April 27, 2014
If you’ve got a new startup baby, well then, congratulations are in order! Like all new parents, you would want the best for your business so that it will flourish and prosper.
Luckily, there are many ways people can find out about your local startup, thanks to the evolution of search engines, social media, mobile devices, and tech-savvy users. You’ll probably be interested to know that seven out of 10 searches are related to a search for local content, and that 72 percent of potential customers are likely to trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
So now that we know establishing a positive online presence helps in growing your local startup, how do we ensure we’re doing it right? Gone are the days when small business blogging was all you needed to succeed in growing your company. Nowadays, we’ll need all the help we can get in gaining visibility for our local startup on the Internet. In this article, I will summarize methods and other resources needed to skyrocket business on the web to a hyper-level, while utilizing technology to enhance customer experiences on a local level.
Ready to go? Rev up your engines, startup founders!
Step 1: Kickstart your search engine presence
This can be done using SEO best practices such as:
- Get free reports from SEO companies. The feedback they give may be just the foundation you need to get your SEO best practices in order, even for a newbie in the business.
- Learn to harness the power of Google’s Keyword Tool. This tool can enlighten you with what your local audience is currently talking about. You can then craft high-quality, keyword optimized content around these topics or issues to drive more local traffic to your webpage. Having a strong presence and visibility on search engines will help you be found by customers.
- It pays to do a little homework and familiarize yourself with the world of SEO. Sites like SEO Book and Search Engine Watch provide handy tutorials on creating additional value to your startup, while SERPS.com helps improve your search engine rankings via an intuitive dashboard.
Step 2: Level up your social media presence
Powerful social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube are awesome marketing tools for brands of all shapes and sizes. For starters, create these accounts (if you haven’t already) and use a little more effort to include accurate information and statements that best describe your brand.
Use videos to educate, entertain and inform, while joining appropriate communities on Google+ or LinkedIn to connect with like-minded individuals or simply to garner support from potential buyers and partners.
Learn how to #hashtag on Twitter properly. Don’t make it too long or meaningless, but focus on creating catchy hashtags that encourage conversation and discussion.
Want to enhance customer experiences and ensure a lasting relationship with them? Dedicate the time to trawl your social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter so that you can listen in on what’s being said about your startup, and then act on it by giving timely and helpful responses to their feedback.
Step 3: Leverage location-based services
Not listed in online directories yet? Get to work and make sure your startup is listed on directories like Google Maps Listing, Bing Maps Listing and Yahoo! Maps Listing. Doing so will virtually put your business out there on the map and allow potential customers to easily locate you. Also, this gives you an edge over your rivals who aren’t quite as visible as you are, so people are more likely to choose your business over your competitors!
After that, do consider managing your online business listings with a single click, all in one place at MOZ Local. For a cost-effective annual fee, you can take advantage of this user-friendly tool by providing updated information and allowing it to send your data to all major aggregators. As a result, major search engines can effectively find and display updated listings, sending in new customers in droves!
Step 4: Give something back to the community
- Write articles and editorials for local newspapers and magazines.
- Ask local food bloggers to review your restaurant in return for a free meal. The outside link will help with rankings, and the positive review will help your reputation.
- Participate in events and charities
Step 5: Optimize your blog and include blogger outreach
Reach out to local bloggers to find out how you can create mutually-beneficial partnerships. This can be done by first locating 10 to 20 blogs that reach your target market.
Send out emails to the owners and highlight what you’re offering, how they can help, and why they should want to help you. Before long, you’ll be fostering healthy connections that will have them genuinely promoting your business.
Got a great blog going on? Next up, work on growing your email database. It’s always good to keep your customers in the know by personally sending them your latest promotions or just communicating with them to find out what they’re thinking via e-newsletters.
BONUS! Manage your online reputation
Review sites have become an integral part of a business’s reputation, and negative reviews have the potential to harm your business. Too many negative Yelp reviews, whether true or not, will turn business away. Asking happy customers to write you a review, as well as responding personally to any negative feedback, is the best way to maintain a positive online reputation.
To encourage more reviews, you could reach out on your social networks and directly message each individual that already follows you asking them to please leave a review to help improve your offerings to them. You could also place signage in and around your establishment notifying them to please leave reviews and other information relating to your campaign.
It’s so easy to sit back and let your Internet marketing team take charge of everything. Whether you have an in-house department or an outsourced team, you won’t get a 100 percent result if you don’t put in some effort as well. For example, if you’re a bakery owner and have hired a team to manage your business’s social media front, you can’t expect to have that same team to be at your bakery 24/7 in order to take snapshots of your customers, tell them about your new Facebook campaign, and basically be at your beck and call. Before letting others help you, you’ve got to help yourself first.
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