Standing out online is challenging. You and your competitors are likely doing the same online marketing activities for the most part, so how can you gain an edge and improve your online visibility?
One way to stand out is to look at what your competitors may NOT be doing and fill that gap. Another way to improve your visibility is to complete essential tasks in unique ways.
Here are three ways you can edge out your competitors in local search results and reach more high-value new customers:
Three Online Visibility Tips for Small Business
1. Optimize for Voice Search
Voice search technology is now being incorporated into everyday devices – phones, smart speakers, TVs, and even cars – providing a convenient, accessible way for people to quickly search for local businesses.
People use voice search to request information (“Siri, call Pretty Paw’s Pet Spas”), ask questions (“Alexa, when does my dentist’s office close?”), or get recommendations (“Hey Google, who is the top-rated HVAC contractor near me?”).
A 2020 survey found that 63% of Americans utilized a voice-operated assistant in the past year. However, many small businesses have yet to include voice search into their SEO strategy. This means you have an opportunity to get ahead of the game.
Claim your business:
Many business owners do not realize the important role directory listings play in voice search visibility. They are basically the digital equivalent of the yellow pages and are one of the ways search engines find and validate your business. Four of the most important listings to claim are Google, Apple, Yelp, and Bing. These are the profiles that voice search browsers (and map applications) pull their data from. If you do not have a business listing on these four platforms, you are effectively invisible in local voice searches.
Optimize your business listings:
Listing optimization is one of those mundane tasks that many business owners take for granted, or overlook altogether – yet it can make a HUGE difference in voice search performance. Fully flesh out your listings with business info, services, photos, reviews, and other content. Make sure you use the exact same NAP (name, address, phone number) information across all of your directories. Also, pay attention to listing tips shared by Google, Apple, Yelp, and Bing. This will help ensure your profiles function well and outshine competitors.
Keep your business listings current:
It is critically important that you keep your business listings current. If the only content on your profile is dated from two years ago, search algorithms and customers are going to think that it’s a defunct listing, and you have possibly closed shop. So, keep things updated with fresh content to show that you are an active business. In particular, make sure to stay on top of review generation. A 2020 local consumer review survey found that 48% of consumers only pay attention to reviews written within the past 2 weeks.
If you want to learn more about voice search, we have put together a free online workshop to help local businesses get ready for voice search.
2. Be Active on Social Media
To stay relevant in an increasingly digital society, it is critical that small businesses maintain a strong social media presence. These days people expect you to interact with them on social media – via comments, direct messages, mentions, etc. In fact, having inactive social profiles (or not having any social media presence at all) can actually be a red flag that someone is not a legitimate company.
Claim your business on top social channels:
To clarify, we do not mean rushing to get on every hot new social channel emerging on the scene. We mean doing your research and making sure you are present on the top social media platforms for your specific audience and industry. For example, the most popular social platforms, overall, in the US are currently Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. However, depending on your specific context, you might want to focus on more niche platforms such as LinkedIn or NextDoor. You want to be strategic in selecting your social media channels to effectively connect with your audience and increase your marketing ROI.
Establish your brand:
Good branding is critical – it is what people think of your business before they’ve personally interacted with you. Everything you do on social media should help establish (and reinforce) your brand. Do you want to come across as friendly, professional, traditional, experimental, local, or corporate? Consider your color scheme, font type, writing style, tone of voice, visuals (photos and video), etc. All of these different elements work together to convey a sense of who you are, what you offer, and why people should care.
As previously mentioned, it is important that you stay active on social media by sharing content frequently. But do not simply treat social media as a news bulletin board – rather, be engaging, ask questions, and work to build a community. Aim to post new content and interact with other profiles at least 2-3 times a week. Also, set up alerts for when someone posts a comment or sends a message so that you can quickly respond to incoming questions (ideally within a few hours). Not only is this good customer service, but many social media platforms reward highly responsive brand pages with increased visibility.
3. Create High-Value Content Consistently
“Content is king” is a popular maxim in the digital marketing world – and for good reason. Your content is what captures peoples’ attention and helps you stand out from competitors. It is the interface throughout which customers discover and interact with your business online.
Create relevant content:
The most important thing to keep in mind when creating content is that it must be centered on your customers’ needs and interests. As such, you can’t just make assumptions about what you think they will find relevant. Instead, do your research and utilize social listening tactics to determine what topics your audience is talking about, what types of questions they are asking, their pain points, etc. Also, keep in mind that your audience will get bored if you post the type of content over and over again. Instead, use a mixture of different formats, for example:
- Blog posts
- Social media
Showcase your expertise:
Rather than copying what everyone else is doing, focus on producing quality content that showcases what makes your business unique. It is important to stay timely and up to date with major industry trends, but you want to do so in a way that adds something of value to the conversation and demonstrates your expertise. But this doesn’t mean you have to be serious all the time. You can show mastery in your field by having fun playing, experimenting, and letting out your creative side.
Also, do not be afraid to tell stories about interesting challenges you have faced and how you solved them. Or to share funny anecdotes about mistakes you have made and what you learned from them. This level of authenticity and humanity will really help you stand out from competitors. Instead of being a faceless corporation, it shows customers that you are a person, an expert they can trust to do right by them.
Publish your content across your online presence:
Do not just post content to your social media channels; share it on your website, blog, business listings, etc. The more relevant, localized content you share across your online presence, the more reachable you will be. For example, each piece of content you produce gives search engines a little bit more information about your business which they use to determine if you are relevant to the search. And the more places you appear across the web, the more familiar your audience will become with your brand.
Surefire Local: Your Online Marketing Partner
At Surefire Local, our mission is to give local businesses the tools and knowledge they need to take charge of their digital marketing. Our business intelligence marketing software makes it possible to run all your marketing strategies from a single place: SEO, business listings, lead generation, reviews, content creation, social media, digital ads, email marketing, and more. Our innovative solutions allow you to seamlessly align online and offline touchpoints as people move through your buyer’s journey. And by eliminating data silos from your business, you gain a 360° view of your marketing ROI. Moreover, our marketing experts are always happy to share more online visibility tips for small businesses to help you get ahead of competitors.
Schedule your Surefire Local Marketing Platform demo today!