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ONLINE LOCAL AREA MARKETING ESSENTIALS

Local Area Marketing (LAM) involves identifying and implementing marketing opportunities in local communities by engaging positively with individuals, groups, organisations, businesses and local media.

Three of the best local area marketing techniques to increase traffic to your website, improve search rankings and increase your online generated enquiries are:

  1. List your business on Google My Business
  2. List your business on online business directories
  3. Engage in online business forums

First of all, gather the following information into one document:

  • 2-3 Business listing titles
  • Business contact email address
  • Business phone number
  • Unique website address/landing page
  • Social media links
  • 2-3 unique business descriptions (Typically 200 words max)
  • Square logo image (300px is best viewed on most websites)
  • 5 business related images
  • Business ABN

Having this data on hand to copy information will make the process much faster.

“Google My Business” Listings

Google local business listings can appear in 3 places in the search results for Google: in Google Maps, in Google+ and within the organic Google search results. If your business previously set up a Google+ account or listed your business on Google Places, then you won’t need to follow any of these steps as Google would have automatically upgraded your account to Google My Business. If you have not set up any Google products then this Google My Business guide will help you get your business listed on Google.

Step 1: Head over to the Google My Business website

To start using the Google My Business tools you need to either have an existing Google account or sign up for one. Once you have your Google account set up you need to register on the Google My Business website. You can click on either of the Get on Google registration links to get your Google My Business account set up.

Step 2: Get your business listed on Google (local businesses only)

Once you have clicked on the “Get on Google” tab you will be directed to a full screen map page. This is the page where you will list your business on Google Maps. You will need to complete a quick search for your business name to see if your business is already listed. If your business is not listed then you can select the option “None of these match” at the bottom of the results. If you click on that option you will be directed to step number 3.

Step 3: Complete your business information

Once you have searched Google My Business for your business listing and not got any results and clicked on the “None of these match” link then you get directed to this page where you need to complete all your business information. Once you have added all your information click “continue” to carry on with the registration process.

Step 4: Verify your business and add a Google+ page

Once you have added all your business information from step 3 and clicked “continue” you will need to verify that you are the owner of the business and that all the information you have provided is accurate. You will receive a verification code via mail that Google will send to you. It is important to note that you will not be able to make any edits to your listing until your listing on Google My Business is verified. You can, however, continue setting up your profile by selecting “continue and verify later” option that will allow you to set up your Google+ page.

Business Directories

Adding a listing of your website page will help you to get found online. Navigate to the following online directories and look for the “List your business” links :

Don’t forget to ask your clients to give a review of your product or service on the directories!

The Pigeon Update of 2014 completely overhauled the way local search works. Rather than relying almost exclusively on traditional search factors like onsite content and offsite link profiles, Google now scours the web for local directory websites like Yelp to determine the average rating and user reviews of local businesses, which it uses when determining rank. Sites with a high quantity of positive reviews rank much higher than sites with negative reviews or a low quantity of ratings.

Business Forums

Forum marketing is a great way to make your business stand out from the crowd. Forum marketing is a high ROI strategy because making a good impression in front of this savvy and influential audience can help your marketing message spread far and wide. Follow this step-by-step guide to effectively use forum marketing as a part of your overall local marketing strategy:

  1. Find the right forums

    Not all forums are worth your time. Successful forum marketing means finding the right community for your business. Look for popular forums that cover your niche topic. Start by asking your employees, suppliers, and customers which online communities they hang out in. Narrow your list to 5-10 forums that will be worth your time using the following criteria:

    • Look for forums that have at least 1,000 members and 10,000 posts.
    • Make sure the forum gets at least ten to fifteen new posts on a daily basis.
    • Ignore forums that are overrun by spam.
    • Avoid forums hosted by your direct competitors.
  2. Create an account as soon as possible

    Seniority is important in forum communities. Users with older registration dates are given more deference than newer users. Some forums even prevent new users from posting for the first few days after their initial registration. Given the tremendous advantage of early registration, you should create your forum accounts as soon as possible.

  3. Check the user agreement and posting guidelines

    During the registration process you will be asked to agree to the forum’s user agreement and posting guidelines. Read these rules and guidelines carefully. There is a lot of boilerplate legal language in these documents, so it is tempting to just skip over them and click yes without reading. However, many forums have unique guidelines that you need to pay attention to. Some of the most important issues to look for include:

    • Are users allowed to place links in their posts?
    • Are users allowed to promote their own businesses?
    • Are users allowed to post commercial messages in their signatures?
    • Are users allowed to contact other members for commercial purposes?
    • What restrictions are placed on new users?
    • What special privileges are given to veteran users?
  4. Pick a good user name and avatar

    Your user name and avatar are the first things other users will notice about you. Pick a user name that is easy to remember and pronounce. Using your real name might be appropriate and if so a good head shot of yourself makes the best avatar.

  5. Introduce yourself

    Many forums encourage new users to introduce themselves to the community by making an introductory post. Your introductory post should include a brief description of your expertise and an explanation of why you joined the forum. Let the other users know that your main goal is to contribute to and learn from the community. Do not make any marketing pitches in your first post. If you try to sell anything in your first post you will very likely get banned.

  6. Make valuable contributions to the community

    This is the key to successful forum marketing. Whenever anyone asks a question related to your products or services, dazzle them with incredibly useful answers. Leave out your sales pitch in the beginning. Any hint of bias in your initial posts will erase all your hard work. By keeping your answers objective, the entire community will start thinking of you as a trusted expert.

  7. Put your website’s address in your signature

    Forum signatures are blocks of text or graphic that are attached to the end of all your posts. Some forums also allow users to use signatures to promote their own websites. If you are in a forum that allows self-promotional signatures, make sure you take full advantage of this opportunity.

  8. Create win-win marketing campaigns

    Once you have the respect of the users you can start more aggressive marketing, actually suggesting your products or services in response to questions asked in threads. Focus on marketing techniques that provide a benefit for the forum community. For example, offer the forum members special discounts, free samples, or fun contests. Be sure to get the permission of the forum’s moderators before you start these campaigns.

Suggested Online Business Forums
  1. ANZ’s Small Business Hub: http://www.thesbhub.com.au/

    A new site by leading financial institution ANZ specifically for small businesses.

  2. Flying Solo: http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums/

    An Australian site dedicated to small businesses.

  3. Optus’ Biz Think Tank: http://www.bizthinktank.com.au/

    Edited by leading Australian journalist Peter Switzer, this site has plenty of high value insights for small businesses.

  4. Quora http://www.quora.com/Australia

    Quora allows you to ask questions and receive answers from anyone in the Quora community. There are plenty of small business questions featured, and you can search through the archive of existing questions as well as asking your own.

  5. LinkedIn Groups: linkedin.com/directory/groups

    LinkedIn is the biggest professional online forum: everyone you know is likely to be on there. Make LinkedIn more useful by seeking out groups that relate to your area of business and engaging with this groups where appropriate. Some really active groups include: