To start, search Google for phrases that might be used by potential customers. Try searching for:
- Your business name
- Your business name and your town name
- Your business type (eg “plumber”) plus your town
- Relevant product or service and your location, for example “Wedding Cakes in Wigan”)
Then analyse the results. You’ll see a combination of paid results (marked “Ads”, which may be at the top and down the right-hand side) and ordinary results.
Is your business there for all searches” What sort of sites are there instead ?
Depending on your business and the search you tried, you may see a combination of individual sites, for example national directories or specialist directories.
You may see results marked “places”, and even a map showing local relevant businesses.
The last of these is important. Google will publish entries for validated local businesses ahead of entries from national directories.
Make sure you have an entry there: go to the Google Places site and follow the instructions under “Get your business found on Google”.
Next, look at the directories that you find in search results, and make sure that your business is listed with them. If your entry isn’t accurate, some directories will allow you to add or edit your business details.
For example, our websites (192.com and BizBuzz.com) allows you to add details of your business which appear on both sites.
It’s also worth ensuring that you’re well represented in specialist directories for your industry: if you run a B&B, reviews on TripAdvisor will work wonders. You should encourage your customers to write reviews – don’t do it yourself!”
Don’t pay for inclusion or “premium” status in specialist directories. There are lots of places to get listed for free.
In relation to online marketing, don’t spend money unless you are very sure that you’re going to see a return on it.
If you’re trying to carry out transactions online, you don’t need to create a website that will take credit cards. Consider selling via other established online merchants. For example, eBay allows you set up your own online “shop” within eBay itself.
This is a great way to judge demand for your products and put them in front of a large audience without building and paying for your own website.
Alastair Crawford is CEO and founder of 192.com.