Newsletter No 7 - September 2012

Welcome to my email newsletter on the topic of Making Your Website Work for You.

According to Google 97% of consumers search for local businesses online. This may be a bit of a stretch – but think how you make your choices for buying products and services. You’ll probably ask your friends and neighbours for their experiences and maybe recall local ads or sponsorship and then you’ll look on Google or Bing to see what comes up under something like “furniture repairs in Ashby” or “employment lawyer in Salford”. Especially for a service - like a builder, accountant, therapist, physio - you’re likely to want to buy local because it’s personal. You want to meet the person or company involved and see if you feel comfortable and can trust them.

People appreciate dealing with a local company, even for buying products. From your point of view local business is an easier sell and costs less to advertise and visit your prospects who will eventually be your clients.

So this month’s newsletter is about:

Using your website to generate local business

There’s all kinds of ways of generating local business and how you go about it depends on what kind of business you run, if you have a shop or office or work from home, and how much of a local social person you are. But here are some ideas to use your website to get local business.

  1. Make sure your website content mentions your location specifically and several times.
    1. Search engines use the text content of your website to respond to search queries so include your address and postcode on every page as well as a “Contacts” page. If you don’t want to use your exact address at least use the town or county.
    2. You could also try a “strap line” below your company name like “Solicitors serving Nottingham, Derby and the East Midlands”, “Psychotherapy service based in Milton Keynes”.
    3. Include your location in your “About us” page. If you are national you can still say “Based in……but serving clients throughout the UK”. If you have case studies on your website you can include where your client is located.
       
  2. Get listed in on-line local directories
    There are hundreds of directories on the web offering free or paid-for entries for businesses. Some are focussed on particular services e.g. building servics or healthcare, others are all-encompassing directories offering listings by location and by business category.
    The best-known of these are Yell and Thomson Local. You will have a free listing there if you are listed in their paper directory. Another well-known directory is Touch Local. All these offer an entry free-of charge with various extras. Generally you have to pay for a link to your website but you can get quite a bit of information on the directories without paying.
    For example Touch Local www.touchlocal.com is run by Scoot and drives other directories like The Independent and Ask Jeeves so if local business and client reviews are important to you this is worth spending a bit of time on. You can have a free listing which offers quite a lot – description, email, phone, images, special offers and user reviews. As well as listing by geographic location you can choose one category and also 3 tags which you can use to more closely describe what you do.  With the free listing you don’t get a link to your website but there’s nothing to prevent you from including your web url in the text of your description or special offers. Upgrading to a paid account offers a clickable website link and lots more categories and tags. Take a look at what driving instructor Keith at KDF Driving has done www.touchlocal.com/business/list/bid/2093046.. Keith has a link on his one-page website back to the reviews on the Touch Local page.
    These commercial directories spend a lot of money in promotion and getting to the top of search results. Even if you don’t have a link to your website you will get visibility of your business name and phone number which may be enough to get that local call.
    You could also try websites run by parish councils, newspapers and business groups. You may be able to get a free or very low-fee listing or small ad and maybe an opportunity to publish an article about your business (including your website url of course!)
     
  3. Make use of your trade or professional body website
    Most professional organisations have a website with a “Find a ……..” service to promote their members’ business. Make sure your listing is up to date and includes as much information as they allow including your website. Your organisation will have a great deal of clout with the search engines plus prospective clients will be more likely to trust a member of a professional organisation.
     
  4. Use Google Places – now renamed Google + Local
    There’s been a useful tool around for a while called Google Places where you can connect your business with Google maps. Your business will appear on Google maps and on some local searches. This has now been replaced with Google’s + Local system which is much more sophisticated and allows reviews, news, circles of friends or followers, likes…. similar to Facebook. Like Facebook you have to set up a personal account first and then you can set up your Google + page for your business. Take a look at http://support.google.com/plus/bin/answer.py?hl=en-GB&answer=2531255. Google is increasingly focussing on local search and if it can identify where the searcher is located it will try to present local websites first. Obviously this is going to get more important as mobile devices become the prime access to the web.
    Like with all social media your aim should be to get people to click onto a link to your website or contact you directly with an enquiry, not just to get more people reading your news. Keep that in mind all the time when creating the Google + page and adding posts.
     
  5. Don’t forget off-line, conventional, advertising and promotion
    • Local press & media websites, radio advertising
    • Shop window, car stickers, signs
    • Press releases, sponsorship
    • Business networking
    • Use your website url on all your local advertising. It can be cheaper than national advertising and you can keep costs low by keeping your message succinct and linking to your website, Facebook page and blog. (see Save money with your website)

GA local stats 350Google Analytics reports show where visitors are located and also what keywords and phrases they are entering to get to your website. If you are a local business but have no searches including your locality or local visitors you may be missing out so it’s worth taking stock and taking some of the actions above.  National organisations with head offices in London may find a disproportionate number of visitors are from the capital. They may need to consider a plan to improve visibility in the regions.

You can also use Google Analytics reports to check how well your entries in local directories are working. If you’re not getting many referrals try modifying your entry or categories or if it’s a paid listing don’t renew next year.

 

 

If you want some help with using your website to generate local business please email or call me.  If you live in the East Midlands, there are some good, subsidised courses, workshops and breakfast briefings on search engine optimisation and using Google Analytics from www.ebusinessclub.biz.

Best wishes and make your website work for you!

Sandra Dillon

If you found this useful and would like me to include any specific topic in a future newsletter please let me know sandra@realcom.co.uk.

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If you are considering a website for your business or organisation or would like professional help with an existing project please email me at sandra@realcom.co.uk or call on 01530 440000

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