How to get more website traffic to your local business
Promoting a local business online is a tricky proposition because you can’t rely on your location to get attention. A prime position on a busy corner can be enough to deliver consistent footfall, but that doesn’t mean much on the internet. And when you look to Google, the gatekeeper of the online world, you’ll always see the most prominent search terms in your industry dominated by a handful of top businesses.
Even so, website traffic is something worth fighting for, because your website is your most versatile promotional tool. Bring in some relevant leads, and you’ll have golden opportunities to make your case. Given the aforementioned challenge, how are you supposed to attract visits in such a competitive environment? Let’s run through some useful tips for local websites:
Polish your GMB listing
Google My Business (GMB) is Google’s business directory, and it fuels listings in search results; most significantly, it determines the local results. When you search for “pizza delivery” on your phone, tablet or laptop, every pizza delivery place that appears on the Google Maps result stems from a GMB listing. If your business isn’t listed in GMB, or has a weak entry, that needs to change.
Go to the GMB website and log in using the Google account associated with your business. You should supply as much information as possible, including your opening hours, your industry, your website (obviously), high-quality photos of your business (ideally your office), and a phone number — assuming you take business over the phone.
Place some searches relevant to your business, and see what local results come up. Look at the entries of your competitors and see what you like or dislike about their presentation, then use that information to make your listing as good as it can be. Oh, and encourage all of your customers to leave Google reviews — a high rating can make all the difference. Consider the vitality of the trust portion of the E.A.T standard.
Optimise for local keywords
You can’t compete with big businesses for generic keywords, no matter how hard you try or how good you make your content, but you can compete for local searches if you optimize your content accordingly. For instance, if you sell winter hats, there’s little use in aiming for “winter hats” — instead, append the region in which you operate (i.e. “winter hats in new york”, “new york winter hats”) and work those local keywords into your content.
Every local business has to learn this lesson. It might feel as though you’re limiting yourself, but that isn’t how it works. You’re just ending a futile attempt to compete outside your league and giving yourself a real shot at dominating locally. If possible, set up a blog to produce more content with local themes: it’s a great way to get mentioned by other brands in your area.
You should also think about working local Schema.org tags into your pages. Much of the information you can include would overlap with the GMB information, but it’s worth throwing in just in case, and for the various elements that aren’t present in GMB.
Try some offline marketing
Since getting top search rankings is tough, and driving traffic through social media isn’t much easier, there’s a lot of value in taking a different approach and going offline to get an edge over the competition. Why does this work? Well, the benefits are twofold: firstly, it gives you a more tangible way of taking advantage of your physical location, and secondly, it uses tactics that are relatively uncommon in the internet age (and thus more effective).
Why not set up a stall in your local town center at the weekend? If you sell products, you can hand out samples, and if you offer a service, you can provide initial consultations.
Pop-up shops and events are very popular in most communities. You don’t need to make any sales or win anyone over while you’re there — just strike up a conversation, have a great elevator pitch, and give out a card with your website address (or even use a QR code to get it across more quickly).
And if you don’t really want to host an event, you can sponsor one. You might want to sponsor a local charity: that way, some money goes to a good cause, and you pick up some positive press to build up your local reputation. You might find it cynical, but that kind of situation benefits everyone, so the reasoning behind it isn’t so important.
Market across more relevant channels
Economy of effort is extremely important in modern business. There are so many entrepreneurs and small teams around, and it’s made possible by the existence of powerful tools that can save time, money, and energy if used correctly. Because you don’t have the resources to compete with big businesses, you need to be smart. That’s where multi-channel marketing comes in.
The premise is extremely simple: instead of marketing your business through one channel, you market it through several. Studies into the effects of multi-channel ecommerce have generally found that using multiple marketing channels boosts revenue far more powerfully than using just one (though of course this only applies if it’s done well).
As for implementation, you could keep your blog updated, post on Twitter and Facebook, run an event, and keep a PPC campaign going. It sounds excessive, but with the right tools and tactics at your disposal, it can be achieved without prohibitively raising the weight of your workload.
Key to this will be having the right foundation: the wider the range of integrations and automation options supported by your CMS, the better. Many modern platforms (WordPress with its huge range of plugins granting it remarkable flexibility, for instance, or even integration-friendly Shopify) are infinitely more versatile than the one-note systems of old. If you’re running on an outdated system, it’s time to migrate.
The multi-channel approach is also about linking those channels together, keeping interest circulating until it (hopefully) leads to your website. Multi-channel retail may be all about selling wherever your customers are, but multi-channel marketing doesn’t demand action in the same way. The goal is to get your brand out there, building up recognition bit by bit.
How do you do this? Do some research to see where your target audience spends its time online. Do you have prospective followers on Twitter, or Facebook, or even LinkedIn? Are there business directories or review pages (along the lines of “Best [X] businesses in [Y]”? Wherever you see an opportunity to get some positive attention, go for it.
Ranking well locally relies on two distinct courses of action: the first is about ticking all the boxes for technical SEO, ensuring that everything is in place, and the second is about creating content and promoting your brand to establish a rock-solid positive association with your target area. Follow these tips to see some major improvements.