Many local retailers take the attitude that since they’re not selling online, there’s no reason to market online. Nothing could be further from the truth. Regardless of your business, people rely on information they find online (the web, social media, search engine results, recommendation sites, etc.) This is true in all but the smallest of markets.
Think about it this way: for most of us, a general, national search for “wine shop” isn’t going to yield nearly the level of qualified traffic as a local search like, for example, “wine shop Rhinebeck NY.”
Here are a few factors that influence your local search results and what you can do to optimize your results there. [level-members]
Google Places is the single most important local search venue at this point, so be sure that you’ve claimed your page and have it updated with all the appropriate information. Google offers help to business owners just getting started with Places.
On your own website, be sure that your NAP is showing. NAP stands for name, address and phone number. This is the number 1 most searched-for information for retail businesses. It should be prominently available on all pages of your site. Don’t make people go searching for it.
Pay attention to your 3rd-party listings – the review sites like Yelp, of course, but also listing/directory sites like YellowPages.com. (This does NOT mean you have to pay for the bogus “upgrades” may of these sites offer.)
As long as we’re talking about sites like Yelp, be sure to monitor them and encourage satisfied customers to contribute reviews. Respond – with restraint – to any negative reviews. You want the rest of the world to know you take customer service seriously, and you address problems appropriately.
And don’t forget social media more generally. Get involved. The online community is, for most local retailers, an extension of the local real-world community – particularly if your shop is in a smaller market.[/level-members]