Small, local businesses have felt the biggest impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although local economies are slowly recovering, many business owners still face irreversible losses and uncertainty. Add to that the other challenges local businesses face to stay competitive in a highly saturated market.   

But even with limited resources, local businesses can still pivot and adopt low effort but high impact strategies that can boost their recovery and, eventually, their growth. 

Improve Your Local Search Optimization 

Local search engine optimization (SEO) is a method of identifying geotargeted keywords that are relevant to your business and creating website content based on them. Geotargeted keywords are basically local search terms people use to find businesses similar to yours. Examples of these search terms are best pizza in Brooklyn, pest control in Oakbrook, IL, or hair salon in Sauganash. By doing extensive keyword using tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs, you can find the most relevant keywords, as well as search terms your competitors are optimizing for. 

In addition to local SEO, consider optimizing for mobile search. This includes creating content for “near me” searches, as well as adjusting your website to make sure that it’s responsive across all mobile devices. With a mobile-friendly site and visibility in local search results, you can attract people who are actively looking for your service or product, whether they’re at home or on the move.    

Optimize for Local Business Listings

Another easy way to appear in local searches is by setting up your profile in relevant online listing websites. The most important one would be Google My Business, since it’s the most popular listing people go to when looking for nearby businesses and reviews. When optimizing your GMB profile, make sure your business information is accurate and up-to-date and that your photos are high quality and enticing. 

Other notable and free listing sites include Yelp, Trip Advisor, Bing, and social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. With a consistent presence in these popular channels, you will leave a good impression on your potential customers and offer multiple touchpoints for them to discover you and engage with you. 

Collect Reviews and Testimonials 

Star ratings, reviews, and testimonials are perhaps the most important form of advertising. Much like word-of-mouth referrals, positive feedback on your business can significantly influence people’s decision to check your business out and convert into paying customers. 

If you already have a GMB profile, give your customers a link and display this link in your website, social media profiles, packaging, and in-store features. Make sure to communicate how reviews can help your business. It’s also good to respond to reviews, as well as negative feedback so people can see you care about their experience.   

Use Your Car as Your Moving Billboard 

Traditional advertising techniques can still be useful, especially for local businesses. Consider installing  car magnetic signs with your catchiest slogan and business information. If your business has a fleet of company cars or trucks, display your brand, as well.

Moving car or mobile advertising not only spreads awareness of your business but also helps with brand recognition and recall. Chances are, people will remember your business whenever a need arises. Make sure to use fonts that are clear and pleasing to the eye and in line with your brand, and use contrasting colors that are attractive. Enlarge your motto as this is what registers with people the most. You can also include your website in the sign to drive traffic to your website.  

Take Advantage of Social Media 

Now that people are cooped up at home and are on their smartphones longer than ever, it’s the perfect opportunity to build a community of loyal followers. Nowadays, people rely on the Internet to discover businesses in their area. Choose the channels where you think you can connect with your audiences the most.

For example, if you’re targeting Gen Z and Millennials, it would be good to have a TikTok and Instagram page that focuses on videos and images. If your target market includes older adults and professionals, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn may be the best channels. You can also tap into social media influencers in your area and use their following to expand your reach, as well as other local businesses open to affiliate marketing. 

You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on paid advertising to elevate your local business. There are plenty of free tools and platforms that require minimal effort and know-how but deliver significant results. Be sure to pay attention to the trends and explore different ways to make your message come across. 

Local small business stock photo by Rido/Shutterstock