Straightforward Ways Local Businesses Can Boost Online Visibility
For local businesses struggling to adapt in the digital age, reaching customers online can seem like a daunting task. Often, small local businesses don’t have the resources to hire a digital marketing professional, but are faced with the reality that – in an age where Google is a verb – having a strong online presence can be the difference between failure and success.
Luckily for local small business owners, many of the same principles that work for grassroots local marketing also work for the web. Even better, the exponential power of online communication means that your grassroots marketing efforts can have a greater impact than ever before. Generosity, great customer service, and effectively solving customer problems are just as relevant in the age of Social Media as they were 50 years ago. There’s no tech savvy required – all you need is a willingness to put in the hard work, patience, and know where to channel your efforts. Here are 3 simple ways that you can work to improve the online visibility of your local business.
1. Get Involved In The Online Community
No matter what business you’re in, there’s an online “pulse” to your industry. This pulse is an online community, usually built around some high authority websites that have been online since the internet went mainstream, blogs updated by industry experts, as well as a handful of online forums. This web of high authority online properties is woven together by Social Media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
Together, this forms an online community that is effectively the online “pulse” of your industry. This online community is where breaking news happens online, it’s where new trends in your industry sprout, and it’s the heart of industry discussion. If you have knowledge and experience that you can contribute to this online community, you can slowly build your status as an authority within the industry and grow your online profile.
They key here is that your goal shouldn’t be to promote your business. Being involved in the discussion is simply a building block for your online presence. You may not get customers immediately, but you’ll develop connections, build a reputation, and hopefully impress with your experience and knowledge. One day, you might attract customers who find your online posts/comments online and decide to get in touch with you, but that’s not the primary goal.
2. Start Guest Blogging
Once you start to become recognized and make some connections within the industry, this is a great time to start guest blogging. Guest blogging involves offering great content to other blogs in exchange for exposure to the blog’s readership, as well as backlinks to your own website/blog that can increase your search engine rankings. If you’ve been interacting with the online community in your industry and you have something valuable to contribute, it shouldn’t be a difficult matter to obtain guest posting spots on other blogs.
Guest blogging doesn’t have to be limited to blogs in your industry. You can reach out to any blog where your potential customers can be found. For example, if you own a law firm that does small business incorporations, you might post small business law tips and information to a local entrepreneurship blog, or perhaps swap guest blog posts with a local accountant. If you own a restaurant, offering tips on wine parings or exotic recipes may draw interest. If you’re a local hair stylist, perhaps beauty tips on a fashion blog would be appropriate. Guest posting is a fantastic way to build your brand, develop your status as an authority, increase search engine rankings of your own blog, and grow your online visibility.
3. Provide Valuable Content On Your Own Blog
Once you start generating some interest, you’ll need a place where these potential customers can go for more. In Web 2.0, it’s no longer enough to simply have a static company website with your phone number, address, and a few small blurbs. The most basic foundation you can lay for your online presence is a blog. When you’re guest blogging, having your own blog provides a place for potential customers to visit for more content, it helps you exchange ideas with others in your industry, it lets you store content that will help you be found by search engines, and it’s a place for your loyal customers and potential customers to find out more about you, your business, and what you have to offer.
But simply creating a blog is far from enough. If it were, the millions of local business blogs on the web would all be inundated with readers – but the reality is that most local business blogs would be fortunate to get a handful of readers a day. The key here is to create quality content that helps customers with their problems, offers timely news, useful tips, or interesting stories. Anything that would get read, discussed, shared, or tweeted will help build your reputation amongst loyal customers and new readers.
This is where your ability to do local grassroots marketing can be applied online. By providing great service in the form of useful content and slowly nurturing a community of commenters and subscribers, you may one day find your online presence growing exponentially without any immediate promotional work on your part. It may take months, even years to reach this point, but like with any local grassroots marketing effort, patience and dedication are the key. The internet is not a magic solution to business problems, but it’s an extremely tool for growing your brand. Use it wisely, and you’ll reap the rewards with a stronger brand, increased customer loyalty, and new levels of growth.
Nat is an SEO and part-time blogger for www.WhoIsHostingThis.com. Nat is passionate about marketing, technology, and writing.
By: Nathalie Sanderson