Compete as a small business by leveraging local SEO
Small businesses in rural Australia are starting to feel the pinch as larger businesses begin to dominate the online markets for their local products. This has lead to money being drained from rural communities and straight out of the pockets of local business owners who are already doing it tough due to the rising pressures of urbanisation and a dwindling young workforce. This has left many business owners feeling powerless and even some accepting the inevitable fate of their once busy small business. Luckily due to googles algorithm for local SEO and the tendency for online customers to prefer to buy from local businesses all hope is not lost.
How can small businesses compete online using local SEO?
Claim your rightful place within the google listings
If your business has been established for some time now then chances are you will already have a Google business listing and all you need to do is to claim it. If your business is relatively new then no need to worry you will just need to go through the simple process of adding your listing online. Your google business listing will allow your businesses details to be displayed whenever someone searches for your product or service within your area.
Let’s get started with a few easy steps:
- Login to your google account that you would like to have associated with your business.
- Jump over to Google My Business to get started.
- Enter your full business name, address, and the category that your business falls under.
How to verify your business on Google for local SEO?
When it comes to your google my business verification you have a few options on offer.
- By postcard
- Instant verification
- Bulk verification
All you need to do here is to select the one that best suits your business needs and is most convenient for you.
Optimise your local Google My Business Listing
Now don’t worry this is your final step in the process and doesn’t take long to complete at all. Make sure that you fill in as much information as possible within your Google listing and add plenty of eye-catching visual content such as your logo and an image of your business’s storefront. By fully completing your profile it makes your business look much more professional and gives it the ability to really stand out from the crowd. This listing will now allow your business to show for local search terms that best fit your business such as cafes in Cowra for example.
If you are on the lookout for a more complete step by step guide Hub Spot has done a fantastic job detailing the complete local Google My Business listing process.
Add your business to local business directories
In the past to be part of a local business directory you only had one choice and that was to submit your business details to the local yellow pages. If you missed the deadline to have your business showcased then it would be a disaster. Fortunately, these times have changed and the Yellow Pages is now online and you can list your business whenever it best suits you. Although I would recommend filling in your business details as quickly as possible. To make things a little bit easier for you I will list the best local business listings here in Australia that I have used and include a few pointers to go along with each one.
This one is an old favourite and by far the best online listing to currently be part of as google ranks yellow page listing incredibly high when it comes to searching for terms locally. As soon as you arrive on the website you will have the option to add your business and a few extra details to help your potential customers track you down online.
My recommendation: For my business, I have only good things to say about the Yellow Pages website. The setup is incredibly simple and user-friendly and your listings are favoured well by Google. The only bad feedback that I have experienced has been with the website service that they have on offer. With this in mind, I would just claim the listing for now.
The True Local business directory is quite similar to the Yellow Pages and is definitely worth looking into. You will most likely see this directory pop up in your Google searches from time to time and much like the yellow pages provides a very user-friendly dashboard for you to add your business to. I have also found their review feature to be quick and easy for potential customers to fill in which is always a good thing for your business.
My Recommendation: I would suggest treating this one like the Yellow Pages listings, fill in as many details as you possibly can and link your profile back to a website or a phone number to capture any potential customers coming through. Try to utilise their review feature where possible as simple to use and will add some extra street cred to your online profile.
Last but certainly not least on our list if One Flare. This one is mainly for all you service based business owners out there who specialise in expert fields. One Flare allows users to request specific jobs that they need to be done and the website distributes those jobs out to local professionals within the requested field. This website is fantastic if say you are the only Accountant within a small town and people are on the lookout for quotes around accountancy based projects.
My Recommendation: If you are a local expert within a specific field then this business directory will be right up your alley. My experience has been a positive one with One Flare and I have submitted a few project quotes through the directory which have turned into potential leads. I have also found that this directory has a high level of authority with Google and often spans across a relatively wide geographic search area.
Develop a website (Don’t worry it’s not scary)
A website is your storefront for the digital realm, its the place where your customers not only purchase your products and services its a place where they can begin to establish a relationship with your business. This relationship could be in the form of establishing a sense of trust, identifying you as an industry expert or perhaps even establishing a friendship that will make you the go-to person for all questions within your area of expertise. If you’re not the most tech savvy person that it is worth reaching out to a website designer to help out with developing a website for your small business.
Let’s dive into a few reasons to build out a business website for local SEO
- A website will allow you to begin to outrank your competitors within google for key terms that best suit your business. For example, key terms that I may be on the lookout for could include Bendigo website design or small business copywriter. It’s important to note that your website will aim to rank higher than your business directories listed above. This means that on the first page of Google you will begin to have multiple listing which will increase the chance that customers will end up selecting your business.
- You will be able to have a professional email for your business. I’m sorry to say it but the days of using your old personal email as your main business email are long gone. Customers cringe every time they see a Jenny19287@hotmail or possibly a Julie_rox_93@hotmail trust me I had one of these and it doesn’t look good at all when you’re flicking through a business invoice. I now use firstname.lastname@example.org or my professional Gmail account email.
- One of the core benefits of having a website for your business is that you are able to control the narrative and tell your business’s story. Great website content can impact the opinions of your potential customers and answer a lot of their questions before they even arrive at your front door. This can save your business a lot of time and money when it comes to dealing with customers.
Conduct local SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and a large part of playing well with search engines means doing some keyword research around your brand. Keyword research is simply thinking of what sort of terms your customers would enter into Google to effectively find your business. Once you have pieced together a few keywords your main goal will be to ensure that your website is ranking well for these search terms. Ideally, you will need your business to be at least on the front page of Google for these terms. As you know when you Google something like great chicken recipes you quite often look at the top three and occasionally scroll through the rest of the page, although u will hardly ever move to the second page to find what you are looking for. If you have a few terms that you would like to rank for I offer SEO services and would be more than happy to help out with your website SEo strategy.
Build a social media presence
This list wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the marketing powerhouse that is social media. When it comes to building out a social media presence for your business it can difficult to know which platform to start with and how to best go about building an audience. Lets break down the three most common platforms that are commonly used and in which scenario that best suit a business’s objectives.
Facebook for small business: Facebook is by far the most popular social media platform for small businesses and its easy to use dashboard makes it a popular choice. Facebook a great option for all types of businesses that are looking for a base social media platform to share their content. No matter which field of work your business is in you will be able to benefit from using Facebook as a method of distributing digital content. Because Facebook is so popular amongst small business owners I have developed a Facebook manager guide that steps small businesses through developing a time-efficient process for growing their Facebook communities.
Instagram for small business: Calling all florists, Cafe owners and interior designers this social platform will be right up your alley. Instagram is fantastic for businesses that rely on visuals to market their products. You are able to have quite a bit of impact of you are able to snap a few quick photos while you’re working throughout the day and share them in a timely manner.
One of my all-time favourite Instagram pages is Doug The Pug. Doug has quite the following on Instagram and would make quite a bit of money from sponsorship deals. I have found that consistency is key when it comes to marketing on Instagram. The best way to keep consistent is to develop posting into your daily routine in a time efficient manner.
Linkedin for small business: Now dont worry all you service providers out there I haven’t forgotten about you. For all business professionals, I present to you, Linkedin. This platform is incredibly powerful if you are looking to leverage a platform for B2B marketing, recruitment and keeping tracking of those company staff members that you met at a networking event that one time. The website even allows you to be endorsed for certain skills to establish yourself as a professional within a few key topic areas. For small businesses, I would recommend creating a nice looking detailed company page and encourage staff members to create an individual profile each. As a university graduate, I have found LinkedIn to be incredibly valuable when it comes to networking, job searching and reaching out to other business professionals with similar interests to my own.
That concludes the checklist for building out your businesses local SEO. With each of these steps in place, you should be dominating your local search results in no time at all. If you have any questions about local SEO or you would like to have a chat about developing out a website for your business I am always happy to have a chat.