“I’m a big fan of small business ownership. I think it’s the backbone of American innovation. But to be successful, you first have to have the courage to go for it.” – Bill Rancic
Do you know that the number of young entrepreneurs who decide to quit corporate life and become their own boss keeps on increasing? Independence, flexibility, personal fulfillment – these are just a few advantages of having your own business. When you add the fact that small businesses are on the rise in the US, and research proves that they thrive, running your own business can really be a great idea to earn a living these days.
However, although having your own business can be profitable and many small businesses are successful, so many of them fail each and every year. It begs the question, why?
Why Do Some Small Businesses Fail?
When you consider the survival rate of small businesses, you can figure out that most of them don’t survive the first few years.
Let’s take a look at the statistics:
- 80% of businesses with employees survive only the first year.
- 70% – two years.
- 50% – five years.
- 30% – ten years.
As you can see, not all small businesses are successful. Poor management, bad location, insufficient capital or lack of a website can be fatal to a newly started business.
However, even if your business has great management, perfect location, a busy blog with engaging content, and big enough budget to keep on developing, it can still fail. If you want to be successful, you also need to have a smart plan on how to increase the visibility of your business, and thus, get more customers.
Local SEO Marketing: The Key To Business Exposure
Do you know that 43% of all Google, 25% of all Yahoo and 25% of all Bing searches are local-based? It means that search engines know exactly where you are. They recognize the country you live in, the city, and even the street. Thus, if you search for a business on your mobile device next to its location, it’ll appear on the top of the list in search engines.
Now, thanks to the rapid growth of mobile technology as well as on-the-go searching, local search optimization is a smart SEO trick for small businesses (especially those with brick and mortar stores) to gain more exposure. So, if you optimize your business for local-based searches, you’ll generate more traffic.
Right. I know what you want to say now: why optimize your content for local-based searching if you can invest in a good old printed Yellow Pages? After all, they are also effective.
I agree. However, Yellow Pages are costly and have much smaller audience compared to online directories.
Consider: getting listed on most local platforms is easy and free of charge. Also, since the online audience is vast and about 70% of US citizens own a smartphone, optimizing for local-based searching can be more efficient than investing in Yellow Pages.
Moreover, nowadays, if your business can’t be found on the Web, it basically doesn’t exist. So, if you want to increase the visibility of your business and get more customers, you need to build your online presence. One of the best ways to do that is to improve your local ranking.
Online Listing Platforms: Which One Should You Choose?
In order to get your business included in local searches you need to get listed on online platforms. Now, there are many online listings for local marketing you can choose from. However, it isn’t the best practice to spend numerous hours trying to get listed on every available search engine, index, or app. It’s better to focus on a few major platforms.
To get you started, here are the top three online platforms on which you can get listed for free:
1. Google My Business
Getting listed on Google My Business is a perfect way to increase your chances of showing up in Local Finder, Google’s Local Pack, Google Maps as well as organic rankings.
All eligible small businesses can get the GMB free listing on Google and include information about their company (e.g. name, address, phone number or shopping hours).
What’s wonderful about GMB listing is that it allows you not only to add basic information about your business, but also helps you make your business stand out from the crowd. Here are a few additional features you can use:
- Mini-posts: you can create a unique advertisement about your business in a form of a small post or an image.
- A booking button: it allows your customers to quickly book appointments with your business.
- Messaging: it gives your potential customers a possibility to send you feedback.
Now, GMB has one disadvantage: everyone can check and edit your listing. Thus, if you don’t provide all the required information, your competitors can do it for you. Also, anyone can change all the existing information about your business. So, to make sure no unwanted changes were made to your listing, check your GMB listing regularly.
Yelp is one of the most popular review sites for local businesses, which means, your business can already be included there and all you need to do is to claim it. If you’re not listed on Yelp yet, you can create a new listing for free. Next, you’re free to:
- Fill in information about your business.
- Add photos to make your profile more interesting.
- Read and respond to reviews.
One of the huge advantages of being listed on Yelp is that when you receive a single star in Yelp rating, you get up to 9% increase in revenue. Pretty decent, isn’t it?
Also, Yelp allows you to set up online ordering (by using Yelp Eat24) or create check-in offers. These features can be especially useful for food businesses. So, use them to your advantage!
Although Yahoo isn’t one of the major search engines, getting your business listed on it can be a great supplement to your online local strategy. The listing is easy to create, manage, and you can get started for free.
As far as the optimization of Yahoo Local is concerned, you optimize it the same way as other listings: you can add basic information about your business as well as images. You can also read and respond to reviews.
Now, as I mentioned above, Yahoo listing is free of charge. However, you can also get the enhanced listing, which costs about $10 per month and gives you a company tagline as well as the possibility to add more photos and a detailed business description.
Wrapping It Up
Although many small businesses thrive, some of them fail every year.
If you want your business to prosper, it’s important that you build your online presence. One of the best ways to do it is to optimize your business for local-based searching. It’s easy to manage, effective and, above all, free of charge.
So, what are you waiting for? Get listed on online platforms today!