5 Easy Ways to Increase Local Business’s Online Presence by @MarleeWard

Local_SEO

by Marlee Ward | Featured Contributor

If you have a local business online marketing tools should be your best friend. Truth be told, most local business owners completely overlook the power of online marketing for their business. As a result, there has never been a better time to leverage the power of local search engine ranking. If you apply even two of these five easy methods for improving your local online presence, you’ll surely outrank your local competition.

1. Use Get Listed to Get Found in Local Search

Circa 2009 submitting your website url to link directories was all the rage. Oftentimes, directory websites ranked well in Google. Being listed in a directory was an easy way to get drive by traffic and a backlink. But people abused this luxury, so Google changed the game.

Nowadays, it’s much harder to leverage the power of directory websites, but you can still rock your local directory listings by submitting your website to top quality sites that Google likes. One way to do this is by using a free service provided by http://getlisted.org.

GetListed.org shows you how your business is indexed in local search engines like Google, Yelp, Bing, Yahoo, YP.com, and many others. Then, it gives you insight on how to leverage those sites to improve your rank in those search engines and it submits your business info for you!

Get Listed is the real deal, and they were just acquired by SEOMoz (a leading SEO company), which lends them major credibility. If you own a local business, after you read this post, head over to Get Listed and get started now!

2. Connect with your Target Market using Meetup.com

Meetup.com is a site where anyone can launch a group about anything, and meet up locally to connect.  Meetup is free to join, but you have to pay to host your own group on the site. The beauty of meetup.com is that it already has lists of groups gathered together by affinity. So, if you know your target market as well as you should, it can be one of the easiest ways to find prospects to network with.

Beyond networking, you can use meetup.com to improve your online presence by offering “perks” in the form of samples or freebies to group leaders who can in turn offer these to their members. You could also “sponsor” a meetup group by paying their annual meetup dues in exchange for a link and blurb about your business on their meetup page.

And, if you have the time, you can start your own meetup group. This is one of the easiest and best ways to grow a highly targeted email list. Do keep in mind that meetup is about connecting, not selling, so if you plan to start a meetup group to sell to people you’re wasting your time. On the other hand, if you can find a way to add value to the group, and become a resource to them, the visibility you get for your business is just an added bonus.

3. List Your Services on Craigslist

Craigslist receives over 50 billion page views per month and has more than 60 million users per month in the US alone. It’s is like a giant, ultra-busy village market with lots of eager buyers where you can advertise for free.

You can promote virtually anything on craigslist, from tutoring to your e-commerce site, but doing so successfully requires strategy, wisdom, and persistence.

First, you need to identify your target market and their specific location. Using this information you are going to want to create highly targeted ads that speak to your most ideal prospect. If you offer your products and services in multiple cities, you will need to tailor each ad to each city. Craigslist frowns upon spamming the site, and users can easily spot a duplicate ad, so take the time to customize each one.

Also, beware of fraud. Depending on your business craigslist may turn out to be a great resource for new leads, but always engage prospects with caution. Because of the anonymous nature of Craigslist, scammers are attracted to the platform. Always sell your products and services using best business practices, and don’t do anything you wouldn’t normally do in a transaction.

Lastly, with so many users and ads being posted to craigslist on a daily basis, you have to post often and regularly to make the most out of this strategy. Craigslist is not a set it and forget platform. You have to work the platform to make it work for you.

4. Get Local Using YouTube

Youtube is the second most popular search engine after Google. With over 800 million visitors per month and 25% of those views coming from mobile devices, having a YouTube presence can be a great opportunity for gaining visibility as a local business.

Here are a few tips to get the most out of marketing on YouTube locally:
1.    Localize your video title by including local keyword search terms.
2.    Include a link back to your website in your video description, and be sure to include your local keywords in the description as well.
3.    Select tags that match your local search terms.
4.    Geotag your video by indicating the exact location of where your video was taken (just click the “Date and Map Options”)
5.    Upload your video to directory listings like Yelp, Google Places, and others.

5. Use Google Pay-Per-Click Ads

Local SEO (search engine optimization) is essential for your local business, but as more business owner’s try to capture “free” organic rankings in Google, the more difficult it is to get found organically.

Enter Google PPC advertising.

I love Google PPC advertising for local business because it makes driving highly targeted prospects to your website easy, effective and very, very, very affordable.

But there is one caveat; you must work with someone who knows how to setup Google ads. This can be the hardest part of all. There are a lot of “experts” out there that can lead you astray.

To help you avoid making any missteps, I highly recommend you download this free ebook by Hubspot: An Introductory Guide to PPC. Inside you’ll find everything you need to know to attempt PPC advertising yourself, and more importantly, to be able to competently hire a true professional to help you.

Because so many local small businesses are asleep at the wheel when it comes to online marketing there are huge opportunities in the local online market for savvy business owners like you. So don’t delay. Get to work applying some of these tips today, and be sure to come back and let us know how it goes!

Photo credit: Elvert Barnes

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03142012 Marlee fuji 400H-3_nacweMarlee Ward empowers solo entrepreneurs make more money and serve more people by teaching them how to leverage high-level marketing principles, online tools, multiple income streams, and a success mindset, through personalized coaching programs, online training workshops, and live training seminars.

After practicing law for nearly five years, Marlee left her career as a lawyer to pursue her passion – seeing individuals succeed as entrepreneurs.

With over 10 years experience in marketing, public relations, and new media technologies, Marlee speaks to a variety of industry specific small business in the US.

She’s served as Business Editor of the popular woman’s blog BizChickBlog.com, co-authored Engagement from Scratch! How super-community builders create a loyal audience, and how you can do the same, and was voted “Top 40 under 40” by a Central Florida Magazine

To receive your FREE weekly marketing and mindset training, plus a free copy of the mp3 training audio “6 Ways to Increase Your Income”, visit http://marleeward.com.

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7 Replies to “5 Easy Ways to Increase Local Business’s Online Presence by @MarleeWard”

  1. Tom Samual

    Been really thinking about using YouTube to start to market my local carpet cleaning business. I long ignored the need to have an online presence with my simple carpet cleaning business. I figured all that online stuff was for huge businesses and all those technical savvy people out there. Boy was I wrong! Competition in my town sure gets a lot of work from their online presence and I need to jump on board quick!

  2. Abhishek

    I agree with what you mention in this article, apart reaching out to your customers, one should also make it easier for customers to find you and also find out what other people are saying about you. This is why it’s strongly advisable to increase your online presence as much as possible. One website I strongly suggest for business services is TheWorkster.com. It’s a completely free website which allows you to post your business services along with description, photos, contact details and other details. You can check out a sample posting here: http://theworkster.com/services/php/psd-to-wordpress-development/

  3. 25 Ways to Marketing Your Business for Free by Marlee Ward | She Owns It

    […] Register your company with all free online directory sites. Use a service like Get Listed  to do it in one fell swoop.  Get listed is a free online service […]

  4. Mike Kawula

    Great post and definitely many opportunities for business owners to make themselves found easier online.

    I’d add building your places page, posting pictures and adding offers to connect. Lastly local should definitely be encouraging customers to check-in via Facebook.

    Like the Craigslist idea.

    1. Marlee

      Thanks for your input, Mike. Great additions.

  5. Marlee

    Thanks for the addition to the list, Michael. I think that goes hand in hand with number 4 – use Youtube.

  6. Michael

    Hi Marlee,

    Great tips. I want to throw out another for the power of video. For just a couple of thousand dollars, you can have a professional video about your business. It’s one of the best marketing assets for a small business – and an amazing viral tool.

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