In small business, the emphasis on the local community is equally important. Most entrepreneurs reading this post are small-business owners who serve a local or regional community base.
Readers will recognize that each member of our senior management team each has a deep passion for helping small businesses grow. And, at the risk of being overly repetitious, there are only three ways to grow a business:
a) get more profits from existing sales;
b) get more sales from existing customers; and
c) get more customers.
Excel in any one of these three basic paths, and your business will grow – excel in two or all three of these and you’ll experience exponential growth.
However, we tend to dwell on the last path – attracting more customers – because a strong customer base is essential to the first two tenets. And, attracting more customers is something that is easy to say, but the complexities are enormous.
In the next couple of posts, I want to address one of the key components in new customer acquisition – lead generation for small business serving a local or regional community. Specifically, I want to share with you several tips to help your prospective customers find you on the Web in their use of search engines.
Include your business name and address on each Web page
The first tip seems to me to be obvious, but when clients ask me to review their Web sites, more than 50 percent fail on this. Put your business name, address, phone number, and business hours on each page in a manner that search engines will be able to access the information. That means that the information needs to be in text format and not embedded in video or in flash objects. Because visitors may find their way to your site landing on several different pages, it is important that you take the time to place your location wherever a visitor may land on your site.
It will also be useful to create a specific Web page (often the About Us page) where you can not only indicate the specific street address and city/state information, but you can also make reference to neighborhoods or to regional geographical labels that local residents would consider.
For example, our offices are located in Solana Beach, but references to San Diego and “North County” would also be appropriate. Similarly, if you are restaurant owner in Chicago across from Wrigley Field, your Web site should not only refer to Chicago, Chicago-land, the Chicago north-side, Wrigley-Ville, and even refer to the ball park itself.
These references should be made in the body of the text talking about your business. A simple statement that includes the major keywords you believe would be important along with references to your location can make all the difference in helping your prospects find out about you in a search.
Brainstorm the keywords your visitors might use to find you
Since I mentioned keywords, I want to take a little time here to start your thinking about keywords. We’re going to spend some time in future posts talking about keywords, but because this is always an important subject; I want to address this now.
As mentioned above, you’ll want to write a paragraph that includes several keywords about your business that also includes geographical references. Many search engines, predominantly Google, rely on text information for their search information. As a result, it is critical that you think about all of the ways that a visitor would think about your business. This seems so simple. But as you’ll see, it is actually a bit of work. The key is for you to try to think about your business objectively.
Think about the major descriptions that could identify your business. You’ll find that you can come up with a handful easily. Then write several sentences that describe your business and use these keywords in the description. Make sure that the description includes your geographical information as mentioned above.
Keep the list of keywords you came up with and share it with friends to begin to expand this list further. We’ll be referring to an expanded keyword listing as we talk further about ways that you can use keywords to expand your marketing efforts.
Give your visitors a map and directions
And once you have a visitor on your site, provide them with a map and driving directions. Although many of us know to use Map Quest or Google Maps, when trying to find a location, you shouldn’t rely on these tools to get your prospects to your door. While on vacation a couple of weeks ago, I was heading to a bookstore that someone told me about, and the store’s Web site did not have a map, so I used Google Maps. Unfortunately, not being totally familiar with the area, I didn’t realize that Google Maps took me to a location that wasn’t remotely close to the actual location of this store.
I recommend that you get make a simple drawing of your business location and scan that drawing to get it on your Web site. And, provide directions from several prominent landmarks to make sure that anyone will be able to find you. Put yourself in the place of a first-time visitor to the area, and write clear, concise directions. Your prospective customers will appreciate your clarity.
While the search engine algorithms change daily, and each search engine has different rules regarding what they take into account to rank a Web page, it is good to keep some general practice in your site design. These tags are not the “golden solution” to search engine placement, but they can be useful as to how your Web page is described by some search engines, and that can be important to motivate the searcher to click on your listing.
Make sure you create a Page Title that reflects what your site is all about, and if you’re interested in bringing people to your location, include that location in the page title. Limit the title to five to eight words. The title will be found in the HTML code between the TITLE tags. An example might be: “Heavenly Muffins for Breakfast from MuffinMania, Omaha, Nebraska.”
The Title Tag is a very important component used in many search engines for ranking, and the Title Tag is also used by many search engines as the description of the page
Meta Description Tag
In your HTML you can create a meta description tag of 200 to 250 characters. While Google doesn’t use a meta description tag, other search engines use this for their description of your Web page when it is listed. And having a clear description on a search return can encourage the searcher to click on your site if it rings a bell for them.
So write one to two sentences that provides a description of your business and includes as many keywords as possible. An example: “MuffinMania has the best muffins for breakfast or dinner in Omaha, Nebraska. Our blueberry, cranberry or chocolate chip varieties are divine. And for savory treats, you’ll find our corn and herb muffin tops; and don’t forget our biscuits and rolls.”
Meta Keywords Tag
At one time search crawlers used the mete keywords tags to index a site, although it has lost some of its importance over time. But there are still a number of crawlers that include the use of the meta keywords tags in their indexing process. I want to repeat that the use of this tag is not as important today as it had been, so concentrating on it isn’t as important as it once was, but for the very few search engines that refer to this, it is important to understand how to create these. Make sure that your meta keywords are reflected in your Web content, and don’t repeat a word over and over. Repeating won’t help, and could hurt your placement in some cases.
When you remove extraneous words from your description meta-tag you’ll begin to identify some pure keywords that will be important to expand upon later: “MuffinMania, muffins, breakfast, dinner, Omaha, Nebraska, blueberry, cranberry, chocolate chip, savory, treats, corn, herb biscuits, rolls” Obviously, you’ll also be able to identify other words that make sense to add to this list.
In subsequent postings I’ll address some other useful tips for getting noticed in search engines, particularly for those searchers looking for local businesses. Remember, there is some real loyalty that is applied to local businesses. Take advantage of this whenever appropriate.
This article is written by OneCoach Team