Positioning Brands For Success™
Marketing Your Local Business: Make Sure Potential Customers Can Find You
By F. Warren Elish
It is so common today to see local businesses of all types focusing on social
media and generating “likes” for their business on their Facebook page,
followers for their business on LinkedIn or Twitter and forgetting all about
optimizing their primary on-line vehicle, their website. And when they do
think about their website, they are worrying about what the website looks like
and not on how it performs.
If you have a local business and are trying to generate new customers, patients
or guests, it will be difficult to do so if they don't know you exist, know
little or nothing about you, have no idea where you are located or how they
might do business with you.
Building a properly developed website is of critical importance to
establishing an on-line presence and should be your primary area of focus.
Here are 12 tips on developing a website that performs -- where you will be
on the first page of relevant searches and in many cases at the top of the
Set objectives for what you want your website to accomplish
While it is important how your website looks, it is even more important how
it works. I hope the objective is not to “look cool” (or something like that),
but rather to allow people looking for your type of goods or services to easily
find you and learn something about your business and how you can help them.
Develop a strategy for your message
Your communication strategy should link directly to your
brand positioning. Your target audience should be able to relate
easily to your website and understand what business you are in and what your
point of difference from your competition is. You must also identify what
specific web pages are appropriate and needed to implement your strategy.
Start with a powerful domain name for your type of business and geographic
location (and it is not usually the name of your business)
Select a domain name that combines the business you are in, your geographical
area and an adjective that people would use when conducting their search. For
example, if you were a dentist in New York or an Italian restaurant in
Alpharetta, effective domain names might be NewYorksBestDentist.com and
Use a design platform that is not proprietary to the company that builds
You want the freedom to be able to move your site hosting and development
wherever and whenever you desire, and you should be able to make simple updates
and enhancements to your site by yourself. WordPress is a great free
platform to consider
Build the website around Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Define search terms (combinations of words) that you think someone looking
for your business would type into his or her search browser. Then develop unique
META (title, description and keywords) for each page of the site. Make sure to
follow a strict character count for each; too many will negatively affect your
Integrate Social Media into your website
Design Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, and a blog into your site when
applicable and when it fits comfortably. Remember that if you integrate with a
social source, you need to have a presence on a regular basis to be relevant.
And make sure your employees are aware of and engaged with your social efforts.
Build your website to be mobile and tablet friendly (across platforms)
Make sure people can use your site no matter where and how they link to the
Generate online reviews and link them to your website
Ask current customers, patients and guests to write reviews for your
business. Postings to Google Places and other local review sites will boost your
search ranking. Offer easy links to these different review sites within your own
website and boost your ranking even further.
Establish yourself with Google Places
Make sure you sign your business up with Google Places (which will become
linked to your site).
Optimize before going live and posting your website
Don't trust a company developing your site that tells you once the site
“looks good” to go live and post your site and then they will work on content,
META, SEO optimization etc. Optimize everything before going live.
Keep your website current
Once you launch your site, your work is not over. Good sites that rank high
constantly enhance their content and coding.
Track and learn from your website
Be sure to use some form of analytics tracking built into each page of your
site. Google Analytics is a great free option. If you have a business that
generates call inquiries or requires reservations or appointments, utilize a
unique phone tracking number on your website that will allow you to track
responses accurately. You can even have the calls, forwarded from this unique
tracking number, recorded for training purposes.
F. Warren Ellish is the Founder, President and CEO of
Ellish Marketing Group, a leading
authority on brand positioning and marketing consulting to restaurants,
franchises, dental practices, retailers and consumer products companies. He is a
senior marketing executive with over 30 years of client and consulting
experience. Ellish is a renowned practitioner, lecturer and speaker on brand
positioning and is a member of the marketing faculty at Cornell University’s
Johnson Graduate School of Management. Ellish was named to the Advertising Age
”Marketing 100 – the superstars of US marketing”. Warren can be reached at