As of late, there are around 29.6 million small businesses in the country.
Around 63 percent of consumers and small business owners make use of the Internet to gather information about local business.
Among that 63 percent, 82 percent make use of search engines in order to get hold of information. So it is extremely crucial that small businesses have a strong online presence.
Because local businesses cater to consumers within a certain place, their websites should be optimized for local search.
Although there are limitless ways to do this, here are a few suggestions.
1. Claim Your Profile. This is the first and foremost thing that a local business must do. Claiming listings does not have to be difficult. Google Places, Bing Local and Yahoo Local may require individuals to go through a number of verification steps. This will include a phone call or a post card to make sure that you really do hold that address.
2. Get Reviewed. Currently, Google has stopped displaying reviews from third party review sites like Yelp from their local search results. But that does not mean you no longer have to think about getting reviews from consumers. You still do but this time you need your customers to review you on Google. So the next time youre handing over a customers receipt, you might want to express how much youd appreciate a review from him or her.
3. Accept Negative Reviews. No business is perfect. As much as you might want to please everyone, this might prove to be impossible. But dont hide under the covers when you finally get those dreaded reviews. Instead, respond directly and promptly to that review and try to correct the matter or make sure that the error does not happen again. Besides, getting nothing but good reviews might make your business seem questionable too.
4. Upload Pictures. This tip may sound very basic but your local listing will look more professional and legitimate with pictures. You dont have to get a professional to snap a few pictures of your store. As long as the pictures are decent and represent your business, then everything should be fine.
5. Include Your Contact Information and Website Link. The point of having local listings is so that consumers can get hold of local businesses a lot easier. But if you do not include your businesss contact information, then youre defeating the entire purpose of having a local listing to begin with because your consumers wont know how to reach your business anyway.
For nearly three decades, Chris Marentis, founder and CEO of Surefire Social, has been responsible for driving innovation and sales growth for large media and e-commerce brands as well as start-ups. Marentis is a frequent speaker at local digital marketing conferences and a contributor to SMB and technology-focused publications.