By Aaron Boggs
Location, location, location. For a local business to be found before the Internet, it was all about being on main street. Today, however, you need to be found online.
Being found online by local consumers is complicated and ever changing. For your website to help consumers find you, it must first support the many virtual storefronts that exist, such as Google My Business, Yelp and Facebook.
Nearly 85% of all actions taken with a local search require a quick response:
- What is your phone number? Can I click it and call you from my smartphone?
- What is your address? Can I click to navigate to your business?
- What are people like me saying about you in online reviews?
Local consumers don’t have the time or attention span to read your bio or about page. It’s not the dot com era anymore. We consume so much information that we ignore anything we don’t absolutely need to know.
Consumers need your business’s online information to be easy to consume and visually appealing. If you can’t meet those needs, someone else will, and consumers will turn to your competitors.
Think Consumer, Not Resume
Too many websites are created using a flawed process.
Usually, a low-cost website designer is selected. (You know a person who knows a person who builds websites, right?) The developer asks questions about how you want your website to look and builds your site based on your ideas.
This is your first mistake. If you build your website around what you like rather than what the consumer needs it to do for them, your website will be an ineffective marketing tool. You may love the way your website looks, but nobody cares if you have a beautiful building in a back alley.
A website that works is one that doesn’t read like a resume or look like you hired a cheap designer. Effective websites make it all about the consumer.
Ask yourself questions such as: Why should the consumer care about my service? How can I summarize my business’s services and products so consumers can easily understand exactly what I do here? If your website’s content answers those questions in a clear, concise manner, you’re on the right track.
You Have No Plan for Developing Relationships
The consumer’s first visit to your website is just the beginning–one small step towards your business.
Sure, some customers go all the way from discovery to purchase quickly. However, the local consumer’s purchase process is a journey. While that journey starts with one small step, it encompasses so much more than that first website visit.
Consumers search on multiple devices. They read reviews and check out your business’s Facebook page, YouTube channel and blog.
How to Use Content to Build Relationships and Become a Thought Leader
Valuable content matters. You should have a balance of blog posts, tutorial videos and client success stories that relate to each stage of the purchase journey.
Create content that answers questions and solves problems. If you do this, your content will build relationships for you. Using employees (or even yourself) in video tutorials and case studies can give the consumer the feeling that they know you before they ever step inside your business.
Written descriptions for videos should restate the question you’re answering or the problem you’re solving and give a brief description of what the viewer can expect from the video. This will provide SEO value and a good user experience. Also, link to one of your blog posts about the same topic for those consumers who would rather read an article than watch a video.
All written content should include very little technical jargon. Commonly used industry terms are fine, but you don’t want to confuse the consumer and send them running to a competitor.
During the editing process, read the content as if you know nothing about your business or industry. You can also have a friend or relative read your content and tell you if they understand the message you’re trying to get across. If not, rewrite.
Search engines will find this content when they crawl your website, and you’ll be more likely to show up in relevant organic and local searches.
Not only will this type of content build relationships with consumers, but it can also help position your business as a thought leader over time. When you create content that is easily understood and informative, people will want to share it. After that, it’s only a matter of time before other industry leaders begin to read and respect your content.
Your business’s website is a crucial part of the consumer’s decision-making journey. Follow my tips and your site will be optimized for SEO, thought leadership and most importantly for the consumer.