Targeting Local Customers with Your Website
One of the major advantages of marketing online is that it allows you the opportunity to reach a global audience. Some businesses however are in greater need of having a website that will attract more local customers. There are methods that can help your business to have a greater impact and visibility locally.
The first step is to know what terms potential customers will use for their searches. In most cases local searches will have two parts: 1) the product or service, and 2) the area (city, county, state, etc.). An example would be a search for “hotels in New York City” If your business is located in a small town, chances are people will be searching using the names of surrounding towns or the state. Knowing the common search terms becomes important in the next step.
Step two is to implement the commonly searched words and phrases into your website’s content, page titles, headings, and meta tags (keywords and descriptions). Having the terms that are searched for in these places on your website will give search engines the ability to recognize your website as a match for the search.
The description meta tag tells search engines what text to display as a description of your page in the search results. This can be the difference between someone clicking on your site or moving on to the next site in the search results. Imagine searching for “restaurants in Philadelphia”. If ten websites show up on the results page and only one mentions in its description that it is a Philadelphia restaurant, which one would you be most likely to click? When targeting local searchers, be sure to use the description meta tag to help attract visitors.
After your site has been created there are several ways to target local visitors. Getting your website listed in local online directories will help to generate targeted traffic. Most chambers of commerce have a member directory online. Many cities and states have online directories for businesses in the area. These links will bring some click-through traffic and they will also increase your search engine rankings for local searches.
Advertising your website locally is another option. Radio, TV, newspapers, and billboards can all help to create more local traffic. Advertisements on local websites (such as the website of a newspaper) may also be effective.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising can also be customized to reach local searchers. Many PPC programs, including Google AdWords, will allow you to specify localities in which your ad should be shown. Most PPC advertisers specify countries where the ad should be shown, but you can also narrow down your target market much further to reach the particular area of your potential customers. This way you will only be paying for visitors that are in your local area.
Chances are your business currently gets referrals from or has a relationship with other businesses in your locality. Getting links from the websites of these businesses can bring some additional visitors.
Some businesses successfully use coupons on their website to generate traffic to their site. Coupons and special offers may draw inbound links, and they can also be advertised. Many of your regular customers may have never been to your website. Coupons provide a way to get them to visit and see what you have available.
One of the most overlooked ways to drive local traffic to your site is Google Maps. If someone does a Google search for a local business that matches your business information, Google Maps will show your contact information and a map of your location BEFORE any of the search results. With a Google Maps listing your websites search engine ranking is less important, since the contact information will be shown high on the results page. Add your business to Google Maps today.
Increasing local traffic should be an ongoing process. By combining the methods listed above and continuing to improve the process as you learn, you can maximize the potential of your website.