The reign of the phone book is long over – when people search for your business today, they do it online.
As a local business owner, you know a website is a necessity.
While social media marketing can be a powerful tool for building awareness, and old-fashioned advertising still has its place, you need a space that you control as your headquarters on the web.
But is your local business website getting the job done?
If it’s missing one of the key ingredients below, you could be missing out on a lot of potential business.
Your website doesn’t have to have tons of content, advanced programming, or a complicated setup… but it does need the right ingredients in order to be effective.
#1 A Mobile-Friendly Design
How many of your customers are finding you using mobile devices? Of course it will differ depending on the business, but you might be surprised to know that mobile traffic has overtaken desktop traffic since 2014.
Being mobile-friendly is even more important for local business. According to a study by Google, 88% of people who conduct local searches do so using a smartphone.
Note that there’s a difference between “mobile-responsive” and “mobile-friendly.” It’s possible to have a web design that’s mobile-responsive, while still having other elements of your site that make it difficult to navigate from a mobile device.
A truly mobile-friendly site will:
- Use a responsive web design (If you’re using WordPress, check out our article on 4 Ways to Improve the Mobile Version of Your WordPress Theme for tips.)
- Load quickly on any device
- Use a large, easily readable font
- NOT use pop-ups, floating share buttons, etc. that make it impossible to read or navigate your site
- Devote most of the limited screen space to useful content
#2 The Right Information
Your local business website doesn’t have to be complicated or have tons of content. In fact, when it comes to local business websites, it’s often better to have a very basic website.
But deciding exactly what information is crucial to include and what information is superfluous can be a challenge.
You need to make sure your website has exactly the information your customers are looking for, which means finding out exactly why people visit your website.
According to Google’s study, people who search for local businesses are most often looking for your hours of operation, directions, or product availability.
But, since your business and your audience is unique, you may want to consider doing a survey of your website visitors or existing customers to find out what information they’re looking for on your website.
#3 Local SEO
It’s not enough to have a nice-looking, mobile-friendly website that’s easy to use, if your potential customers can’t find it!
You need to make sure that your website can be easily found by people in your area who are searching for the services or products you provide.
That means not just SEO – but local SEO, which is a different ballgame.
Regular SEO doesn’t take into account the searcher’s location. For example, if someone is searching Google for “roasted eggplant recipes,” the results Google serves up won’t be ranked according to how close the website owner is in relation to the searcher, but by relevance to the topic.
On the other hand, if someone searches Google for “car repair,” Google will give preference to local business websites: businesses in the same city as the searcher will be ranked higher than businesses that are located hours away.
Optimizing for local search includes a few strategies and tactics that aren’t generally included in regular SEO, including:
- Schema markup
- Google+ local page setup
- Citations & directory listings, such as Yelp, Local.com, Foursquare, Zomato, and TripAdvisor
That first factor, schema markup, is the primary way search engines can tell where your business is located, as well as other data including your hours of operation, phone number, etc.
When I search incognito for “car repair in los angeles,” Google can tell me this business’s address, phone number, and hours of operation. That’s because the website includes rich schema markup.
SEO can be tricky to navigate if you don’t dedicate a lot of time to keeping up with all the latest developments. A good local SEO plugin, like Yoast Local SEO plugin, can do a lot of the on-page optimization for you, including schema markup, which is a basic ingredient for a successful local business website.
#4 Map and Contact Info
Many of your customers will be visiting your site in order to get directions to your business, or contact you with questions, and the perfect local business website will make it as easy as possible for them.
One way to do so is with a dedicated “Directions” page with an embedded Google map, and including detailed instructions on how to locate your business, such as nearby landmarks.
You should also make it as easy as possible for visitors to contact you with questions. Include a phone number with a link, so that visitors on their smartphones can call you at a click.
The HTML code for a phone number link looks like this:
You should also include an email address and a contact form, so visitors can use the method they’re most comfortable with.
#5 A Way to Stay in Touch
Many of your visitors may intend to visit your store sometime, but forget about it as soon as they leave your website.
That’s why it’s important to keep in touch with them!
Asking visitors to subscribe to your email newsletter is the best option, because you have direct access to their inbox and control over exactly what you send them and how often.
In order to convince people to sign up for your newsletter, you can offer them a deal, coupon, discount, or some kind of freebie for subscribers.
Social media is also a good way to keep in touch with visitors, though it can be limiting since you have to play by their rules, and your access is more limited.
The perfect local business website has an email newsletter with opt-in forms in prominent locations, such as after every post and on your “About” page. You can even A/B test conversion rates to find out what kinds of forms and locations work best for your audience.
How Does Your Local Business Website Measure Up?
Does your local business website have all the necessary ingredients? Do your customers find what they’re looking for when they search for you? Use these tips and you’ll benefit from local SEO.