It doesn’t hurt to dream big. Imagining everyone from Xanadu to the Outer Hebrides browsing through your site isn’t ridiculous. It’s positive. And, it’s completely natural. We all imagine what would happen when our babies learn to fly. But, in your fantasies of a global takeover, is your website reaching the local area?
There is an almost amusing irony here. Despite the wonderful worldwide web’s reaching capabilities, marketing to your next-door neighbour seems to be a challenge.
For some businesses this isn’t necessarily a problem, but there are a lot of businesses that would benefit greatly from a presence in their local area. It might not benefit a plumber from Peckham to have a rampant Rwandan audience for example. In fact, websites that represent bricks and mortar stores, businesses with limited delivery area, or tradespersons need to be geared towards serving their immediate locale.
So, how do you ensure your website is reaching the locals?
All great adventures begin with SEO
We are all aware of SEO. It doesn’t need a canned introduction. We know that if we want to be found on the internet, whether it be by Google or Bing, then SEO is paramount to success. However, it might shock you at how often there are problems. Even basic geotagging in the metadata is often over looked.
As Joshua Hardwick eloquently points out, “there are two distinct sets of search results” when someone performs a local search on Google. There are the organic results. But, above them, there are also the “snack pack” results. Don’t know what I mean?
Then search: “restaurants near me”.
The top section. That’s your snack pack. Those attractive pictures, next to all those stars, and a map pointing straight at you. Why wouldn’t you want to be there? Saying that, since 40% of clicks actually go to the organic results, why wouldn’t you want to be there either?
If you are unable to properly optimise your site for SEO then outsource. It is worth the money.
Landmarks and local trust marks
Having a page saying “Hey I am from Northampton” isn’t enough to sell yourself to the local area. Many local businesses are proud institutions in a community they adore. These are the people that would easily become an advocate for you local brand. So it is best to start speaking their language.
By that I don’t suggest entire paragraphs in Irvine Welsh style phonetics and every sentence ending with “y’know wha’ I mean?’ Use the website to celebrate parts of the community that they will recognise. Local landmarks, or heroes draw a lot of traffic to websites.
Use names and logos that mean something to the people of your local area.
Create local content for local people
Similar to the previous point, your content needs to be localised. Writing in superb English with all the participles un-dangled, and your commas all Oxford-ed is lovely and all; but it doesn’t say local. It is an argument I have made before. It is important that you are speaking your customers language.
If you happen to slip into mild local slang, that isn’t going to do you any harm. Be aware, however, that if your website is written for a slightly wider area than just your town, it is best not to make the language indiscernible from gibberish.
Let the community decide
I wonder what would happen if, when I had finished my website, I went on Facebook and wrote something this:
“Hey y’all, just finished my website! Anyone fancy looking at it. I want it to have a local feel.”
Prediction. Loads of people will leave thumbs-up or hearts, a few people will share, and a good many people will comment.
You see, people like to be helpful. At least in the public forum, and especially when you have offered them the opportunity to give criticism and feedback. The bonus of this is, you have instantly attracted people to your website and begun to appeal to your local area.
And immediately they will feel part of it too.
As the introduction alludes, this might not be entirely appropriate for your eCommerce conglomerate that has aeroplanes humming on the landing strips ready. It might not even be applicable if you are sending products via email, in the form of voucher or software. But it doesn’t hurt to think about your local area.
Surprisingly enough, a lot of people do care about where a business is from. I, for one, am asked all the time. Sometimes it is just for customers to try and find some common ground whilst they are talking to us, let us know that “oh yeah – I drove through it once”.
For small businesses they probably feel more connected to their local area, and your focus on the “local” may just increase your website enquiries.