Establishing a robust online presence has become indispensable for local businesses. The last decade or so has dramatically altered how customers interact with businesses, making an online presence not just a luxury, but a necessity for success.
If you’re just starting out or looking to enhance your profile, understanding the importance of building a strong online presence is the first step towards achieving your business goals. To help, below you’ll find some practical tips and insights, guiding you through the journey of building a strong online presence and why it is necessary. As a digital marketing agency, we’ve helped multiple businesses improve their local SEO efforts, so with a few tweaks to your current marketing approach, you can do the same.
With the internet at their fingertips, consumers are looking to make informed decisions about where to shop, dine, and discover local services near them. Online searches for ‘near me’ when users are looking for something to buy have grown 500% over the last 2 years. This means that local businesses must adapt to remain competitive and relevant, ensuring they can show up in the SERPs when customers are looking for the exact services and products you offer in their area.
The modern consumer is more informed, connected, and discerning than ever before. Online searches often precede physical store visits, with customers seeking information on products, services, and user reviews. In fact, 97% of people learn more about a local company by searching the internet first. This trend highlights the necessity for local businesses to not only exist online but to actively engage with their audience through various digital channels.
A strong online presence ensures that your business is visible to potential customers at the right time and place. This visibility is crucial in driving foot traffic, generating leads, and ultimately, boosting sales. 88% of searches for local businesses on a mobile device either call or visit the business within 24 hours, so by focusing on local SEO, social media marketing, and PPC, local businesses can significantly enhance their reach and impact within their communities.
Trust and credibility are paramount online. A well-maintained online presence, with up-to-date information, engaging content, and prompt responses to customer queries, fosters trust. It also reflects the quality and reliability of your business, influencing consumer perception and decision-making. As many as 63% of consumers would lose trust in a business after seeing mostly negative reviews online, so this is vital to survive in a competitive environment.
The transition to a more digital-focused approach can seem daunting, especially for traditional brick-and-mortar businesses. However, embracing this is vital for sustainability and growth. The digital landscape offers numerous opportunities for local businesses to innovate, connect with customers on a deeper level, and stand out in a crowded market.
Understanding the advantages of a strong online presence is crucial for local businesses. This not only enhances visibility but also opens doors to numerous opportunities that can drive business growth and success.
A robust online presence enables local businesses to break geographical boundaries. By being accessible online, your business can reach a wider audience, including potential customers who may not be aware of your physical location. This increased visibility is key to attracting new customers and expanding your market reach.
From social media to email marketing, these channels allow for direct communication, feedback, and interaction with your customers. Engaging with your audience online can build stronger relationships, foster loyalty, and even turn customers into brand ambassadors.
Digital marketing can be more cost-effective compared to traditional advertising methods. With tools like targeted ads, SEO, and content marketing, local businesses can reach their desired audience more efficiently and at a lower cost. Additionally, the ability to track and measure the effectiveness of online campaigns provides valuable insights for optimising marketing strategies.
Analytics and data can be pivotal in understanding customer preferences, behaviour, and trends. This information allows you to make informed decisions, tailor offerings, and stay ahead of the competition.
A strong online presence provides a level of adaptability and resilience, especially in times of uncertainty. For instance, in lockdowns during the pandemic, businesses with an established online presence were better positioned to continue operations and maintain customer relationships.
Knowing how to build a strong online presence requires a combination of strategic planning and practical implementation. Here are some effective strategies that can help your business get started:
An integral part of building a strong local online presence involves leveraging local listings and managing online reviews. These elements play a crucial role in how potential customers perceive and interact with your business.
Ensuring your business is listed on relevant online directories is vital, such as Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, and local business directories. These listings improve your visibility in local search results and provide essential information like your business location, hours, and contact details. Regularly updating these listings will ensure accuracy and reliability.
Google My Business (GMB) is a powerful tool for local businesses. A well-optimised GMB profile can significantly enhance your search engine visibility. Include comprehensive details about your business, add high-quality images, and regularly post updates or offers. Utilise GMB’s features like Q&A, posts, and messaging to engage with your audience.
Customer reviews on platforms like Google and Trustpilot are influential in shaping public perception. Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews and respond to these reviews, both positive and negative, in a professional and constructive manner. This not only shows that you value customer feedback but also improves trust and credibility.
Your online reputation can be a deciding factor for potential customers. Monitor what is being said about your business online and address any issues promptly. Utilising reputation management tools or brand monitoring tools can help in keeping track of mentions and reviews across various platforms.
Ensure your local listings are SEO-optimised by including relevant keywords, categories, and local terms. This enhances your chances of appearing in localised searches, making it easier for potential customers in your area to find you.
If you can build a strong local online presence, your business can begin to increase visibility, enhance customer engagement, and build greater resilience in a competitive market. Remember, the journey to building a strong online presence is an ongoing one that requires dedication, adaptability, and a willingness to engage with and learn from your community and market trends.
If you’re looking to unlock the full potential of your local business and need expert guidance, we can help here at Absolute. Contact us today to discuss your business goals and we can help you devise a marketing strategy that will provide long-term success in the SERPs.