Digital Marketing for Local Businesses Should Start with 3 Big Listing Sites
If your local business doesn’t come up on search engines, especially Google’s, it might as well not exist. While there may still be a few businesses out there that get by on word-of-mouth and long-term clientele, if you want to grow your existing business or start a new business one of your first marketing steps should be digital marketing to start building an online presence.
Today there are hundreds of social media and review sites where your business might be listed, whether you set them up or not. But while owning and managing your listings everywhere on the web might be ideal (and there’s a lot of companies out there offering to give you broader control over this) for most small businesses starting out you should focus on the Big 3. Google, Yelp and Facebook.
Google My Business
Even before you set up your company on Google they may already have begun gathering information about your business. It’s scary, but Google’s army of computers may have already started to publish information about your business in search results. What if the stuff they found is outdated, inaccurate, or incomplete? Well, Google My Business is your tool to take control of what Google knows about your business.
Adding or Claiming your Google My Business page is the first step. You will follow the steps and select a verification option. Often the best, or only, way will be to have Google send a postcard to your business address. You will need to be on the lookout for that card and will need to enter the code when it arrives.
Once you have gained ownership and verified your Google My Business listing you will be able to update tons of information about your business. You can also add photos, post updates and offers that can appear in search results, and much more. Since Google gets about 86% of the market for search engines, it’s a no-brainer to ensure that your information is available and accurate using the tools they have provided to make it easy for you.
While Google My Business is absolutely something you should do, it’s worth mentioning that setting up your business on Google is not a replacement for search engine optimization (SEO). While those searching for your business or businesses like yours may find you, setting up a Google My Business listing won’t help you nearly as much as a professional website and solid SEO strategy will in terms of “being found for the keywords you want to be found for.”
Yelp is to most other consumer review sites as Google is to Bing and Yahoo, at least for food, local businesses, and local services in the United States. That means that if you’re a brick and mortar business, you better be on Yelp and pay attention to what people are saying about you, because your potential customers certainly will. Yelp is one place that you need to focus on for reputation management.
Follow steps to create your Yelp listing. You may find that a Yelp profile already exists if one of your customers added it for you so they could leave a review! Once you’re in control of your Yelp listing you will be able to respond to reviews, update business information, and add photos as the business. You will also have access to paid advertising features to make your business listing more prominent and increase your exposure.
Facebook for Business
Just about everyone above college age is on Facebook these days. Most business owners will understand the importance of putting their business information on Facebook. They are also prepared to engage with customers who might try to reach them through their page with questions or to resolve an issue. Some business owners don’t realize that Facebook provides a separate type of listing for Businesses with added features and information that wouldn’t apply to a personal account.
Make sure that you set up a Facebook Business account, not just a personal page under your business name. Fill in as much information as possible to show your page visitors what your brand is all about, where you’re located, what your hours are, what you’re interested in, what charitable activities your business takes part in, and much more. Until you can create a proper website to keep returning and prospective customers informed about what your business has to offer, how to get in touch, and find answers to their questions, a Facebook business page can fill some of those roles. Facebook for business is a great, free way to build an audience and share what makes your business special on the most used social networking site in the world. Don’t forget you can also advertise on Facebook to help build your following as you get started. (Advertising on Facebook is surprisingly affordable.)
A Complete Digital Marketing Strategy for Local Bay Area Businesses
The “Big 3” that we discuss above are only a piece of the pie, albeit a hearty slice. Managing your website, online reputation, listings, ads, social media, reviews, SEO and tracking performance could be a full time job. Most small businesses aren’t prepared to spend what it would take to hire an employee with the knowledge and ability to manage it all. We offer an All N1 Digital Marketing plan to help. Businesses on this plan know that their digital marketing strategy and execution is covered. We provide monthly reports so you can see what we’re doing for you, and we contact you if something comes up that demands your business knowledge or input. Let us take one big job off your plate! We can do it better, for less than it would cost to hire someone in-house. Let’s get started with the plan that makes managing your business easier: Call 510-276-9904 or contact us today.