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Small, independently owned shops, almost by definition, rely on tighter teams and target smaller markets while providing often niche products or services. And small they may be, but mom-and-pop operations can be mighty: They often bring a family legacy to their customers, along with close customer service — experiences not easily found in larger commercial sectors.If you run such a shop, it’s common to rely on local foot traffic and targeted social media for much of your marketing efforts. Fortunately, both of these channels benefit from good search engine optimization practices.1. Optimize your Google Business ProfileYour Google Business Profile is a prime piece of virtual real estate, and it’s free. Simply sign up using an existing Google account and either claim an existing listing or create a new one. Once you can access your profile, you can optimize it to attract local customers — people looking for products/services online and those interested in visiting a physical location. A well-executed one will attract more organic traffic, phone calls, leads and, ultimately, more customers.
Related: How PR and SEO Can Converge to Supercharge Your Online ExposureA few optimization essentials:
Be sure to fill out every part of the profile, including business name, address, phone number and hours of operation (all information should be consistent with what’s on your website and other online listings).Choose the most accurate category to describe your enterprise, and add relevant attributes regarding other important details.Consider including high-quality photos or videos of the physical space and products or services. Profiles with photos receive more clicks and calls.Solicit more Google reviews: Encourage customers to leave comments on your profile. Not only does this improve engagement, but it also sends positive SEO signals to Google, meaning potentially higher search results placement.List services or products, including detailed descriptions and pricing.Incorporate booking and/or reservations: If your business takes appointments, integrate booking options (such as Calendly).Keep information updated: Make sure to update your profile to reflect any changes in hours, contact information, services, etc.2. Create localized contentMost small businesses target a specific geographic area — whether they realize it or not. With that in mind, it’s wise to have regionally specific website content to attract relevant traffic, including keywords indicating a particular service area. Consider, for example, geo-specific terms that describe your company, then validate that they receive actual search volume (using a tool like Semrush) and apply them on site pages (including titles and descriptions) according to on-page SEO best practices.Related: 4 Ways to Win at Local Content Marketing3. Placement in local directoriesThere are, of course, other online listings and resources that can earn you organic traffic. These include (but are not limited to) Bing Places for Business, Yelp, The Real Yellow Pages (aka YP), Better Business Bureau, Foursquare and MerchantCircle. You might also find directories specific to your service area, such as the local chamber of commerce.In the process, avoid spammy directories, which can be vehicles for unauthorized/unwanted traffic, including malware. These are often characterized by outdated web design, overwhelming pop-up ads, promises for “links” in exchange for a fee and a lack of moderation.
4. Social media “check-ins”You might not consider Instagram a “local” platform, but with its location-tagging feature, it can be! By encouraging customers to “check in” on social media, you can attract potential customers from the area and/or gain more likes or follows, both valuable assets. Any business can benefit from such efforts, especially smaller ones that depend on limited traffic.One creative way to encourage customers to engage is by creating an on-site Instagrammable spot or some other kind of selfie station. Ask visitors to tag your location and include a photo with their posts.Related: 5 Reasons Why Your Brand Needs a Strong Social Media Presence5. YouTube marketingThis video colossus has more than two billion users, and just like most other online platforms, people use keywords to search it. You can boost YouTube’s organic reach to your company by posting engaging content that provides true value. With the right optimization, it will generate hundreds to thousands of new views and new customers. Concepts could include the story of your business’s foundation, testimonials from happy customers, product demonstrations and tutorials, local events or Q&A sessions with other business owners or thought leaders.