You can be sure that your competitors are competing for search results, and if you aren’t trying just as hard, you’re giving business away. As a small business, you have to do everything you can to expose your brand to as many local potential customers as possible. The thing is, these days consumers spend more time online than they do watching TV.
The best way to reach Internet-savvy customers is to position yourself highly on Google and other major search engines. To sell your prospects on your product or service from the top of the SERPs, you’ll have to set up a plan to optimize social media presence, reviews and on-page elements.
Optimize On-Page Data
Optimizing your on-page data is the crucial first step. You must ensure that your on-page elements align with what Google wants to see. Here are a few tips to get you headed in the right direction:
- Create an appropriate domain name. Your domain should speak to what you do and where you’re located. The simplest way to do this is to literally combine your business name with the city you’re in. For instance, if you’re “Cici’s Cuts,” and you’re located in NYC, www.ciciscutsnyc.com would be a nice domain for you.
- Use relevant keywords. Place keywords in your titles and in your pages that are relevant to your business, your product and your location. Use keywords naturally. Another good idea is to go for long-tail keywords.
- Spread your NAP data far and wide. You should add your name, address and phone number to every page of your site.
- Share the love. Your content shouldn’t be all about you. Make sure that your copy reflects the fact that you’re part of a vibrant community. A great way to do this is to partner with other local businesses or to co-sponsor a local charity. Then blog about it! Also, mention what part of town you’re in and the landmarks in your immediate vicinity.
Encourage User Reviews
Reviews give you immediate social proof, and they increase your visibility in local search results. Importantly, the way in which you engage with reviews also affects your visibility. Here are a few tips to help you engage positively with reviews:
- Never, ever buy reviews. It can be tempting. Hiring people to post reviews for you can backfire spectacularly. If you lose the public’s trust, you might have to fork over money you don’t have to a PR firm.
- Encourage organic reviews. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with encouraging satisfied customers to leave a review. Checkout flyers, website callouts and email followups are great ways to do this. The more authentic reviews you generate, the more you’ll stand out in local search results. Yes, this means that you will get the odd negative review, but that comes with the territory. There isn’t a credible business in existence that doesn’t have any bad reviews.
- Encourage reviews across the Web. As part of your outreach, encourage customers to post reviews to as many sites as possible. Your reviews are at their least effective on your own site. Sites like Yelp! and Epinions have huge influence.
- Respond to reviews. If you’re a hot-head, you might want to have someone else handle this. You want to respond to reviews proactively, but if you’re hostile, you can cause a bad review to go viral. If you come across a negative review, thank the author for their feedback and ask them to get in touch with you so you can go over their issue in more detail.