How do local businesses stand out in a world of Amazons, Office Depots, and Barnes & Nobles? By making a quality product, having an outstanding website, and learning how to master geo-specific SEO.
In a world where most people shop and purchase from their desks, even local businesses have to have a clear, compelling website in order to hook customers who might never actually enter their brick-and-mortar store. However, no local business’s website, no matter how clear, is going to be seen unless the company involved masters geo-targeting, the newest development in the SEO industry.
To geo-target, your company needs to use city-specific keywords like “Albany office furniture dealer.” Every part of your metadata needs to include your location, along with your topic: “Portland animal rescue,” “Los Angeles boutique fashion.”
Keep in mind this is only for businesses who need to specify that their services are local: if you are an online retailer selling worldwide, you do not need to include a location in your SEO. However, if you want to be top of the list for people searching local businesses, you need to make sure search engines know exactly where you are.
Here are three local businesses who combine outstanding websites with great SEO practices. How do we know this? Because when we started searching, they appeared at the top of the list.
Madison: Los Angeles, CA
If you’re in Los Angeles, you need to stay up-to-date on the latest fashions. However, you don’t have time to travel to multiple stores and try on piles of clothes. Enter Madison, a boutique designed to match you to the clothes you need as effortlessly as possible.
Madison’s website is as stylish as the fashions it sells; its carousel display shows off its latest collection, and every aspect of its design, from color scheme to typography.
The sales funnel is straightforward and easy. We’ve written before about how your sales funnel and shopping cart needs to be fully optimized in order to retain customers throughout the sales process, and Madison follows all the rules in its trademark clear, clean style. New users are offered a 10 percent coupon on their first purchase in exchange for email signup: another way to build brand loyalty while collecting customer data.
Madison works because it satisfies a specific problem in its community: how to find unique, stylish clothes that aren’t sold at mass retailers like Neiman Marcus or Bloomingdales. If you are running a local apparel business, look to Madison’s website for inspiration and guidance.
ROI Office Interiors: Albany, NY
When you first land on ROI’s website, you see a carousel of offices with sweeping lines and smooth curves. You see what is clearly high-quality office furniture, presented in classic, professional browns and neutrals. You see that ROI specifically works with businesses, universities, and healthcare organizations, and that its furniture is crafted to specifically match the vision of each individual organization.
And then you see a link to a Cutest Dog Contest.
That’s ROI in a nutshell: classic, customized, socially attuned, and not afraid to have a little fun. Because of this, businesses looking for an Albany office furniture dealer turn to ROI for specialty furniture crafted to fit their needs and their vision.
You cannot actually purchase furniture from ROI’s site – that’s not their business goal. Instead, their website sales funnel urges you to examine the glossy pictures, learn how ROI has contributed to other companies’ visions, and fill out the form to request a free space plan. The form is prominently visible but well-integrated into each ROI design page; like their furniture, it is functional, attractive and non-obtrusive.
What about that Cutest Dog Contest? It’s the little touches that set ROI apart from the rest, like inviting all website visitors – customers or not – to submit photos of their dogs. The cutest dog wins a PetCo package, but ROI wins something more important: the ability to connect with a variety of people and associate their brand with community and fun.
Family Dogs New Life: Portland, OR
Even basic services like animal rescue organizations have to use their website to stand out from the rest. Portland, Oregon has numerous no-kill shelters, humane organizations and other ways to adopt a pet into your home, but Family Dogs New Life stands out from the pack.
Other animal adoption websites simply place poorly balanced photos of the available pets against a stark white background; Family Dogs New Life integrates every aspect of its design, from the cheerful pawprints on its side panels to the customized font and logo design on its header. When you first visit Family Dogs New Life’s website, you know instantly that Family Dogs takes as good care of its pets as it does of its website, and that this is going to be a safe, quality place to find your next best friend.
Even the photos of available pets are professional and attractive – most adoption websites take quick, poorly-lit snapshots of their animals, but Family Dog invested in professional photography in what appears to be an onsite studio. Every part of their branding lets you know these animals are happy, treated well and ready to join your forever home.
What can other local brands learn from these businesses, and how do you use these sites to develop your own successful e-commerce website? Whether you are a furniture designer, a marketing consultant or a freelancer, you want people who visit your website to understand three things, right away:
- You do quality work
- You solve people’s problems
- You are fun to work with
Madison, ROI, and Family Dog nail all three categories in spades. Their quality work is the first thing website visitors see; next, they see that these businesses specifically solve problems, like selling a one-of-a-kind boot or connecting you with a one-of-a-kind pet. Lastly, visitors see that these companies are fun; whether it’s a cutest dog contest or a fashion poll, each of these companies works to get you involved in their work and in the larger community.
Does your website include these three categories? Does it clearly present what you do and how you do it? Does every part of your metadata include your location, and do you rank high in search results for your city? If not, it’s time to get back to the design board.
This is a guest post.