The Internet is a big pond, and it is dominated by big fish. In fact, many entrepreneurs feel overwhelmed by the power of big brands, which often seem to dominate Google search results. Local business seems to be at a disadvantage.
I have some news for you. Your local business can’t compete against the big brands of the Internet. And you don’t have to. You have a local advantage. Rather than do battle as a tiny fish against the big fish in the big pond, your local business can be the big fish in a small pond. Being local gives you that advantage. Most people search the Internet for local business. They are searching for you!
Here are four strategies to harness the amazing power of local.
- Local directories
- Google Local
- Community Spirit
- Team Local
One of the best ways to be SEO optimized for a specific location is to have listings in local directories. You can plaster the words “Atlanta” all over your website, but brands can also have Atlanta-specific pages on their high-authority websites.
How does Google know which website is really the local one, the Atlanta website? Links from local directories will do the trick. If you can get a handful of quality local directories to list you, you’ll be well optimized for local search.
PRO TIP: Get listed in city-specific directories, of course. But look also for state, province and county directories for a more complete local profile.
Google My Business
Google gives local businesses a hand up. Why? Because local is relevant to searchers. Local people want to do business with local companies.
Google’s programs have changed over the years. The first thing to do is sign up for a Google My Business page (which is what Google Local is now called). Melissa Jones wrote a great summary of Google My Business and how to use it.
PRO TIP: Make sure that your address and phone number in Google My Business matches what is written on your website. And make sure that your directory listings also match. If you spell out Kansas in one place, spell it out everywhere. Be 100 percent consistent, so that Google recognizes that this is the same business at the same address.
Local people like to read about local events. They enjoy local news. They want to work with local businesses. Gail Gardner makes the case that a local business should blog, but not just about its own niche. Local business should blog about local news and events:
“Most businesses operate in specific geographic areas, so your blog must reach the audience that is their target market in a way that will retain readers.”
There might be a hundred pet care blogs on the Internet, but how many of them can review the best dog parks in your town or interview local groomers?
You can continue to expand your market through local targeting on Facebook and Twitter. Many of those followers will never be your clients. But some will, and others will refer you. Keep a local audience engaged, and you will build a bigger customer base.
You are not alone. There are hundreds of local businesses just like yours (well, not just like yours) seeking customers online. Why not work together ? Team local!
You can incorporate other local businesses into your website. Who should you include?
- Suppliers: “Here are some quality local businesses that help us deliver top quality work for you.”
- Clients: “Read what some of our customers have to say about our work.’
- Related business: “You might also be interested in…”
I have seen this work very well in the special events niches. For instance, a local DJ might also include helpful links to:
- wedding planners
- party supplies
- cab companies
- costume suppliers
Of course, for every company you list, it’s fair to ask them to include you in return. You don’t have to link only to companies that link back, but you should get some to link back. The benefits are two-fold:
First, you get a share of their customers. Visitors to their websites will be interested in yours, and you will get direct referral customers. Neither company loses customers. Both gain.
Second, the links that are both local and topical will be immensely powerful in your SEO efforts.
You can be the big fish in your local SEO pond. There is no need to try to beat out the Amazons and Walmarts of the Internet in their big pond. Locally, you have the advantage. Use that advantage to build your Web presence in the search engines, in social media and in the local community.