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How to Make Your Local Business Visible on Search Engines

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Follow these four tips to increase your search engine rankings and drive more traffic to your website.

Running a local retail business can be challenging in the era of online shopping. The same goes for local, independent service businesses (including restaurants) that compete against national brands. How do you compete with large companies with national reach? While daunting, you have a weapon in your arsenal that the Amazons of the world don’t have: local appeal. While the ability to order anything and have it shipped in a couple days has strong allure, there are many consumers out there who prefer an in-person shopping experience. Whether it’s because they enjoy interacting with knowledgeable salespeople, want to be able to see and hold a product before purchasing it, need the instant gratification of bringing it home that same day, or simply want to support the local economy (yay!), local businesses are in a great position to engage with these shoppers – but only if they can be found online.

1. Get Listed

Are you listed in any business directories? If not, you might as well not even exist. If your business isn’t present in local directories, your competitors who are listed will reap the benefits when people search for your products or services. Getting your business name in the search results will put you side-by-side with the competition and give you the opportunity to showcase your best qualities. There are dozens of business directories, with Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, and Facebook leading the pack. Listing your business on as many local directories as you can will only continue to boost your exposure, so there is no practical reason not to do so.

Optimize Your Listings - Four Tips to Make Your Local Business Visible on Search Engines2. Optimize Your Listings

A key part of submitting your business to local directories is to optimize the content in your listing. Take your time and make sure the title, description, and keywords are accurate and informative. Make a plan to revisit your listings on a regular basis to update them with new details about your business or to modify your keyword usage. Additionally, many business directories include a comments section. Do not ignore these! By responding to comments, you increase the visibility of your business while providing – and showing that you provide – excellent customer service.

3. Don’t Forget Your Existing Customers

Who better to help you increase your visibility in local listings than your current customers? Consider an in-store campaign with signage promoting your online presence. Ask your customers to visit your listings and leave reviews which, as noted above, will help boost your visibility online. Use social media to encourage reviews as well. Encourage customers to provide their contact information by asking them to sign up to receive special offers available only via email or text. Remember, an existing customer purchases more often and costs less to sell to than a potential customer. Many of your existing customers are already loyal to your business to some degree, and it shouldn’t take much coaxing for them to engage with you online.

Mobile Optimization - Four Tips to Make Your Local Business Visible on Search Engines

4. Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly

Once a potential customer has found your business on a local listing, they’ll most likely want to check out your website to learn more about you. That person could be just down the block, ready to spend some money, but if they visit your website on a mobile device and it isn’t designed for mobile viewing, it can be an instant turn-off. With so many people browsing the web on their phones, it’s incredibly important to make your website mobile-friendly. It should be responsive and clean with fast load times and easy navigation.

Getting found is an important first step, but converting a potential customer to an actual customer takes more than just a well-crafted listing in a local business directory.

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