There are four areas that local small business owners need to focus on in order to assure they are receiving their fair share of business.
Top four tips for increasing local sales:
- Communicating your geographic information with your website
- Promote your website locally
- Build a fast loading and easy to use mobile presence
- Communicating geographic information
How Local Search Works
Local-based store retailers compete for business within their immediate geographic area. When a consumer searches Google for products using your town name, Google recognizes that the consumer is looking for the product locally and delivers search results specific to their city, town or region.
Sometimes a consumer doesn’t have to specify a town, it happens automatically with many service type businesses. A consumer who searches for businesses using search terms like personal injury attorney or pizza restaurant will be directed to a search page that automatically displays those services offered locally to them.
But this doesn’t happen automatically for all local-based retailers. Local retailers must help themselves by following the four tips for increasing local sales. Google does its best to provide the most accurate results. But it is difficult to do if a website doesn’t communicate their geographic information.
Common Local Business Mistakes
- Omitting important location information such as address and phone number.
- Hiding that information by using images instead of text to communicate it.
- Common to restaurants: Display menu in a PDF. A royal pain for mobile phone users.
- Images that are too large
- Non-mobile friendly
- Making it difficult to find important information or popular products
- Music and animation do not help
There are other steps such as including information called, Structured Data. But most local retailers can get along without integrating this information.
How to Promote a Local Business
The second step to take is promotion. This assures that the business not only appears in Google but that they appear in a prominent position in Google.
Determining if your site needs promotion is as simple as searching on Google the way a potential customer would. Do you offer dog grooming services? Search for dog grooming [+ name of your town]. If your site does not appear then your business is losing sales to your competitors who are already ranking.
This isn’t heavy lifting or time intensive. It’s not a lot of work. It’s a matter of knowing the steps to take and this is where many businesses fall short. The activity can be as simple as getting listed online in place like a local chamber of commerce. A local site that lists local businesses is an ideal place for a local store listing.
Mobile Website for Ranking
Mobile devices account for approximately 50 – 60% of local related search queries. Google is giving preference to sites that are mobile optimized. Those are two good reasons to have a high quality web presence. Failure to do so means that you might lose up to half of all possible customers and associated sales.
This isn’t theory, it is real. If you are noticing a downtick in business and your site is poorly optimized for mobile or you have done little to promote your business online, it’s quite possible this is the reason why. Times have changed. When people let their fingers do the walking it’s usually across a mobile phone, not on yellow colored pages.
Thus, the third area of focus for online success as a local retailer is to create a strong mobile presence. Speed and ease of use are of the essence.
Is your site mobile friendly? Google offers an easy way to determine if your site complies with mobile standards:
Example of a Business that Improved
Here’s a real-life example. A local businessman in Amherst, MA, approached me because of years of slowly dwindling business. He had served his community for almost thirty years. He was considering letting go of employees.
The source of his problems were two-fold. His outdated online presence was keeping customers away. And his online competition were on the ball. Business wasn’t drying up. His competition was walking away with it.
What I did for him was create a better online presence that communicated the information Google required. The website also delivered the information site visitors needed.
The website wasn’t as snazzy as his competition. But it was faster, a pleasure to read on a mobile device and I made it easy for site visitors to call to make an appointment. His business came roaring back. The impact from applying the three principles was dramatic. Business is the best it’s ever been.
How to Sell Better Locally
A website is not an online business card. A website is a tool that helps customers do things. That could be locating a top quality hair stylist or finding a local retailer that stocks a specific brand. A website for a local service or brick and mortar retail site exists for the following reasons:
- To serve the customer
- To make it easy for them to find you
- To make it easy for customers to contact you
- To build customer loyalty by offering incentives for returning, such as a newsletter-only coupons.
A web presence that works across a range of devices is a dynamic tool for helping customers solve problems. By orienting your site toward helping customers solve problems you are helping your business increase sales. I have nearly twenty years experience helping businesses improve their sales:
- Moving companies
- Auto body repair
- Car part sales
- Auto accessories retailers
- Hair salons
- personal injury attorney
- maid service businesses
- and many more.
I help businesses make money online
Contact me to discuss how I can help you.