A website is necessary if you want to reach potentially millions of customers online and around the world. But, what if you're just trying to find a few hundred or perhaps a few thousand customers down the street or across town? Websites can be equally effective in generating local customers, but the website has to be set up right to shift focus from the World Wide Web to Detroit or Ann Arbor, Michigan. Here's how to make your Michigan website easy for locals to find and engage with.
Get a Handle on Modern SEO Practices
Think of SEO as the light that guides your customers safely home to your website. Tune your website towards the content your potential customers are searching for, and they will find you.
Half a decade ago, SEO meant keyword-stuffing a website to rank well for relevant keywords. Today, SEO is much more about quality content than about keyword frequency. You can find the keywords you should be targeting by using your own website metrics or through outside sources like Google Keyword Planner or the Google Search Console. Don't neglect to build some copy to target longer-tail keywords. For example, don't stop with targeting "thrift store." Include long-tail keywords like "thrift store in Grand Rapids" and "used clothes in Grand Rapids MI". Website content should be free of spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, and generally poorly-written copy. Well-written copy that mentions a keyword three-to-four times per 500 words will almost always rank better than keyword-stuffed copy that mentions a keyword 10 times per 500 words. B2B websites may need content development services and should consult with a marketing agency that specializes in website content strategy.
Create a Mobile-Friendly Website
Mobile shoppers have now reached the same numbers as those using desktop computers to find and interact with businesses online. Responding to this demand, Google recently made some algorithm changes to give mobile shoppers easier access to websites that are friendly to mobile devices. Be sure your Michigan website features a responsive web design to deliver the best possible user experience to all devices. This won't just improve your customer experiences, it will also help you rank better on the search engines.
Register Your Michigan Website With the Search Engines
Registering your site with Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc. lets these companies know where you are. Using that information, they can recommend your business to other locals as they are hunting for products or services like yours. This isn't done in lieu of building great SEO into your website, but it is a perfect supplement. Once you have registered, other apps like Google Maps will be able to help local shoppers find you, as well. Some online indexes allow customers to post reviews, like Google My Business. This helps your loyal customers become brand ambassadors for your business.
Partner With Other Businesses
Backlinks can also improve your SEO ranking and help customers to find you. Consider partnering with other businesses in your area to provide each other with backlinks to your websites. Just be sure you're partnering with a reputable business that doesn't use any naughty or "black hat" SEO practices, because backlinking to those makes it look like you're in cahoots, and if they get blacklisted, it could hurt your ranking, as well.
Use Your Social Media
Social media is a great way to get your brand name known and generate a following. It can also give your SEO efforts a needed boost.
Often, you can get a page or landing page to rank well on social media, even when it isn't performing as well on its own. For example, share all your pages and posts on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, etc. You'll often see your article ranking well there, even when it's buried on pages two or three in an organic search.
Offer Printable Coupons or Other Local-Only Promos
If you use your website like a company portal, your customers will help drive up your website traffic, share the link with others, and improve your in-store sales. Consider offering a "coupon of the week" for customers to print from your website. Or, offer other promotions like BOGO, refer-a-friend, or anything that will get them in your doors, preferably wagging a friend or two in there with them.
Keep Track of All Your Metrics
While all of these strategies have merit, each niche is different. For example, the techniques that work brilliantly for a cute little boutique in Adrian are likely different than those that work well for a plumber in Grand Rapids, an attorney in Lansing, or a music shop in Rochester Hills. Keep track of what works best, what works so-so, and what isn't working. Then use this insight to build more success for your Michigan website in the future.
You can get started honing your SEO tactics now when you download our 10 Step SEO & Digital Marketing Guide. Check it out, then give us a call. We are here you help your business grow.