In all respect, there hasn’t been a better “doorstop” in recent years than that big thick Yellow Pages phone directory that’s still being delivered to your home or office.
Yes, they still do publish them, and they’re becoming a cause of concern from all of the local environmental groups, as well as the tree huggers from around the nation. What usually happens to these directories is that they’re promptly placed directly into the recycling bin.
When people are now searching for something, whether it be information, directions, or the best store, for places or items such as a restaurant or a garden hose, the last place where they think of looking is the Yellow Pages.
The majority, based on a recent survey, revealed that over 63% percent now get their local business information, not surprisingly, by searching on the Internet. This rather than any other information source such as, newspapers, magazines, television or radio, word of mouth, or the phone book.
So, if you haven’t done so already, and if you operate a local business or service, it’s only beneficial for your economic welfare that you begin optimizing your business to be found online to generate leads, traffic, and additional revenue.
Building A Better Business Website
Having a website is the most obvious first step, right? Getting a domain name based on your company name, product or service, and then developing a website. By doing so, if you build it, then they should flock in droves to your store.
The surprising part is, this according to recent statistics, there’s only approximately 54% percent of all small businesses who currently own a domain name and a website for their business.
Then there are those business owners who claim they don’t need a site since they have a pimped out thriving Facebook page, which has generated a ton of “likes,” along with great customer interaction, and it’s also free to do.
Any of these social media platforms, however, should be consider as an “also.” Also meaning, oh and we “also” have a Facebook Page, or a Twitter account, and they shouldn’t be considered as an “instead of” a website.
The reason for this is because you don’t want to build your virtual foundation based on a platform that you don’t own, or you can’t control.
A Site Of Your Own
So if you own a domain name which identifies your business, and use the WordPress platform, these are the recommended steps in building a successful online presence for your offline business.
These WordPress sites are now extremely easy to set up, customizable, and you’d be surprised how much you can customize your site to make it not look like a blog.
By using WordPress as your CMS, you can also easily integration a variety of social and SEO widgets and plugins to maximize the optimization of your site. This to make it as search engine and social media friendly as possible. Your site will then feel inherently alive and active with direct customer interaction and engagement.
Keyword Research For Attracting Local Traffic
There’s an entire library based on the numerous ways and methods on how you can increase the likelihood that your site will be found on the Internet, specifically Google. Search engine optimization has grown to be one of the largest industries on the Internet.
So at a minimum, on your WordPress driven site which offers your business product or service, you should at the very least have your contact information, such as your physical address, a map, and your phone number visibly listed.
Also include geographically specific keywords in your content by using various combinations of the same keyword terms. For instance, a Pasta Restaurant in Vancouver, B.C., could include phrases such as “Vancouver Pasta Restaurant” or “greater Vancouver fine Italian dining” or “the best pizza in Vancouver” etc.
Make sure that you also place all of the vital keywords, including your location, directly in the page title of the website, as well as on the header tags, and, if appropriate, incorporate them in the content of the page. Also make sure that the site is mobile friendly as well.
Use online research tools such as what’s provided by Google AdWords, to research which keywords or phrases that your potential customers would use when they’re searching for your product or service.
Converting Online Visitors Into Customers
Make sure that you use a “contact us” or an opt-in form, which is recommended, because they’re excellent ways of converting the online “looky-loos,” into potentially new customers or clients.
The best way to convert these visitors is by offering, for example, a free downloadable ebook, a how-to kit, a guide, or a white paper, in exchange for their name and email address, with the intent of you being a valuable resource to them.
Your aim should be to become a trusted adviser and authority in your industry, who can potentially help these visitors get closer to making a buying decision.
Claiming And Creating Your Local Online Profile
Make sure that you “claim” your various online profiles on the search engines as well as the local online business directories, as they’re free yet necessary to do.
This includes Google Places, Yelp, as well as the online version of the Yellow Pages, among others. There are excellent lists of online directories where you can claim your business by doing a search on Google.
If you don’t bother claiming your profile, you’ll then be invisible on the search engines, or you risk allowing others, perhaps your competition, to publish faulty erroneous information about your business.
There are numerous accounts of say a fine reputable French Bistro, who has, for instance, been mistakenly listed by Google, Bing, and Yelp as something completely different from who they are, such as a grocery store. So don’t allow this to happen to you.
What these search engines are also looking for is consistency. So make sure that your business’s name, your website, your address, your contact and phone number, are all listed exactly the same across the Web.
Encouraging Feedback And Reviews
Getting valid unbiased customer feedback, reviews, and testimonials are excellent ways of enhancing your search rankings while increasing click through and conversion rates for your local offline business.
And since every business isn’t perfect, positive favorable reviews mixed in with a few mildly negative ones, are expected, and they will go a long way in validating your business on the search engines, as well as the general public who’s reading them.