Now more then ever profitable opportunities exist to promote your local business on the Internet. Through search engine optimization, pay per click advertising, email marketing and local listings, you can connect with a willing audience. Your customers are turning to the Internet to find local products and services. If your competitors have an online presence and you don’t, guess who gets to take home the prize.
Below are several crucial techniques for promoting your business regionally:
Listings in local search engines and directories
Pay Per Click advertising in Google and Yahoo
Search engine optimization
Even if you do not have a web site you can still promote your local business online. For example, you can list you business and contact information with the local search engines of Yahoo and Google. It takes an hour at the most to get a free listing on the two most popular search engines. Your listing will include an interactive map that can direct customers right to your front door. Another important resource that accepts free listings is Verizon’s Superpages.com, as does the local version of AOL. And don’t overlook regional and industry specific directories. Many accept free listings, or charge a nominal fee. Once again, for most a web site is not a prerequisite.
Pay Per Click Advertising
If you do have a web site, than you need to promote your local business through Pay Per Click on both Google and Yahoo. With Pay Per Advertising you bid on keyword terms that your potential customers would use in a search. An example is “Tacoma Wedding Photographer.” The cost per click depends on how competitive the term is. You only pay if a prospect clicks on your text ad and goes to your site. This is referred to as performance advertising, where you only pay if the ad performs.
The appeal of PPC is you can get it going within an hour. You set the budget, you determine what keywords are relevant, and you determine your price per click. You can also turn it on or off in an instance. The general consensus is that PPC generates a higher return on your investment over traditional offline advertising.
Search Engine Optimization – Free Traffic
For those that like a challenge there is search engine optimization. SEO is the ability to optimize your web site for high search ranking. If you can optimize your site properly, you can benefit from an endless stream of free, targeted search engine traffic. It takes time and effort, but the results can take your business to a whole new level. If you are selling nationally SEO can be cutthroat. For a local business it can be relatively easy to rank for terms that relate to your business and location. (ex. Richmond Wedding Photographer)
Local Email Marketing
Another tremendous marketing tool is email. For virtually nothing you can communicate with both prospects and your existing customers. Email is an excellent method to convert prospects to customers. It can also significantly increase the lifetime value
of your existing customers by simply alerting them to upcoming sales and promotions. Knowing the power of email communication, I find it hard to believe how few use it to promote their local business. Now listen up, start collecting your customer’s email addresses today. I can guarantee they will respond favorably to joining your list. We all like to be informed on bargains and special offers.
The future of your local business will depend on the Internet. It is estimated 25% of searches online are local in nature. The Internet is the perfect resource for finding local products and services, which is why your customers are searching online. Now is the time to get your business positioned to reap the rewards.
Promote Your Local Business Online And Offline
Nowadays, many people search online for services instead of reaching for the phone book. To increase your online exposure your pages should include your street address, zip code, phone number, and five-digit zip code. Include place names in the title tag such as “the name of your city and your service.” When you seek links to your site contact local businesses. A noncompeting local business should be interested in exchanging links with you. Make sure that the anchor text includes the name of your city. List your business within local business directories. If you are a member of you local chamber of commerce, ask for a link from their website.
Submit To Directories
Links from directories are some of the most valuable links you can get. Note: Directories are not the same as search engines. A link from a directory will help your search engine ranking. There are thousands of online directories, but some are more significant than others. In addition to directories such as the Open Directory Project, some of the most important search engines such as Yahoo and Google have directories of their own.
Some of the greatest advantages of submitting your site to directories are you get:
One-way links. Remember, one-way links are more valuable than reciprocal links.
Potentially qualified clients repeatedly see your listing.
Obtaining links from directories drive an increasing amount of traffic to your site. In addition, you are improving your ranking within search engines such as Google and Yahoo. Once you submit your site information to a directory, it may take weeks or even months to get listed.
While many directories are free, don’t be surprised when you are asked to pay for submission. Certain directories promise to expedite the submission process for paying customers. Directories provide you with a constant stream of visitors and highly valuable one-way links, be sure they are part of your marketing strategy.
Submit Your Site to Industry Sites and Specialized Directories
Because a link from a relevant site is more important than one from an irrelevant site, links from industry sites and specialized directories are highly valuable. If your business is a member of professional associations, ask for a link to your site. The more links you obtain from related websites, the more likely your site will be considered an authority site.
Searching online you will find directories focused on your particular industry such as business coaching, accounting, retail, and such. You almost certainly belong to various trade associations that list member sites. Contact the Webmaster and ask for a link. You may get a link for free or you may be required to pay a fee, either way, it is worth it.