Marketing Center

Local online marketing: Help customers find your business

Customers now turn to the internet for information on businesses near and far. Learn how to bring local customers to you. 

Published: October 08, 2014
Updated: July 19, 2017

With most Americans now using the internet for local searches instead of the phone book, small businesses now have even more opportunities to connect with their local customer base. By implementing just a few improvements to your online presence, you can ensure that local customers are finding your business easily.

Here are some online marketing tips to help customers find your business, enjoy their online experience, and share their positive reviews.

Improve your online information

Finding your company online should be easy for customers, but many business owners miss out on the chance to make their information clear. The first place people will look for basic information about your company is your website, so make sure everything they need is readily available. This includes your phone number, physical address, email address, and business hours.

Next, make sure that same basic information is consistent across online directories, including Yelp, Google Local, Google My Business, Yahoo Localworks, and the Yellow Pages. In addition, providing customers with maps and directions to your location can not only encourage them to try out your location, but also make it more likely to get a positive review when they do.

Additionally, make sure your listings are free of marketing gimmicks and branding so they will be viewed as factual and relevant.

Make the most of online reviews

More than 90% of online consumers sometimes read online reviews before visiting a business. You may be able to give a boost to your online reviews by asking your most loyal customers to write about your business on various sites. However, be careful as Yelp is working to weed out solicited reviews.

You can also send email questionnaires to customers encouraging them to review your employees, and even use their testimonials on your own site.

As an added benefit, the more online customer reviews about your business, the better your search engine rankings may become. Prominent rankings will send more customers your way when local residents search for a great new restaurant or shop.

Optimize search engine results

While competition to have your business’s website appear at the top of a search results page is stiff, there are steps you can take to help your company’s visibility. For example, there’s the combined impact of Search Marketing, which groups Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) together. By allocating part of your marketing budget to SEM (also known as Paid Search), you can improve the odds that people searching for a business like yours will see it on the first page of results. If you’re not sure where to begin, try Google AdWords, Bing Ads or Yahoo Search Ads. Test out each platform to determine where you get the most bang for your advertising dollar, and feel confident knowing you can optimize your campaigns in real-time based on performance.

Make your online visuals pop

You want your customers to feel comfortable when they enter your location so that they're instantly excited and curious about what you have to offer, a strategy that can ultimately lead to more sales. Your online presence should be no different. Post high-quality photos and videos on your site to create the excitement a customer would feel in person. Professional companies can help by shooting a video for your location that you can use for years. In just a one-day shoot, a professional company can capture the best of your location, accommodating for challenges like low lighting and tight spaces. Entice customers to visit your store by offering a virtual tour via photos and descriptions on your website, Google Places, and Google Maps. Use Google Business View to provide a 360-degree virtual tour with professionally taken photographs. As a local business, you may face constant competition from large franchise operations. By optimizing your virtual presence, you can reach customers and maximize profits. Take a step back and look at your online presence as your customers would see it — you'll be able to highlight potential areas for improvement.