Promote Your Business Locally

10 Free Ways You Can Get Started Promoting Your Business Locally | Strategic Websites Philadelphia, PA

Local searches are through the roof. Last year searches with the phrase near me or in my town grew by more than 900%. These days, nearly half of all Google searches have local intent. 

This is actually great news if you’re a small business owner…even if you don’t sell locally. Local searches are an excellent way to optimize your search results and improve your ranking with comparatively little effort. 

Trying to compete with every other business online is tough, particularly in certain industries where you really have to “pay to play” (buy a lot of targeted AdWords). This is tougher for smaller or newer businesses that lack the budgets of bigger companies. 

But competing for local search result spots is a more targeted approach to search engine optimization. Instead of competing with thousands of similar businesses, you compete with a small handful. Also, many small businesses are still neglecting their local search options, making it easier to catch or surpass them in search positions. 

Best of all, though, is that many of the things you need to do to optimize your website to compete in local searches are completely free. That’s right, you don’t have to pay to play. Most won’t cost you a single penny, and if they do, it’s something fun like an event and not just spending on ads people are always trying to silence anyways. 

Without further adieu, here are 10 ways you can get started promoting your business locally for free. 

1. Go to local networking events and build offline connections

Bet you thought we’d start off with some digital trick? Nope. One of the best things you can do to promote your local business is to get active in your local community. Every city has different networking events aimed at small business owners, POC business owners, people who love the color blue, or any other random way to group people together. 

Yes, the pandemic made socializing hard over the past couple of years. That just means even more people are going to be primed and ready to socialize. Search online by region or city, and don’t forget to look through Facebook for the latest events.

Go out and be present. Be careful, though, not to just shill for your business. You want to form genuine relationships with other business owners or like-minded people. The sales will come later. For now, focus on making real connections. 

2. Get Active on Social Media

If you have a business, you need to be present on social media

But don’t just stop with your business. Be active generally. Whatever your business’ niche, be present and social in those communities. You might think your business is too niche to have an online community, but you’d be wrong. We’ve seen online communities on just about anything you can imagine, from people who debate screwdrivers to sheet metal enthusiasts. 

Find the hashtags and buzzwords relevant to your industry and follow them. Then, find the influencers and comment on their posts. Be helpful, be positive, and be of value to the community, and people will notice. 

Chances are you started your business because it was something you knew or had a passion for. So, go share that passion with your community. 

3. Get Listed on Local Directories

A big part of why people search locally is to find your basic information like hours, phone number, etc. Often people find directories before they find your website. 

So, you need to be sure you’re in the right places. Take a day or more to search out your local town. Look for all the little guides that exist, not just the obvious ones. There are many specialized bloggers and influencers out there these days, and you want to ensure your company is listed with the right ones. Sometimes you’ll even get more visits from a site with fewer visitors if that’s a more active community. 

Pro Tip: Ensure all your listings are CONSISTENT. Be detailed. If you use Avenue in one spot and Ave in another, that trips up Google’s bots. Make sure all your phone numbers, hours of operation, and other fine details are the same everywhere your business is listed.

4. Ask for online reviews

When people are getting to know a new business, they want to know they can trust it. Of course, you’re going to say great things about your business or products on your website, but social proof is huge these days. You cannot ignore reviews. 

If you know you have some satisfied customers, reach out to them to post about their experiences with your business. It can be a short or long review, whatever they’re comfortable with. But you want to make sure it sounds authentic, and it’s easy for new customers to find. You can highlight these reviews on your website, but they carry even more weight (and SEO benefits) if they’re on other websites. 

If you want to really boost your relationship with the client, offer them a small incentive or discount for their time.

5. Offer rewards & incentives

Speaking of boosting your relationship with your clients. Everyone loves being noticed and rewarded, especially your customers. Reaching out to your current or prospective customers with an offer is an excellent way to boost your image in their minds.  

Word-of-mouth or refer-a-friend promos work well here. They already enjoyed your service or product and just need a slight nudge to tell their friends, family, and others about their experience. Reward them for the effort because it’s the right thing to do. Also, it costs you much less than finding those new referrals on your own!

6. Reach out to your local press

Press and journalism have changed a lot in the last couple of decades. Gone are the days of journalists hitting the streets with a notepad sleuthing out the latest happenings. The press is working with lower budgets and limited staff. It relies on press releases and other ways of finding information. 

Most publish their contact information and detail out how to get in touch with them about stories. Don’t be shy or afraid to send them little things. Throwing an anniversary party that’s open to the public, let them know. Accomplished something in your industry, let them know. They might not run every story, but they’ll run more than you might think. 

7. Build up an email list

People have short attention spans these days. Openings and happenings are going on every day. Even people who love your product or service can easily get distracted by the next shiny new thing. You need a way to stay at the top of your customer’s minds – the email list. 

It’s an oldie, but a goodie. Email lists have endured through many different digital revolutions and new platforms. Emails are still an excellent way to stay in touch with your most loyal customers and let them know what’s happening in your world. 

Keep the emails short, to the point, and valuable to your customers, though. Long-form essays and descriptions belong in blog posts or podcasts. Emails are often read on the go, and people are scanning to see what’s of value to them, so be sure that’s easy for your audience to notice.

8. Blog and reach out for guest posts

Blogs are still a fantastic way to move up in the search rankings while connecting with your target audience. Google favors websites that post regularly (you are keeping to a content schedule, right?). 

Your articles also give your audience a way to learn more about who you are, what you value, and some of the other services or products you offer. Don’t be afraid to rework and repurpose content. Had a podcast that performed well? Write it out into a blog post or vice versa. 

Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to other writers, particularly people in or adjacent to your industry. Guest writers bring in their own audience, which helps expand and grow your own network. You can also go write for their site or appear on their podcast as a trade, which, again, will help you expand your network.

9. Check your website’s ease of use and optimization

This works for general search engine ranking, but it’s worth noting here. 

Check the details of your website:

  • Is your site fast loading?
  • Is it friendly for mobile users?
  • Do you have an SEO (search engine optimization) strategy in place that’s working?
  • Is your content optimized for local searches? 
  • If you have multiple branches or locations, do you have specific landing pages for each?

Changes here will have a significant boost to your rankings and online performance. Things like site speed and mobile-friendliness are crucial for localized searches because people are doing these searches when out and about. If your site is down, slow, or hard to navigate, they’ll simply move on to the competition.

10. Host and Event, Class, Demo

We saved this one for last because an event could potentially cost you some money. But it would be way more valuable for you than unfocused ad buys. You can do events completely for free depending on the scale, where, etc. 

And demos and classes can be run from your location at no charge to you. These types of in-person events give customers a reason to visit you that isn’t just browsing and will help you demonstrate the usefulness of your product or service. 

Ask your existing customers if you don’t know what kind of event or class to run. Find out what they’re struggling with or some questions you answered for them during your time together. Then, build out your next course from that information. 

Just don’t forget to ask your attendees for their email and contact information so you can boost your list!

Now go get started promoting your business today

These tips should give you plenty of help to get started promoting your small business. Many of the suggestions cost only your time and expertise. Often, we just need to get some momentum, and things snowball. 

If you’re struggling to find ideas, please keep reading our posts or reach out to us directly. We can point you in the right direction, assist you, or even take over parts of your digital marketing strategy that you don’t have time for. 

Whatever you do, don’t neglect your local market when setting your digital strategy

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