In times of economic uncertainty and increasing online competition, it can be incredibly challenging for local businesses to expand their customer base, particularly if advertising and marketing budgets are limited. To help, here we look at some free ways that other businesses have found successful in the past.
- Improve local SEO
One of the ways to get your business website seen by more local people is to make use of local SEO. In particular, you should make reference to local area keywords in the titles, subheadings, meta descriptions and content of your website’s pages. Mentioning the type of business you are and your location in the same phrase (e.g., hair salon Salford) will create keywords that Google and other search engines become aware of so that when local people use similar phrases in their searches, your website has a better chance of showing up in the results.
- Sign up for a Google Business Profile
Google Business Profile is essentially Google’s own business listing service. It’s free to join and it lets you add lots of information about your company which will be displayed if someone searches for it on Google. One of the key advantages is that by signing up, you have an increased chance of appearing in map-based search results. So, if someone carries out a local search and a map of businesses appears, your company may end up being one of those shown on the map, together with your details and a link to your website.
- Register your website with local business directories
A lot of people still make use of business directories when looking for local companies and being listed gives you a better chance of new customers finding you. You can join big sites, like Yell or Thomson Local, local directories that have been created just for your town or region, and even join industry-specific directories which are targeted at people looking for a particular type of business.
A good directory will allow you to display a wide range of important information, including your website and contact details, location and opening hours, as well as customer reviews, ratings and images.
- Keep your NAP consistent
While website domain names are unique, lots of companies share the same name. The way search engines differentiate between them when people carry out a search is to use their NAP – the company’s name, address and telephone number.
Not only does this mean that the company’s name, address and telephone number should be published on the website and on all online listings; how it is written should always be consistent. Even minor differences can confuse the search engine’s algorithm so that it becomes unsure which of these slightly different NAPs is actually you – as a result, you might find that your website doesn’t get listed in results when you expect it to.
- Enable reviews
Social proof has become an increasingly important part of the shopping process over recent years with more and more people checking out the views of previous customers before deciding to use a company. This applies equally to online businesses and those with physical premises. Whether you are a local builder, dressmaker or takeaway, the reviews that people write will have a direct influence on the number of new customers you get.
Importantly, it’s not just getting good reviews that will attract new customers, it is making sure those reviews are seen. You can enable reviews on Google, Facebook and independent review sites like Trustpilot, what’s more, you can embed them on your website too, so that visitors can see them.
- Work on your PR
You can help get your business known in your local community by getting mentioned in the local news. Sending out regular press releases, taking part in community events, building relationships with local journalists and holding your own events are great for helping you promote your business to your local newspaper, local Facebook groups, regional magazines and on the sites of local bloggers, all of whom will promote their stories online, including on social media.
If you want to avoid paying expensive PPC and print advertising fees to promote your business to your local community, there are plenty of other ways to help your company get noticed by the customers you are targeting. Hopefully, the ideas above will help you grow your local customer base without having to break the bank. Looking for fast, secure and reliable web hosting? Check out our homepage to see our wide range of affordable hosting solutions.