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Marketing / Online marketing

Online marketing tips for local businesses

Often I hear “my web site doesn’t work because I only service local clients”. Here are online marketing tips for soloists to effectively market their local business on the Internet.

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The trend to use the Internet as a source of information and to find suppliers is increasing rapidly, especially for the younger generation of consumers and business people who are net savvy. 86% of Internet users who search for local products or services go on to complete the transaction offline.

What if you’re a plumber, dentist or hairdresser and really only service customers within a 30 km radius of your home or business premises? What if you sell fishing tackle at a small beach side town or pool chemicals at a suburban shopping strip? Perhaps you sew or hand make goods to sell at local markets or run a small café or coffee shop in your area.

More and more Internet searches are for terms such as “pizza delivery in Melbourne” or “lawn mowing in Manly”. As a local business you don’t need a large or expensive web site to be effective – just keep it simple. If you are not competing nationally, just present yourself well to your local target market such as local residents and those within driving distance.

"The trend to use the Internet as a source of information and to find suppliers is increasing rapidly, especially for the younger generation of consumers and business people who are net savvy."

Here are some online marketing tips for making your web site effective for a local audience:

1. Include your physical contact details on every page

This seems obvious but not all small local businesses do it. Include your physical address and your local phone number with area code. This helps visitors and search engines look for this level of detail to connect you with your location in the search results. If you don’t have a physical address, get a mailbox at your local post office and list this address on your site.

2. Give more details about your physical location on your Contact Us page

Include your street address, city, state, postcode and local phone at the top of the page where search engines can find it quickly. Also provide directions that include as many location descriptors as you can – this helps both visitors and search engines.

For example:

Nancy’s Skincare Centre is located in the Diamond Valley area close to Greensborough Plaza. The Greensborough train station and Main street bus stop is very handy if travelling on public transport. Our address is Shop 1, 86 Grimshaw Street, Greensborough, VIC, 3088.

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3. Link to a Google Map on your Contact Us page

This is one of the easiest ways of showing your business location via a map and the service is free. Simply visit Google Maps and click on ‘Put your business on Google Maps’.

Adding a Google Map also helps your website be listed in search results for your suburb. For example: if you type “web design Balwyn” into Google Australia you will see that Melissa Norfolk Web Design appears at the top of the page and our location is shown on a Google Map. Be sure to include your location in your link text. For example: instead of saying “click here for a map” you could say “Map of our Northcote premises”

4. Include your location in your Page Titles

Page titles are one of the most important things search engines use to understand what you page is about and index it in the search results. So including your location acts as another sign post for visitors and search engines to tell them where you are located.

5. Include a list of all the suburbs you service

If your local business is located in Northcote, but you also service 10 other neighbouring suburbs, list these on a suitable place on your web site. This might be your Home page, About page or Contact Us page. You can also include these suburbs in your meta tags for those search engines that still use this information.

6. Build local links

Exchange links with other local business that are in your local area but not in competition to you.

7. Submit to local online directories and yellow pages

This might include your local council website; local business directories and online directories such as Sensis, Yellow Pages, True Local, White Pages and AussieWeb.

8. Local pay per click keywords

If you use Google pay per click advertising such as Google AdWords include location specific keywords and narrow where your ad is displayed so you do not waste your online marketing spend displaying your ad to those outside your service area.

Melissa Norfolk

is an Internet expert who speaks to business, school and community groups about online marketing, email newsletters, effective use of the Internet, finding what you need online and Internet safety.

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