Make Sure YOU
are Found Locally

Why Buy Locally? Research shows that:

  • For every $100 spent in local, independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures.
  • If you spend the same in national stores, $43 stays locally.
  • If you spend the same on the Internet, $0 stays locally.

Support local businesses!

Get Your Business Online

All businesses need to have a website - even if you don't sell online. It's like having a telephone. Various studies show:

  • Websites establish credibility: 80% of journalists say that a business without a website is less credible.
  • Websites are essential for visibility. 97% of consumers look online before purchasing.
  • Websites provide a system for customer feedback. Google +, Yelp, and others give your customers opportunities to complain and complement you. You need to participate in this communication.
  • Websites are the cheapest, most effective way to expand your market beyond the people you know and who drive by your business.

There are four essentials that you need to include:

  1. Who you are
  2. What you do
  3. How to buy from you
  4. How to contact you

Plus you need pictures or a video sharing your story.

Ready to go?

Get Your Business Online provides a free website and domain name for a year plus training to help small businesses get online. The program is sponsored by Intuit and Google, as well as non-profit business organizations across the US. You can get a free website and domain name for a year, but after that there will be a monthly charge. Because of that, you are asked to provide your credit card when you sign up for this program.

At the end of the year, you can move your domain and your website to any host that you choose. Most website hosts have design templates that you can use, so you can put a website together in a few hours. This is fine for just starting out, but after you use the website for a year and know how you want to use your website, consider hiring someone to customize your website and match the website to your other marketing materials.

You can also use the training on this website and set up your website and domain name with another company (for a fee).

We also have more resources to getting your business online in the Marketing and Selling section of the Tools.

Add your business listing to Google Places

Google Places is a free program that allows businesses to put their information online, including their location, pictures, and business hours. Businesses that participate in Google Places appear on Google searches at the top of the search engine results. People who have Google accounts are able to give feedback - both positive and negative - about your business.

Participating in Google Places is one of the key ways that you can be visible in your community.

Here is a link for information and to sign up: Google Places.

Can search engines find your website?

Sometimes we forget that search engines can't see - and they don't think very well either. Search engines can't see images and can only figure out what your website is about if you leave it the proper clues. These include:

  • Choosing keywords that match what each page is about
  • Putting those keywords in the title, the description and keywords part of your hidden website
  • Using those keywords to name your images and your webpages

University of Minnesota Extension has an online seminar to help you improve your ranking on Google search. Click here for Getting high on Google (Basics of SEO).

Click here to go to a video showing you how to make sure search engines can find your website.

Be visible: Get on YouTube!

More than 25% of all online searches are on YouTube. Can people find you there? If not, you are missing a great source of free advertising. Google owns YouTube, so if you post videos on YouTube, your Google rankings will probably improve.

But before you go rushing to create a video and post it on YouTube:

  1. Take time to identify who you are trying to reach and what they are interested in.
  2. Look for existing videos on YouTube that are in your industry. Look at the ones with many responses and try to determine what makes that video more successful.
    • This research will pay off later. Once you have a video, you can go back to these videos and post your video as a response to them.
    • This will automatically connect your video to theirs, so that you can benefit from their traffic.
  3. Look at videos OUTSIDE your industry. Your target market has other interests that you may be able to use in your video.
  4. If your video relates to other industries, you can post your video as a response and your video will automatically connect to theirs.
  5. In general, a YouTube video will not generate a direct sale, but it will encourage people to take the next step to find out more about you. Therefore, it is critical that you include a next step for the viewer (call-to-action). Ask them to:
    • Rate your video.
    • Follow you on Twitter and Facebook
    • Embed the video on their Facebook or webpage
    • Post comments
    • Share the video with friends.
    • Visit your webpage
  6. Use keywords and your website in the video description. Search engines can't find you, if you don't give them information about what the video is about.
  7. Once you have posted your video, create a playlist. Find similar videos from others and put them together. This makes your business part of something bigger.
  8. Connect your YouTube video with all your other promotion: on your website, emails, Facebook, Linked-In, blogs, etc.

Most popular videos on Facebook are not professionally done. But they are interesting, entertaining, unique, or informative. You can use a SmartPhone or video camera to create the video, and then edit it using your favorite video editor.

Make sure your business is found on GPS systems

If you want to be found, your business must be on GPS products and software. There are three companies that provide services to GPS (Global positioning system) software and products: Reference USA, Navtek and Teleatlas. You can register your business in each of these for free.

Register your business location with Reference USA

Register your business location with Navtek

Register your business location with Teleatlas

Make it easy for someone to LIKE and +1 your business

Facebook has a LIKE program where you can add a button to your website OR to your Facebook page so customers or website visitors can recommend your business to their friends. The person who clicks on your LIKE button must have an account with Facebook.

+1 is a program from Google that lets people support your business. The person who adds a +1 to your website must have a Google account - such as a google email account - but these accounts are free. You (the business) must register with Google Place. Click here for more information about Google Place.

You can make it easy for people to support your business by providing a LIKE button and a +1 on your website.

Click here for an article with more information on how to get more likes on your facebook page.

Encourage customers to use Google Review and Yelp

Customers are talking about your business - and it is your job to help manage that conversation. Today, people can easily share their opinion about your business using Google Review and Yelp. Your goal is to make sure there are lots of positive opinions on both systems.

Google Review: Anyone can add a Google Review to a business that participates in the Google Places program. The reviewer must have a Google account - such as a gmail email account - but those accounts are free. Businesses that receive a review are free to respond to the reviewer - but getting reviews removed from Google is difficult, if not impossible.

Yelp is an independent review site where people can put negative or positive comments about a business.

Businesses with customer reviews generally are posted higher in the search engine results than businesses without customer reviews. So, it is important that you encourage your happy customers to give you good reviews - and that you respond to negative reviews with an explanation or indication that you have heard their concerns and are addressing them.

Click here for an article on how to use these programs.