Being in the industry I am, I talk with a lot of local business owners almost everyday about marketing (they are sniffing around for free tips, but I don’t mind sharing). In this economy, I have found the conversation sliding a little more to cost effective marketing tactics, if not completely free marketing suggestions. Hopefully I can help a lot of small local business owners with this post with some real suggestions that will help them get real results.
Here is the main question I get asked:
“What can a small local business do for marketing online if they have no budget?”
Believe it or not, there is plenty a small local business owner can do for online marketing that costs very little, or is completely free. I want to share these local marketing options with you.
1. Google Local – One of the first things I do for any clients local marketing campagin, is to make sure and get the business listed on Google Local ASAP. This almost gurantees a first page ranking for your most targeted local keyword. For example, if you lived in Lindon Utah, and were looking for a preschool, you would probably more then likely type in “Lindon Utah Preschool” – when you get the results from Google you will see how there is a big list of local options to choose from. (see picture)
It gives you a list of results that are in, or close to Lindon Utah, as well as a map that if you click on will give you exact driving directions and more business information. So it gives you the option to check out all the local spots near you. It is very simple to add your business to Google Local, and the approval process does not take that long – all that FREE and an instant ranking!. If you are a local businesses that does not have a website, you can still get a Google Local listing and get customers from it because you have your address, as well as your phone number listed.
In many cases getting a Google Local listing can help you get multiple listings for your local keywords. If you look at the example picture above – My Smart World, has a #1 local listing, as well as a #1 natural ranking. This just makes you look that more credible in the eyes of potential customers.
Reviews about your business on Google Local can also be written, and the more reviews you have written about your business, the better it is for you (as long as those reviews are positive). You can have people you know that have used the products and services, go in and write the reviews for you. Tell them to be honest as you never want to fake any of these kind of reviews. The number of reviews does not help where your local ad is placed, it just helps out your credibility.
Most people don’t realize how easy it is to get a listing through Google Local, or that it even exists. They just see the results, every once in a while on a search, and often wonder; “How do they get those results there?” To sign up its easy, just go to http://local.google.com and click on where it says; “put your business on Google Maps” (see picture below)
Once you get this far, you will be required to log into your Google accounts and they will walk you through the rest. From my experience it usually only takes 2 – 3 weeks to get included on Google Local and Google Maps. From everyone who I hve helped get on Google Local, they have told me they almost immediatly knew when the listing kicked in because hits to their website, emails or phone calls to their business. Yes, getting on Google Maps is 100% free, it is just going to take you a little bit of time and energy to get signed up with them and thats all! It is a pretty cool way of seeing your business in a top spot without putting much marketing efforts into it!
2. Yelp – Yelp is a great local review site that will help you find just about anything in your local area that can be reviewed. Getting your site listed on Yelp, and getting people to write positive reviews about you will help increase its chances of being picked up on the search engines (more reviews = more content = happier search engines). Check out the user-generated (content) reviews, and the set up of Yelp:
Yelp listings ranks well, and has many trusted users and is a well policed community (from my use anyway), and that is why (in my opinion) the search engines like them so much. Just check out this search result when I look for “Color Me Smart” a Queen Creek Arizona based Preschool –
The owner of the preschool does not even have a website, but since they have a review of them in Yelp, they are getting a first page Google ranking for their business. Think about this, if they list with Google Local and Yelp, they can start to dominate the rankings for their name, as well as local keywords with ease. Again, all 100% free, it just takes some time to get accounts and register your business.
Yelp listings can even help with your Reputation Management by gaining another very valuable spot in the SERPs. For every single one of my businesses, a Yelp listing appears in the first 10 results on Google.