If you’re a small business with a product or service relevant to your local audience, then you need to be visible to that local audience online.
We share some hints and tips for making sure your business is visible, locally.
Google My Business
Make sure you claim or set up a profile on Google My Business (GMB); Google tells you how here.
This is really important to make sure you get considered by Google when people are doing local searches like “near me” or on a Google Map.
Think with Google states: “Over the last two years, searches for local places without the qualifier "near me" have grown 150%, faster than comparable searches that do not include "near me.”
Claiming your GMB profile means you will be able to optimise it with your all up to date contact information and opening hours, if relevant.
Even if you work from home, you can still set up a GMB profile, you can just leave the Business Location information blank.
You can also
- Upload photos of your team, your shop/office, your products or services
- Create Posts to notify people of your latest products, offers, services or just a newsy update
- Add your Products and Services
- View your reviews and respond directly – you can also get a shortened link to send out to customers that will take them straight to a new review
- View your analytics to see how people are finding you and what they are doing i.e. calling, asking for directions, visiting your website
There’s also an option to turn on Chat – though I do find if people can contact you in too many places, it becomes overwhelming to manage it all.
We go into a little more detail in our blog post: The Importance of Google My Business.
Bing Places for Business
Though we may often have forgotten, other Search Engines to exist!
Bing Places for Business (BPfB) is the Microsoft version of GMB and behaves in a similar way you can link to it here and follow the instructions to add or claim your business.
Social media is a great way to get your business out there in front of the masses and let the community know you exist and what you do.
Social media and all the different platforms can be overwhelming for some, but to reach your community it really is a vital tool you should be using as it’s free.
The most common platforms for businesses to be using at the moment are Facebook and Instagram, with TikTok growing in popularity.
For B2B businesses, LinkedIn and Twitter are also great channels you should be considering. There are others like Pinterest and YouTube, but we’ll just focus on Facebook and Instagram.
Creating a social media profile and creating regular, relevant content will allow your customers to follow and support you by liking and sharing your content so they’re doing some of the hard work for you when it comes to spreading the word.
Facebook is a great starting platform for creating a business profile. Statica (2021), states that there are 2.91 billion people on Facebook in 2021.
That said Facebook can be hard to grow an audience if you don’t have a large personal following to begin with ( you should always invite all your personal followers to like your Business page, it’s what they expect!).
One of the good things about Facebook is the group functionality. Joining local groups and following their promotion rules to share your business content will help you gain awareness and visibility.
Setting up Facebook Shopping is another good way to get people straight to your products by enabling you to tag them in your posts with a direct link to purchase.
The biggest issue I hear from small businesses is about the type of content that they should be posting.
We created A Guide to Creating a Successful Social Media Strategy which gives you some tips on thinking of things to post about but as a quick overview here are some things you could consider posting about:
- Why you created your business
- What are your passions
- What are your products/services
- What are your business strengths
- What is your unique selling point
- Pick up on topical/trending/seasonal content
- Showcase customer reviews
- Shout out to another local business
- Post a local attraction
- Post about your working day
- Post an animal pic (always get the most likes)
Make sure you support your posts with good imagery whether it’s a photo you’ve taken or an image you’ve put together yourself. We would recommend using Canva for image creation as it really does make it easy.
Also, consider going live and just talking about yourself and your business or having a question and answer session.
No matter what you post, make sure you monitor if it got likes and shares; make sure to repeat the posts that get the most likes and shares with a different angle or topic.
Most importantly, always try to be honest and authentic with a local audience, they will know!
Instagram is also a good platform for a visual business and can be a little easier to get followers if you ensure you’re using the right hashtags.
Make sure you set up a Business Profile so that you can get more in-depth analytics as well as set up Instagram Shopping if you want to.
You don’t need a fancy camera to show off your products. Here are some great sources to help you when it comes to taking photos for Instagram:
When creating content for your Instagram grid be a little mindful of how your grid will look to a visitor. The more pleasing grids are more thought out, they are neat and often colour coordinated to give a professional-looking appearance - with currently 1 billion users on Instagram as of 2022 (backlinkko.com), making your business stand out professionally is important
If this is a bit too much, then just make sure your pictures look good (image size is 1080x1080px), your description is engaging and concise and you are using hashtags.
You have a maximum of 30 hashtags – you don’t have to use them all – 11 is often flouted as the optimum number.
Make sure they are all relevant to the product or service. For example, a coffee company in Saltash may use the hashtags #coffeelover #saltash #cornwall. People following these hashtags will see this content and you have the possibility of capturing the attention of people who may not know about you.
For the local element, ensure you are hashtagging your local town and any associated terms as well as following the tags yourself so you can jump on other similar content to re-share.
It’s also important to try and seek out your local customers by doing searches with relevant local hashtags and finding accounts to follow.
You can also go live on Instagram, talking directly to your audience. This is a great way to build customer relationships by showing your business and personality.
Just like Facebook, you can also tag products, which makes it easy for people to click and buy with options to add to stories and use them as a Highlight if you wish. Most recently you’ve needed at least 100 followers to be eligible for Instagram Shopping.
An Instagram story is a 24-hour image or video that shows above a feed for those who are following you. It is great for images and video content that won’t look so good on your feed, but you can still share. Importantly you can add a link (swipe up) in a Story that you can’t add in an Instagram post.
Stories can then be saved as Highlights which sit at the top of your Profile and enable interested people to find out a little more about your business.
Make sure you’re adding your business to all the free directories you can.
Here’s a list of a few national ones which are still used for local searches:
- Yell https://www.yell.com/My Local Services https://www.mylocalservices.co.uk/
- Find open https://find-open.co.uk/
- 192 http://192.com
- Showmelocal http://uk.showmelocal.com/
- Thomson Local http://www.thomsonlocal.com/
- Near http://near.co.uk
In addition there maybe local resources you can use; for Saltash we currently have Shop Saltash which we put together for COVID. If it continues to be used, we will keep it running and extend the functionality.
We are also working on a “What’s On Callington” website for local businesses which should be freely available soon.
There are some other directories across Cornwall that you may be able to find but some do ask for a fee.
If you do have a website, make sure that you have a page that is optimised for your location, that could be a Contact page or an About Us page which has your address or very least town and county.
If it makes sense, include your location on your home page and maybe include your address in the footer.
Be sure that your website is mobile-friendly, as more than half of Internet users worldwide use a mobile device for their local searches (Search Engine Journal).
Flyers (ok it’s not Online)
It has been said that print is dead, but from what I’ve seen that’s definitely not true!
If you are setting up a new business, product or offer and everything is in place online, it may be worth complementing this with a local leaflet drop if it’s relevant to your business.
If you’re willing to put in the leg work, using a template from Canva, a low level print run from somewhere like Vistaprint, you can create a nice little flyer which you can then post through local letterboxes.
If you are looking to use a Distribution company, they will be looking for drops in the 1000s at quite a cost currently, but a local flyer drop whilst you’re walking the dog or out jogging (not me!) is a great option.
Add a code or something like “quote flyer1” so you know if it’s worked.
One last thing
Try to make sure that your contact information is consistent across all of these platforms and directories mentioned here as well as your website.
This data is often referred to as NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) and Google gives value to consistent accurate data.
It may be worth making a note of where you enter all your data so in the future if you need to update it, you know what you have to do.
So we hope these tips will point you in the right direction for getting your small business the recognition it deserves locally.
If you would like some help though, please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected] or 01752 651414 – we create bespoke packages to suit individual business needs.