6 Local Search Factors to consider when Starting A Business


In today’s world there are many factors to consider before starting an online business. The first and foremost factor is what is called the “Wow” factor. The “Wow” factor is that factor that drives customers to your business and makes them want to use your product and/or service.

So what must you, as a business owner consider before launching your online business?

Search Ranking Factors

 

 

You first need to generate interest in your product and/or service. This is easier said than done. There is a myriad of options available to you. Making your business stand out from the crowd is going to take a lot of hard work and determination.

The most important factor in starting any online business is making people aware that you are open and ready to receive customers. Only when you can make people aware of what your business is doing, can you really get your “foot in the door” so to speak. You must determine from day one what your target audience will be, what their needs are and how your product/service will fulfill those needs and how you will project your image and product to the public.

It may seem a bit overwhelming at first to tackle all the aspects of starting an online business. It is, however, important that you at the very least have some idea of where your business will go and what market you will focus your energies on before “jumping in”.

 

6 Local Search Factors for an Online Business

 

Local Search factors

 

Local Citations

 

Citations are passive comments and information garnered by searching industry sites. They are the recommendations you often see by experts in your field. By researching these citations, you can have a better understanding of how to fit your product/service in the marketing place. You should look for how accessible their website is, how much information they have on their product/service and what others say about them. You can learn a lot by citations, but you also need to do diligent research by networking with others in the industry you’re planning to place your product/service in.

See: Building Local Citations

Links

 

These are the active drivers to your product and/or service. For instance if you have a restaurant that serves Italian food and you want your customers to be able to get it, you must offer a way for them to do it. A link can do a couple of different things. It can drive your customer to take action by clicking on the link or it can give your customers information. When you start to look at links, it’s a very good idea to make sure that your links drive the customers in the right direction. You need to make sure the links are working, you have the correct data in them and your links are on target with the correct audience.

{Inbound Link}
A link that points from one site to another

{Internal Link}
A link that goes from one page to another on same domain

 

You could make an argument here about what is most important to get, a citation or a link. However both are important to have when first starting out. You use the citations to research the reputation of the people in your chosen industry, then once you’ve done the initial research you can use the links to find out more. The key ingredient is the “traffic” you’ll hopefully generate with your product and/or service.
Read: Link Building for Local SEO

SEO and Building Authority

 

Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is the “glue” that holds your website together. Using the right keywords, having the right content and making sure your brand is on target for your audience will help you build your website. At this stage you should have a general idea of where you want to target your product and/or service to and the ins and outs of your product and/or service. The more information you can get, the better able you will be able to create the perfect website. What you don’t want to do is “stuff keywords” this is not only ignored by search engines, users won’t appreciate badly written copy.

Taking the time to do your initial survey, looking at existing citations, and following through with existing links will give you a better idea of what you need to do to build your website.

Make use of Structured Data on your site

<script type="application/ld+json">
   {
  	"@context": "http://schema.org",
  	"@type": "LocalBusiness",
  	"address": {
    "@type": "PostalAddress",
    "addressLocality": "Corby",
    "addressRegion": "Northamptonshire",
    "postalCode":"NN17 1EZ",
    "streetAddress": "6 Regal Close"
  	},
  	"description": "Online Ownership is a results driven, ethical SEO and online marketing consultancy",
  	"name": "Online Ownership",
  	"telephone": "01536 269 657",
  	"email": "info@onlineowership.com",
    "url": "http://onlineownership.com",
  				
  	"sameAs" : [ "https://plus.google.com/+OnlineownershipUK",
    "https://twitter.com/GuideTwit",
    "https://uk.linkedin.com/in/tcapper"]
   }
</script>

 

Local Reviews

 

Reviews can help you at any stage of your business. When you are first starting out, you need to remember that negative reviews stick out like sore thumbs, take the time to respond and manage reviews.

Good reviews however will draw people to your business. So how do you make sure your brand hasn’t been tarnished? It is important to make sure any data you place on your website and any other material is consistent and accurate. You need to check periodically through all the major social media channels that your message hasn’t be twisted. This can happen.

Home Service Individual Reviews

 

 

There are many review sites that you may want to consider while contemplating where you want to take your business. Google Local Business, Facebook are the most popular with Yelp and Yahoo a close second. Customers look for accessible location, products and/or services and good customer service. You can get good ideas by reading reviews of similar products. It is also a good way to gauge your competition.

Reviews can be good or bad drivers for your business. It is up to you to encourage the good reviews, and not sweat the bad ones. If you are careful in making sure your company rectifies issues quickly, are honest in all your dealings and provide consistently good customer service.

 

Behavioral Signals

 

Customer behavior often is directed in one of two ways. They click through pages quickly to get through the information or they dwell on one or two pages. For those who click through pages quickly, they are mostly looking for something that will catch their eye. They may also just be searching for a particular product and/or service and haven’t found it yet. Your job is to make the product and/or service easily accessible. A fast click through rate means that your customers are not getting your message. On the other hand if they dwell on a page then they may have found what they are looking for and are contemplating making a purchase.

The one thing you need to remember is that if they can’t find the product and/or service they are looking for, then they will move on. You’ve heard it said that location is important. That’s true. When you are first in the market searching for a “niche” for your business, you need to do an analysis of the area you plan to start your business.

What are your strengths and how can you capitalize on them to draw customers to your store and/or website?

 

Local Search Online

 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, what weaknesses do you foresee happening? Customer behavior can dictate how well your business will do. It also drives customers to your website. Understanding your customers’ needs first will go a long way to satisfying their needs and will make it easier for you to be a success at your business. It goes without saying that if you clearly state your product and/or service, you do what you say you will do and you are consistent in delivering your goods and/or services, you will garner a good reputation.

Personalisation Factors

 

This is almost as important, if not more important than having a well optimised website. Everyone likes the personal touch. This is becoming harder and harder to get as more and more companies either move most of their operations overseas or become so involved in the online world that they forget there is a physical world out there. When you are first contemplating starting an online business, especially in a physical location, there are a number of factors you must consider. The first was mentioned earlier and that is location. You don’t want to place a coffee shop in an area where there is no foot traffic. Likewise you don’t want to place your website link on an automotive industry site when your target audience is the arts and entertainment industry.

The second factor is the community where you plan to start your business. If the community focus is more on family oriented activities and less on single activities, you may want to rethink your idea of having a single bar in the community. Online communities can be a great resource for you as well. You can target the communities that show an interest in similar products and/or services quite easily. Establishing your company’s name will be a long process, but definitely worthwhile.

 

social and personalising your online business

 

Making your company known to your community can be difficult when you haven’t done an initial survey of community members. You need to gauge what will attract people to your business and address what needs they may have. If you can focus exclusively on how your product and/or service will fulfill a need in the community, then you will be one step ahead of those who don’t do this necessary research. In the online world, local algorithms such as the Pigeon algorithms, help target localized markets. For example, a person may type in “Bakeries near Peoria, IL” and on the first seven results see bakeries in Peoria and the surrounding area. Google My Business or GMB is another way to connect your customers online to your business. The more specific you can get with your keywords, the better chance you’ll get at being noticed.

As you get more involved in the research, you’ll probably notice that a lot of the local search factors have some connection to each other. You really can’t move forward without any information or resources at your disposal. The top three search engines, BING, YAHOO! And GOOGLE have common algorithms in that they can focus on localized searches as well as wide open ended searches. You also have the option of focusing on a specific industry search site such as Open Table. When you feel ready enough to start creating your website and/or have your product ready to sell, then you need to look for the balance between the social media sites and the industry sites. What you may want to consider is what social media sites are you going to promote your business on and how you are going to promote your business offline. Community events and charity events are perfect venues for both promoting your new business to the community and giving back to help the community.

Social Media Marketing

The question you may be asking yourself right now is how I get my business to “jump” in front of people’s eyes. This is where the Wow factor comes in. You have to have a solid clean website that has accurate and accessible information, a directional map, interactive menus and/or a way to connect with you and a way to get your product and/or service.

 

Five main components of building an Online Business:

 

  1. The initial research and brainstorming: In this phase you are looking at existing citations, recommendations, reviews and other materials to see if your idea fits in the marketplace.
  2.  Networking and surveys: In this phase you will begin networking with others in your chosen industry to gauge if your idea will “fly” or not. You can at this stage also garner support from mentors who have “walked this path before” and know what they are doing. This is also a good time to do surveys to gauge interest in your idea. Your mentors will be a valuable resource for recommendations and citations of your own.
  3. Location and directional searches: Once you have a sense of what your customer needs, you can then work on finding either a physical address and/or an online local address. While there are many directional online search algorithms such as local.com, you may or may not want to narrow your business’s focus even further to target a certain clientele. Location is also important in a physical sense. You need to be careful in where you open your business so that it aligns with and doesn’t distract from other businesses in the area.
  4. Supply and demand: Once you are fully committed to selling your product and/or service, it is prudent to make sure that your customer is satisfied with your product and/service. You need to be aware that issues happen and have a plan to help the customer get satisfaction. Remember a bad review can haunt you. Here’s when you can fully utilize review sites and search engines to maximize your sales. Yelp, Manta and YP are the main review pages you should be focusing on to promote your business.
  5. The end game: Every business should have what I call an end game. These are the results you gathered from all your research and have put into practice in running your business. In order for your business to success and thrive, you must prepare for any contingencies such as a natural disaster or a data breach. Your goal should be to maintain your business and keep your customers happy. A prudent business person will have all “their ducks in a row” before starting their business.

 

Finally you should keep in mind that the local search community is geared towards helping local businesses succeed. A good online community can help your business succeed online with good advice and mentoring.

Going it alone is a bad idea. Prudent businessmen and women use all the resources available to help them succeed. You may also consider joining your local business organization and/or chamber of commerce as they have many resources both online and offline to help you.

Here’s to Your Success!

 

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