If your main customer base is local to a particular area, there are some handy ways to market your business online. By following Google’s guidelines and not violating its terms, you can gain authority and improve your ranking.
In this article, I’ll explain what you should be doing to market your business and what you should avoid.
✅ Local marketing dos
✅ Localise your own website
There are a number of ways you can localise your own website:
- Include the locations you serve as keywords in your web copy
- Add your business address, postcode and phone numbers to every page*
- Put your service and location in your title tag.
*Make sure your business address and phone numbers are written in plain text — so you can highlight them with your cursor — this means the search engines can read them too.
✅ Post a landline number
Google, in particular, likes to see a landline number with an area code that matches your business address. It shows you’re more reputable and credible.
✅ Get a Google My Business account
A Google My Business account is free to set up and will instantly improve the visibility of your business online.
When people search for your business name, your Google My Business listing will show up at the top of the page — even if your website isn’t ranking yet.
The listing will look something like this, with photos, a link to your website, your location and reviews. There are other things you can add too.
When you sign up, Google will send a code through the post to your business address. You must enter this code online to verify your account.
Once your account is verified, you’ll have access to the Google My Business dashboard, where you’ll be able to add all your business information. This will include:
- The name of your business, which should be exactly as it is, with no keywords or other words added to it
- The categories of products/services you offer e.g. copywriting services, aluminium buckets — you can use SEO keywords here
- Your service areas — you can set this to United Kingdom or list the specific cities or counties you serve
- Your products/services, which can include keywords for SEO
- Highlighted products with an option to buy online
- The URL of your appointments page if your customers can make appointments online
- The date your business opened, which is a good indicator of your longevity and experience
- A section about your company history
- Photographs and videos
It’s a good idea to make the most of your listing and update it regularly by adding photographs, videos, events, offers, new products etc.
✅ Get a Bing Places for Business portal
Bing Places is Bing’s version of Google My Business and is good to have, even if you don’t use Bing, because it’s a credible listing. The more credible listings your business has online, the better.
✅ Get an Apple Maps listing
Even though Apple Maps doesn’t have the best reputation, a listing on there can still be valuable for your business.
✅ Get more local listings
Take advantage of every free listing you can get, providing it’s from a reputable site. Reputable sites are those that are run by humans and that aren’t covered in spammy advertising.
For example, you can get free listings on sites like Yell.com and The Dotty Directory.
BrightLocal.com has a list of all the top places to get local listings for your business. This is a paid-for service, but there’s a free 14-day trial to get you started.
✅ Be consistent when posting listings
Your business name and details should be identical everywhere they appear online, including your own website. So make sure you’re using the exact same:
- Business name, phone numbers and postal address
- Punctuation and spacing in your address
- Spacing in your phone numbers
- Full words or abbreviations e.g. Limited or Ltd / Road or Rd.
✅ Ask for reviews
It’s a good idea to have reviews on your listing. So, if a customer has been happy with your work, always ask them if they would like to leave you a review — and make it easy for them by sending the link where they can post it.
Bad reviews happen sometimes. If you get one, make sure you respond to it, but do so professionally and respectfully — I wrote this post specifically on how to deal with negative reviews. If you know you have a negative review, aim to to balance it out with lots of good ones.
It’s a good idea to respond to all your reviews — whether they’re good or bad. Businesses that respond to their reviews typically get 12% more reviews than those that don’t.
❌ Local marketing don’ts
❌ Don’t duplicate location content
I’ve seen a number of business websites that have a separate page for each location they serve — and those pages are all identical apart from the location name.
This is a bad idea because those pages will count as duplicate content, which means they won’t rank.
❌ Beware of using virtual offices
Google wants your office to be a physical location with employees on site. Using virtual offices in popular locations goes against its terms.
If you’re caught doing this, you could have your virtual office(s) and your main office struck off Google’s rankings, which means you’ll have to start again from scratch.
❌ Never pay for listings
Some sites will want to charge you for posting your business listing. It’s safe to say that whatever the charge is, the link won’t be worth the price.
❌ Don’t add to your company name
Some businesses have added SEO keywords to the end of their company name on their Google My Business listing.
For example, Company Name Limited might become Company Name Limited Online Marketing.
This might seem like a good idea, but it goes against Google’s terms and you could be penalised.
Do you need help to optimise your website locally?
If you’re running a business where your main customers are based in the same city or county as you, local SEO could help you reach more of them.
I’m Jenny Lucas, a freelance copywriter specialising in SEO copy for the web. I’ve been writing and optimising websites for more than 10 years and have had particular success with local SEO.
Main photo by henry perks on Unsplash.