A small local business in 2021 can often find it difficult to understand where to start when trying to build an online presence.
Perhaps someone told you to just get a basic 1-page website and open a Facebook business page, however, we can assure you there is a lot more to building a strong online presence than just that. A lot more.
To build a strong online presence for your small local business you must have the following:
- A good website
- A professional domain and email
- Social Media accounts
- A Google My Business profile
- Citations on local directories
- SEO-optimised content
These are just the main things you must to do to have a strong foundation online. Checking off the list above may seem like an easy process however, this is not always the case.
As all things online, there is a correct way to do things and a bad way to do things. For instance, you don’t want to have an ugly website that doesn’t work properly, this will actually have a negative impact on your small local business rather than what may seem, at first glance, a positive one.
Having everything done properly and in a way that correctly captures your business image is going to take time, knowledge and a bit of hard work.
The basics of building a strong online presence as a small local business
Knowing what areas to focus on what areas not to focus on when building an online presence will same you a lot of time in the long run. Having the basics in check will give your business a strong online backbone. So what are the basics things you need to have when building an online presence?
1. A Website
A website is with excellent UI/UX design is by far the most important thing you need when it comes to having a strong online presence. Without it, you are missing out on a HUGE opportunity to grow your business online. In fact, 81% of people research a business or service online prior to making a purchase decision.
However, as mentioned above, if your website doesn’t have the correct UI/UX, functionality or it is not structured to keep your specific audience engaged you will not be able to scale your business online. Having a great website that is crafted according to your specific audience and business needs is essential in growing online.
2. A Professional Domain
This is pretty simple, just find a domain that has your business name and either a .com at the end or a country domain ending such as .co.uk.
You don’t want a domain that ends with a .london or .agency as it doesn’t hold much weight in Google’s eyes and it is may lower your google rankings. It is also a lot easier for a person to remember .com or .co.uk than any other domain ending.
3. Social Media
You should be present on every social media platform. Be known. Having social media accounts will build ways that people can connect with you and show what you have to offer.
The more social media platforms you are on, the more likely an individual will contact you.
4. Local SEO
Having an SEO-optimized website will help boost your ranking in Google and will help you show up in local search queries. Trust us when we say this, executing local SEO properly will blow your competition out of the water!
Knowing the basics of building an online presence is all well and good, but how do you use these basics and get the most from them to really skyrocket your business and get one step closer to having a successful brand online.
Content for local businesses
Always make great content - Great content is very important in performing well online no matter the platform, but it is commonly overlooked by business owners. Google and all social media platforms love good content.
If your content is good it will get more engagement and if it gets more engagement Google or whatever platform you used will push the content further to new audiences. Your content should:
- Entice the reader
- Have a headline that contains the keywords your targeting
- Contain internal links to other pages on your site
- Have SEO-optimised meta titles and descriptions
- Contain images and videos relevant to your content
- Contain social share buttons
- Contain backlinks
Local citation listings
A citation is where a business lists their business on a directory website, for example, Yell or Google. You simply fill in an online form that includes your business name, contact number, address and website URL.
Citations are good because it means your business is listed on a large variety of high-traffic websites which means your business is more likely to be seen. Also, you may receive a no-follow backlink which is the online version of gold in Google’s eyes.
Here are some tools/websites that will help you with building or analysing tour local citations:
- BrightLocal is a great company that allows you to apply to hundreds of these listing automatically.
- MozLocal is a site that allows you to check your online visibility, or in other words, it allows you to see how many times your small local business is listed online.
Localised Landing Pages
Local Landing Pages from our experience is one of the best ways to increase your website traffic and target local customers for your small business. A local landing page is a page on your website that targets a specific location.
A local landing page consists of keywords related to the area you are targeting and it includes information about your services which will ultimately lead to a call to action such as “Book Now”.
Having a local landing page means that you will be targeting users located only in a specific location of your choice. Which in turn means that you are more likely to convert them into customers. Your local landing page should contain:
- A strong call to action (CTA)
- Engaging images
- Benefits of your services/products
- Social proof (testimonials, reviews etc.)
- A clear USP (unique selling proposition)
- The name of the location you want to target (this will be the keyword)
Make sure that you target one location per landing page!
Optimising Google My Business
A properly optimised Google my business profile especially essential as a small local business because you want to be targeting your local area. In recent times Google has been really urging business owners to have Google my business profile.
If Google themselves has said it, then it must mean something. A Google my business profile will make your local business appear on Google maps and if well-optimised will be on top of the search results for a local search query.
It also allows your customers to leave you reviews which is excellent as it provides prospective customers with social proof, meaning they are more likely to pay for your services/product. To have a well-optimised Google My Business profile it must include:
- Images of the workplace (Storefront, inside workplace + other images that are relevant to the workplace)
- The services/products you offer (make sure to include price + description)
- Name of your business
- Work Hours
- Contact Information
- Website URL
- Customer Reviews
As a small local business, the only competition you should target is your local area. Knowing this there are some techniques you can implement to you a competitive edge in the local area.
The best practices for a small local business is quite different from one that is not. For example, a small local business must create local landing pages whereas other businesses do not.
This is also the place where most businesses go wrong, they have all the basics set up properly (website, domain, Social Media) but they do not know how to properly optimise them to explode their growth online.