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Business Strategy Basics: Local Search First, Digital Presence Next

Whether you run an established business or are just starting out, local search is the easiest and most cost-effective way to maximize your reach and convert local searchers into new customers. If you're just getting started, you need to put your local search marketing strategy in place and identify ways to enhance your digital presence. Here are a few tips and tricks:
  • Business Profiles Rule! If you Google "local SEO," you'll quickly find yourself buried in hours of reading about how to make your business searchable by potential customers nearby. Even the simplest guide can be full of complex language and confusing instructions. But it isn't that complicated. For starters, you need to make sure your online business profiles can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. Start by setting up your free YP℠ business profile. It's easy to do on your own, but should you need any help along the way, the team at YP would be happy to lend a hand. If you prefer the DIY route, be sure to create a local place page for your business on Google, Bing, and Yahoo as well. Business profiles are a simple way to help people find your business when they are nearby. In these situations, they care about proximity, reviews, and easy access to pertinent business information like hours of operation, direction, and contact numbers. For the best results, you'll also want to identify your business category and include a photo or two — or even a video. According to Moz Local these types of signals are highly ranked by search engines, and they're fairly easy to set up.
  • Don't Forget Your Local Resources Once you've got your profiles set up, it's time to branch out into your local community, especially the Chamber of Commerce. Having a presence on a local Chamber of Commerce website, as well as active participation in Chamber events, can lead to potential partnerships with other local businesses and even help drive awareness of your business.There are also a variety of small business associations — like the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Black Chamber of Commerce, and U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce — that work tirelessly to help local businesses succeed. Some local business publications also have listings services that are available for subscribers. Be sure to add all those to your check-off list as well.
  • Optimize Your Website Content Each audience is different, so be sure to build content that will resonate with your target audience and make clear what products and services you offer.This is where it might pay to get some help from a professional — as both determining your target audiences and building audience-relevant messaging for your profiles can take time and research. It's also important to use the right keywords to ensure your profile pops up regularly in search results. How you go about this will determine both where you choose to create business profiles and which audiences you are trying to target via each channel. Different contexts may require you to use different keywords, highlight different features, and use different messaging to position your overall value proposition. Doing this right from the very start can deliver big results — and is worth the added investment.
  • Turning Your Sights on Your Digital Presence Once you've gotten the basics of local search covered, you can focus on your overall digital presence. Starting with your business' website, make sure it is always up-to-date and provides a stellar user experience, with simple navigation and compelling calls to action. Additionally, make sure your website content is SEO and mobile-friendly. And don't forget about social media. It's important to make good use of relevant social media channels, including Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, as that can make a big impact on how your company ranks in search results. Having a presence in social is only the beginning. Once you've got that sorted, start sharing content regularly to help potential customers find and engage with you. It's also a great way to manage your customer service efforts.
 

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