For local businesses, new customers and business means everything. With the internet quickly changing how offline businesses need to adapt and change their business, it's now more important than ever for every brand and business to make sure they have a positive first impression online.
First we need to identify when and where people are searching for your brand online. We've listed some of the many reasons below.
- To find the location of your store or restaurant
- Look over your menu, prices and pictures of your food/services
- Review what other customers and clients are saying about your brand
How to Improve How Your Local Business Looks OnlineAs a local business, you can try and focus your efforts on customers in your area and being a well known and trusted brand within your niche -- but at the end of the day, online marketing, search and content around your brand is going to determine your brands future.
1.) Build Your Brand on Social Media Before Someone Else DoesYour local business is probably well known in your area, but when you are competing against millions of other sites and brands... it's a free for all.
This means you are going to need to secure your name and brand across all of the major social networks. Not only to keep your name and reputation safe, but also to connect with your audience and grow your online following over time. We recommend that you get setup on as many social networks as possible. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Google Local and LinkedIn are all MUSTS.
2.) Create a Web Site & Blog for Your Brand / Local BusinessGone are the days when customers have flyers and menus on their refrigerators. Now everyone simply Googles a brand or businesses name, finds their phone number or menu online and then places an order. If your local business isn't online, who are they going to find? Most likely your competition. Creating a web site and blog are two of the most effective ways to solidify your place in the world of online marketing and search.
Setup a domain name (preferably matching the name of your business), throw together some valuable content and also make it easy for customers to find information and navigate through your site. You can greatly improve your chances for ranking higher in the search results by adding a blog to your site and creating more relevant content for your audience. (ie: If you own a local pizza spot, why not create a blog and write articles on where you get your ingredients from and why your pizza is the best? This isn't a question -- it's a must!)
3.) Engage with Your Audience and Grow Your FollowingNo matter what you do online, whether it be create a social media account, run a blog from your site or even keep your Google Local listings up to the highest standards... you are still going to have to deal with reviews, comments and questions from your customers and also engaging with your audience. The worst thing you can do is create a site and let it grow old with stale content. The same holds true for how you monitor and manage any negative or positive reviews people might leave for your brand.
The longer this activity isn't attended to, the longer it will stick around to potentially damage your brand and business in the long run. In short, engage with your audience and treat how people remark about your business and brand like it was your personal name.