Monday, June 11, 2012

Webmaster Academy: Connecting with Local Customers

If you’re looking to get found on Google, there’s a good chance your business isn’t just a website, but also a location. 20% of searches on Google are related to location, and 97% of consumers search online for local businesses. Lots of small businesses are looking to the web to boost the visibility of their brick and mortar establishments. We’ll outline a few essential steps to getting started.

It’s important that your business has its own website. Your website should include all the essential information potential and current customers would want to know about your business, such as your history, loyalty programs, unique events, or staff information.

Having a presence on social media is another great way to reach your local community. Social media allows you to engage with your customer base by sharing timely announcements and promotions, listening and responding to customer feedback, and giving customers an easy way to recommend your business to their friends.

A great place to start is with Google’s social network, Google+. With a Google+ business or brand page, you can share all types of information and content with customers, allow them to “+1” your business, and even video chat face-to-face with groups using a Google+ Hangout.

You can also use Google Places for Business to ensure that your business is easily discoverable online. Simply create a free listing for your business, or verify the existing listing already available. That way, when a potential customer searches on Google, Google Maps or Google Maps for Mobile with a phrase related to your service -- for example, [san francisco mexican restaurant] -- they’ll quickly be able to find the most accurate information right in the results. See this video for more info on Google Places:

Your website and Google+ pages are great ways to represent your local business online. If you’re looking for more ideas, the Webmaster Academy has additional information about how to connect with customers online. In next week's blog post, we'll discuss best practices for optimizing your site's discoverability and performance.

Posted by Garen Checkley, Search Quality Team

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