Small businesses are America’s backbone and the support for its title, “the land of opportunity”. In a country falsely labeled as big-corporation-dominant, small enterprises actually account for over half of all U.S. workers. The American economy depends on these small business to perform well in order to support the growth new jobs today and a prospect of even more new jobs tomorrow. Living the “America dream” in 2015 means competing locally but using brand practices that work on a global level.
In a technology-driven market, there is simply no escaping the need to perfect an online presence in order to drive sales. While WOM (word of mouth) may be the oldest form of marketing, it is entirely applicable in today’s marketing world. Consumers are the driving force of small businesses and their ability to succeed locally.
Need some more convincing? The Harvard School of Business conducted a survey a few years ago to determine just how important online reviews are for a business. Turns out that an increase of one star on Yelp reviews can yield a 5 to 9 percent revenue increase. Consumers today are reading reviews, almost religiously, before making a purchase decision. A positive public persona is essential for a local business to keep its door open in a market that gets more and more competitive each day.
In 2015, building an online reputation that drives new business and a positive bottom line means understanding local SEO, executing strategic marketing tactics harnessed with social twist, and always thinking globally. Let’s take a look at how local business owners can make this year the best one yet.
Local SEO to Survive Google’s Zoo
Google’s Zoo, you know, the pandas, the penguins, and the other algorithm changes that keep SEO professionals on their toes and black hats struggling to survive. Local SEO is rarely understood by business owners. Their technology-savvy nieces, nephews, sons, and daughters are maintaining their websites or, if they’re doing well enough, a local online marketing company is taking the reins and maintaining their online presence. Regardless, all business owners should take some time to gain a general understanding of 2015 marketing tactics.
The beauty of understanding local SEO once and for all is that the basics never change. Put on your white hats and read this beginners guide from Moz. At the very least, understand that at the heart of local SEO is simply good marketing. Write content that your audience wants to read, deliver highly targeted ads that truly offer a deal, and always lead with your USP (unique selling proposition).
This year, take these local SEO tips and execute fast:
- Don’t just put out great content, find ways to get feedback from your audience
- Keep all focus on your business’s Google SERP and optimize to creep further up the list
- Make sure all of your local listings are accurate and optimized
- Use personalization factors like interaction analytics and search history
- Analyze your click-through rates, not just on your listing itself, but also on things like reviews and maps
- Keep your website simple, make navigation easy, and remember to design for the best user experience possible
- Pay closer attention to your homepage content – Google and your website visitors need to be able to understand your business and its products/services quickly
- Never keyword stuff, this includes spammy ways to list local cities that you serve – over-optimization will continue to get punished
- Make sure that your name, address, and phone number information is all up-to-date and accurate
- Don’t forget mobile – every website should now be mobile compatible
- Pay attention to bounce rate and find new ways to keep visitors on your site for longer periods of time
Local SEO means doing all of the things that big brands do while focusing on searchers right in your area. In a lot of ways, this makes the SEO’s job much easier. In 2015, encouraging reviews will continue to play a major role in small business success. Keep reading for more on that.
The Local Value in Social
As we mentioned above, the consumers are what drives the ability for a local business to gain a great reputation and do well. Yes, WOM is extremely important, but in 2015, these words are spoken through online reviews. It goes without saying that offering a supreme product or service is paramount in local business, so any company must start there if they have any chance of succeeding from a local SEO perspective. But beyond that, small businesses must find a way to announce to the world just how great their products/services are…enter social media and online reviews.
Consumers today rarely walk into a store or restaurant without having done some research. Whether they visited the company’s website and were impressed or skimmed through the business’s Yelp reviews and had to try the apple pie, the value of online presence in any industry is colossal. In a recent survey conducted by BrightLocal, a whopping 88 percent of respondents said that they read a review before making a purchase decision locally. Building credibility is important for any type of business, but for local businesses it’s crucial.
The internet is a vast land of overwhelming information and an excess of data. When it comes to local business, good companies get positive reputations quickly. In that same spirit, making sure that your local business’s social presence is a positive one is just as important. Facebook and Twitter aren’t going anywhere. Friends influence each other on social media. For companies doing things the right way, this is free marketing. Have at it!
Think Globally, Act Locally
The funny thing about the phrase “think global, act local” is that it originated in regard to town planning. Patrick Geddes used the idea to better grasp the concept of treating “local character” in relation to the treatment of the “whole environment”. In layman’s terms, maintaining a deep understanding and connection to the local buyer is essential to a successful company, both small business and large corporation. As such, local businesses need to remember that at the heart of any marketing strategy is a way to influence a single person to make a purchase. With this in mind, every local business owner should be spending their time perfecting the user experience, both online and offline.
Building a local brand isn’t easy and it certainly doesn’t come without a fierce passion and dedication to success. Luckily, almost every prediction points to 2015 as being a major year for local brands. Put in the time and effort now so that your company is amongst the success stories at the end of the year.