At TrafficSource we offer SEO and digital marketing services for eCommerce businesses, but we are aware that no one strategy fits all – there are a number of different types of SEO, and what works for a larger online brand may not be appropriate for a shop, restaurant or even a legal practice that markets its services to residents in the area.
Local SEO efforts for businesses have unique requirements. They often focus on the community to provide reviews, and on the kinds of local directories that wouldn’t be recommended for larger or nation-wide online businesses.
Here we share with you a fun piece on what not to do, and best practises, to help businesses succeed in local SEO and marketing.
You’ve just finished watching Season 6 of Kitchen Nightmares and you think you know what it takes to keep Mr. Ramsey cool and open a successful restaurant in your area. In the town of Bedford on Avon there aren’t many French restaurants, and having lived in Paris for a time you want to bring a touch of haute cuisine to the Wilshire countryside.
It’s opening night and every Evelyn, Alison and Robert in town has booked a table with their family. An hour into the night and the kitchen has reached a state of chaos and panic. The turnaround has been much higher than expected and half of the items on the menu have already run out. Several tables have been waiting for appetisers they ordered an hour ago and an assortment of complaints is filling the dining room.
A few weeks pass and the failure of the first night has hit the business hard. The first weekends kept the business going, but now even a Saturday night sees the restaurant at just under half capacity.
Before giving up hope and begging Gordon for help, there are a number of ways you can get local visitors back into the restaurant. Word of mouth is important, but it’s even better if that word of mouth is being spread over social media.
Local SEO can put your business in local directories, address lists and reviews. Increasing your search rankings and positive social media buzz is perhaps the best way to get customers filling those empty seats. Just be careful, as local SEO isn’t the same as other types of marketing campaigns. There are certain pitfalls that you’ll want to avoid.
Here’s some advice about what NOT to do for local SEO.
Don’t limit your reviews to just one platform
If Kathy and her family are very vocal about the outstanding quality of your food, that’s fantastic – but word probably hasn’t reached Tim a couple of towns over. Encourage people to write a review on Google, but don’t stop there. Facebook, Yelp, and Foursquare have a lot of followers and you might find business from people further afield. Good or bad, reviews give your business attention and that’s what you want when you’re starting out small.
Don’t forget your target market
Who’s your clientele? You want people on the internet to see your business, but not everyone in cyberspace lives nearby and is going to pop in for a tartelette. Local SEO is aimed at attracting people in the area. That means promoting your business in local online directories, local review sites and maybe a few related businesses like hotels and B&Bs. It’s also easy to be listed on Google as a local business. Enter Google My Business and create a profile, add a couple of your own pictures, opening times and a little helpful information like directions if the business is difficult to locate. Google’s My Business is free.
Don’t forget which devices people browse on
Internet-by-the-hour at the local library is no longer how most people will come across your business online. When even your nan has a smartphone, you want to be sure your website runs smoothly across all digital platforms – tablets, phones, and computers. You can even consider hiring a student to develop a free user app that works across platforms. The easier your business is to navigate, the more potential customers you can attract.
Don’t fall asleep on the job, keep your NAP up to date
NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. If you’ve advertised your business on many local domains and directories, NAP details need to be correct and up to date anywhere you’ve posted them. If you’ve listed opening hours on Google that aren’t up to date, expect some pretty negative reviews from customers who were met with a ‘We’re Closed’ sign. It’s essential to frequently review your online listings and check all of the details thoroughly.
And finally, don’t call Kitchen Nightmares just yet; if you can get over the initial hurdles you’ll have the honour of being known as an esteemed local establishment, and who knows, perhaps one day you’ll grow big enough to target a larger market and require enterprise-level SEO services. Local SEO can help you get there if you know how to get the most out of it. Appeal to communities in your area, make yourself visible on local directories and related business pages, and be sure people can find your NAP details on any platform.