The internet has given businesses of all sizes an unprecedented opportunity to reach consumers and clients in all four corners of the world. Within a few clicks, someone in China or Australia could be browsing your site and investigating your products or services. But while this may be useful for some companies, for many the true power of the internet lies in reaching out to people a little closer to home.

For businesses that offer physical services that are by their nature geographically specific – restaurants, hair salons, garages, dental clinics etc – it often doesn’t make sense to target customers outside of a certain radius. If you can recognise your own business in this then you know that your marketing efforts are clearly better directed towards your local area, but how can you do this?

Tell the search engines more about your business

The internet’s major search engines are today pretty well clued into what their users are looking for, and they know that often people are looking for services or shops that are nearby. For this reason they’ve created a number of features that enable users to easily find specific types of businesses in their local area, and for businesses to reach out to these same customers.

Google’s ‘Places for Business’ for example enables you to register as the owner of a local business, and to provide pertinent information such as your location and contact information, opening hours and more. Customers can also leave feedback and reviews, which you can then respond to.

Bing and Yahoo have similar services, and these are gradually becoming more integrated into the search results pages. Yahoo for instance has recently started displaying detailed information about a local business when clicked, in the right hand pane besides the results themselves. The feature is currently only available in the US, but this will inevitably move to the other side of the pond before long.

Google similarly displays additional information when a users hovers over your business result, including pictures, your location on Google Maps and, significantly, an average review rating.

Create local content

Once you’ve got registered with the search engines’ local business listings, you can promote yourself further online by creating content targeted at people in your local area. This content should be targeted both in the sense that it appeals to local residents, and that it contains local keywords/phrases, such as ‘mechanics in Croydon’ or ‘Chinese restaurant in Grimsby’. A professional copywriter can help you to create content unique to your business.

Leverage PPC advertising locally

You can also target local phrases in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and specify the geographic locations in which you want your ads displayed.

Local reviews sites and social media

Today people are often keen to share their knowledge and experiences of a local business with other people. Monitoring review sites and regularly maintaining your social media accounts enables you to keep on top of the conversation. If you don’t have time to do this yourself, it may be worthwhile hiring a digital marketing agency to assist.

For more ideas about promoting your business to local customers, why not take a look at our Content Strategy page?

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