Rome wasn’t built in a day—and neither was any great local business’ online presence. That’s because establishing a solid an online presence requires copious amounts of time, effort, research, creativity, and patience.

We’ve found that many businesses would love to improve their local business marketing efforts but don’t have the faintest idea of where to begin. Luckily, there are a few initial steps that businesses can take that will instantly improve online visibility as well as ensure that they can be easily found by those who are looking for them.

While search engine optimization (SEO) and ranking highly for local keywords are excellent long-term goals, it may be many months until the impact of these efforts are seen (not to mention the amount of initial groundwork required to set these goals in motion). While you’re in the process of achieving your long-term goals, take these smaller first steps to improving your online presence.

  1. Get Listed in Appropriate Directories

The first and perhaps most important step that you can take is to make sure that your business can be found in directories around the web. A great deal of customers find local businesses by using resources like Google Maps and Yelp, and you should ensure that your business is present in these directories. Some businesses should also consider special membership directories like Angie’s List. Each directory has its own rules that affect whether your business can get a listing, but by following a few simple steps your business can be listed on dozens of the top directories around the web and start sending customers your way.

  1. Create High Quality Content that Your Customers Want to Read

What kind of questions do your customers usually ask your company when they begin engaging with you? What do they want to know about your business, product and/or industry? The answers to these questions are great starting points for starting to craft high quality content that your customers and audience will enjoy. Quality content achieves multiple things including, but not limited to, establishing your company as a reliable thought leader, addressing potential customers’ questions and comments, and presenting information relevant to your specific product or service that is engaging and valuable (and that will be found through search engines).

  1. Network with Local Industry Organizations

One of the best ways to get noticed online is to be linked to prominent authority figures in your local industry. By doing simple things like joining your local chamber of commerce and networking with companies that may have an interest in promoting your services, you set yourself up to be recommended by others and therefore drive a great deal of traffic toward your business and website.

  1. Be Active on Social Media

Even if you don’t think your business would generate a lot of buzz or interest on social media, it’s important to have a solid social media presence for several reasons. For one, it helps contribute to the overall goal of improving SEO by promoting links that trace back to your website. Plus, it helps with overall brand awareness. But beyond that, being active on social media shows customers that your business is up to date and actively looking to improve the experience of its customers by offering another medium for communication.

  1. Your Print Marketing Efforts Should Complement your Online Efforts

Are you listing your website and social media handles on your print marketing materials? If not, you absolutely should be. There is likely a large percentage of your customers that would prefer to interact with your business through the web and you should strive to ensure that you make it easy for them to do so.

  1. Encourage Reviews from Customers

Along with connecting your print and online marketing materials, make a point to actively encourage your customers to write reviews about your business online. Customer reviews not only help with search rankings and SEO, they also give feedback you can use to make your business better. Plus, online reviews enhance your organization’s credibility in the eyes of future customers.

  1. Respond Publicly to Complaints

No business is immune to bad reviews. When you do receive one, it is important that you take the opportunity to use the public forum to respond to the complaint and rectify any issues that they might have with your company.

If you would like to learn more about how you can improve your local business marketing and connect with a wider audience, contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with our marketing experts.