with the link at the bottom. Agree to the terms as always. Then follow through and verify.
They need to useful and informative but not amazing quality. Any decent smart phone is more than good enough for creating business videos. Consider subtitles for those who can't put their sound on at work, these can be automatically generated.
This is often overlooked but you can add your site link to a Wikipedia page about your local area if there is one, if not create one. You might also want to setup your own Wikipedia page.
CONSIDER TARGETTED LOCAL PAID ADVERTISING
You might want to hire an expert for this but getting to number one on Google or Bing for a location/area is far easier, and therefore cheaper, than for a national or ecommerce business.
You can also use Social Media advertising to target locally.
Yes I know this is not specifically "local" but build a list and email the list ONLY when you have something of value to your subscribers. Don't announce new staff members or your new website, no one cares and it will get you unsubscribed. Remember everyone's favourite radio station, WIIFM, What's In It For Me.
LINK BUILDING AND OUTREACH
This requires you to ask for backlinks from other websites, the busier the better. It's not easy but you might know someone with a busy site that could do you a favour.
RUN A COMPETITION
There' lots of software services on the web and social media to do this. It's a great way to promote your business and if you give away say an iPad it will only cost you a few hundred pounds but it's attractive enough to gain interest. Make sure you get permission to add them to your email list as part of the T&Cs.
OFFER REFERRAL INCENTIVES
I am not a fan of offering a reward for a referral as it seems a bit underhanded to me, but others have had great success.
We all have to start somewhere and attending local marketing events is a great place to meet new people. Be patient as relationships take a long time to build. Perhaps do another member a piece of work at a reduced price so you have an advocate. Trust is important as if someone recommends you they are putting their own reputation on the line.
WORD OF MOUTH
This is the best marketing of all. Ask for referrals from your best clients. I steer clear of mixing business and private so I never ask friends and family for referrals, but you might be different.
INDUSTRY CONFERENCES AND TRADE SHOWS
Now restrictions have been lifted these will start up again. Go along and make some new connections. Don't be afraid to talk to people in your own business as well, generally people are very open. Take a lot of business cares with you.
This is a big subject so I am putting it in this list for completeness. If you're interested there are a huge number of resources online covering this subject.
Join and interact with your local chamber of commerce. Like networking, you will only get out what you put in.
FEDERATION OF SMALL BUSINESS
Consider a membership. Great for networking. Monthly magazine.
DON'T FORGET OFFLINE RESOURCES
Local newspapers, radio, flyers, billboards, sponsorship, local events, great signage, and if you have a vehicle or van then brand it.