Lance Winslow, a retired entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience helping small businesses owner nationwide, writes about how you can expand your business nationally. I would like to share his article “How to Turn Your Local Business into a National Brand” with you below. The article has been slightly edited from the original version for this blog post.
Your local neighborhood shop is a great place – but wouldn’t it be even better if customers drove miles just to get there? Of course it would! So what’s stopping them driving those extra miles and knowing they will find you there ready and waiting?
You might think that those customers are tied to just visiting your store as they live nearby, but actually that couldn’t be further from the truth. All you need to do is set up your web presence correctly and you will almost certainly see an increase in local customers, but also new business coming into your store from miles around!
Let’s look at how that can be achieved as per Saivian…
1 – Get a website with a map pinpointing exactly where you are located
If people who live outside of your town or city are looking for something related to what you sell, would they have any idea where to find it? Of course not! Take your online presence seriously and ensure potential customers know exactly where you are located. Use Google Maps (Google My Business) to pin point the exact location of your shop. This works like magic as this feature is now displayed on many of the major search engines, including Bing and Yahoo. On top of this, Google takes all of this data and uses it to influence their own search engine results pages (SERPs).
The map will not only pinpoint exactly where you are located but when people come to your website they can easily find directions on how to get there. You should also look out for websites that specialize in providing online maps that will list your location if you have paid to advertise on these sites. You can then provide links back to your own website so customers know they will find you at the other end!
2 – Get listed on local directories
By listing yourself on free media platforms such as Yelp, “Point Click Local” or “Foursquare”, you are opening up your business to a whole new audience. People use these sites to search for specific types of businesses and by being listed; you’re making it easy for them to find you.
As well as this, many people like to leave reviews on these directories (good or bad) which can be great for getting word-of-mouth marketing going. You can also offer incentives such as discounts to customers who leave a review on your page – just make sure that the review are genuine!
In order to get found on these websites, you will need to claim and verify your free business listing. This is a very simple process that shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
3 – Get Active on Social Media
Your social media accounts should be kept active and relevant at all times. This is a great way to get in touch with your local customers, but also a fantastic marketing tool to attract new business from further afield. Keep the content fresh and interesting so that your visitors want to come back for more!
4 – Get listed on Google My Business
Everything we have covered so far will ensure you are getting found by people who search for local businesses similar to yours. However, this might still leave out some of the larger search engines such as Bing and Yahoo. By setting up an account with Google My Business, you can not only list your business on their major search engines but also display your map pinpointing exactly where you are located on Google Maps.
You will need to create an account on Google Places first, and then link your existing website to this listing so you can edit all of the details about your shop. This is an easy process and takes just a few minutes. Doing this will also improve your ranking on regular Google search results pages, helping you get found by more people than ever before!
According to Saivian having everything listed correctly is important if you want to be making more money from local customers through natural search engine listings, but it’s also crucial for giving people added peace of mind that they know exactly where they are going when they set out to visit you or one of your colleagues. Making it easier for people to find what they are looking for means you’re really putting yourself ahead of the competition.
These are just some of the more popular ways to get your business found online. Search Engine Optimization is a vast topic and it would be impossible to cover everything in one article, but hopefully this has given you a good overview of what you need to do in order to get your business noticed.