credit-card-reader-blogs.jpgSo potential customers are right outside your door or maybe even a couple blocks from your local business, but how do you get them in the door? Is the best way to post flyers or have someone stand outside your business throwing a sign in circles for hours? Not exactly. Although you wouldn’t think so, the internet can actually be your most helpful tool for your local business. In today’s blog, we’re going to discuss 5 helpful tips that can help your local business expand and find new customers.

Make your website local. Make your business show up first for people looking for places in your area. Google SEO (search engine optimization) promotes certain details that are essential to add to your website that are brought up in the search results. These details make your site easier for people to find. This means providing keywords such as your address, city, suburb, zip code, a map and even directions. Another important factor is to provide your business address and phone number on every page.

Direct people to your site. Directing people to your site is important to spread awareness for your local business. A great way to do this is to include inbound links and linking your social media accounts to your site. Connecting with other businesses to create a mutually beneficial and lasting relationship can also get your local business’s name promoted through additional sites and social pages as well. One of the easiest ways to spread awareness is to use your most loyal contacts, most likely your friends, long-time customers and family, to spread awareness for your local business, even if it is just word of mouth or a quick Facebook post.

Use Google Places. Give people the vital information their looking for when looking at your business online. Sharing your location, phone, hours, directions, reviews and photos has never been easier. I’m sure you’ve seen this feature before for another business. This feature can bring your search result to the top of the page, especially before other places without a “Place Page” appear in the search results. According to a survey of 33 SEO experts, here are the top ten factors that go into Google Places:

  1. Physical address in City of Search on Place Page
  2. Manually owner-verified Place Page on Place Page
  3. Use of proper Categories on Place Page
  4. Volume of citations, i.e. references from other websites
  5. Address on website must match Place Page address
  6. How well website pages rank for SEO
  7. Quality of inbound links to website
  8. Phone number on website must match Place Page phone number
  9. Local area code on Place Page
  10. City, State in Places Landing Page title on your website

Other similar sites to provide your business’s information on include Bing Local and Yahoo Local.

Get customers to check-in. The most popular geolocation app to let others know where you’ve been and about your experience is Foursquare. Have your customers check in on apps like Foursquare, Gowalla, Whrrl, Brightkite, Buzzd or even Gypsii. Providing an incentive for them to check-in and share can be difficult though. Try out promotional deals for anyone who does so or perhaps, periodically, as they check-in. This small promotion can pay off big in the long-run.

Use Groupon. Groupon is a deal-of-the-day recommendation service for consumers. Groupon works by sending out daily coupons for a person’s area with discounts at about 50%. Groupon promises to make X sales a day and takes a commission, but if they don’t meet the required number, there is no need for the seller to provide commission or discounts to Groupon. Groupon can be a great way to bring in some new faces to your business, but be careful. If your margins are small and return rates are typically low, this can be a dangerous method to grow local business. Groupon takes a 50% commission on revenue, so if you’re selling an item for $100, after the 50% off it will only be $50. In the end, you’ll only get 25$ from the revenue and Groupon will get the same amount. When providing discounts such as these, you’re investing in a customer’s future business, not their current business and you’d better have markups that can handle this deal.

Bringing in customers is important for any local business, but using these methods, you can see results in just a few days. Give these methods a try today and watch your local business grow tomorrow!

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