Running a business in the world today isn’t easy. Sure, the internet has changed the way businesses connect with different audiences and customers around the world, but there are still many local and offline businesses that are struggling to compete.
This is especially true in the world of ‘trade businesses’, where individual contractors and hands-on jobs need to compete with bigger businesses and brands that have much larger marketing budgets. A perfect example of this would be if someone went to Google and was looking for a plumber or electrician — would they find your brand or one of the big name brands that either hire insider employees or outsources the work?
Today we are going to highlight some of the best ways that local small businesses, contractors, and trade businesses can compete in the new world of online searches, reviews, and local marketing. It’s not just about getting new business and leads from local audiences, it’s also about perfecting your expertise and authority within your space, while also using the power of the internet to make it easy for potential customers to find and get in contact with your as well.
How to Rank a Local Business for Local Search Results
When you have a local business or your personal name is your business, people are going to search for these online first. With that in mind, you need to rank at the top of Google for optimal results. If you don’t already have a website or blog in place, this is a must!
A website will make it easy for potential customers to find you online, while a blog is ideal for creating new forms of content and ranking for local long tail keywords. With a site of your own, you can also showcase customer testimonials, services offered, and having a live form for free quotes and estimates.
Try to rank for both your personal name and your business name. To help with this process, we recommend setting up both personal accounts and business accounts on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. The reason for this is that Google loves to rank these sites and by having profiles set up on each of them, it should be easier to rank for your name and business with each profile you set up.
Depending on your expertise and the type of business branding you want to focus on, registering and using your personal name as a domain name might be a good idea. In the world of blogging, make money online, and affiliate marketing, people are doing this all the time. Not only are they launching blogs with their name as their domain, they are also building powerful brands in the process.
The more focused you are on your brand name and ranking it on Google, the better the results you are going to see. An extra added bonus here is that you can often link back to your main site from each of these social profiles — which will also pass link juice back to your site. With enough of these in place (and promotion to your social profile), this will help your main website rank higher as well.
Time Management and Invoicing Solutions
When you run an offline business or are making money based on your hands or a specialized skill, you can only make as much money as there are hours in a day. With this in mind, it’s important to manage your time working as efficiently as possible, while also making sure you are getting paid for every minute worked.
While some business owners might not like how the internet has affected their businesses, they also need to take advantage of what has come out of it as well. A perfect example of this would be automated tools and solutions for better managing a business’ finances.
For example, imagine how useful invoicing software for plumbers would be in reference to keeping invoices in order, not having to write out and collect paper invoices, and also for creating easy to follow monthly revenue reports. At the end of the year, when it comes time to do the taxes, having all of this in order and through an online reporting tool could save hundreds of hours and dollars in itself.
According to U.S News, plumbers across the country can earn anywhere from $30k to almost $100k per year. The difference between the highest and lowest earners, isn’t likely just in reference to their work, but also their business and financial management as well. Through the use of online tools, better customer support and management, evert plumber and trade business owner should be able to increase their earnings.
The median salary for a plumber was $51,450 in 2016, the BLS reports. The best-paid pulled in about $90,530, while those in the bottom 10 percent earned $30,430 a year. Apprentices who are just starting out could make 30 to 50 percent less than a fully trained plumber.
Another great way to use the internet to better run an offline business is to look at your options with staying in contact with customers through the use of an online blog and customer email list. These are both pretty easy to set up, as there are many providers and solutions that were custom-built and catered towards small business owners. To learn more about other similar methods and solutions like the ones mentioned in this section, be sure to check out this article and infographic.
Using Social Media and Review Sites to Improve Presence
Another area that small and local business owners might not have been spending as much attention towards, is social media and how local directories and review sites could have an impact on their businesses. More often than not, sites like Yelp or HomeAdvisor will automatically create profiles for businesses through the world — thus allowing to rank higher and more often in the search results.
While this is great in theory, it also offers some problems for these smaller businesses. Such problems can be competitive on in the search results, more sites to claim as a business, and also more sites that need to be reviewed for complaints, ratings, and feedback.
To make the most of these platforms, it’s important to claim your business as soon as possible. This is especially the case with Google Local, as it’s going to be one of the most prominent sources for information appearing in Google. The benefit here is that many of these platforms also allow you to not just claim your business page, but also to update it with your business info, hours, contact info and sometimes even a link back to your site.
Offline or Online, the Internet is Your Friend
Improve the day-to-day operations and growth of your business by taking advantage of what the internet has to offer. Offline businesses that have ignored the internet have quickly found themselves in trouble and often out of business. Those who have adapted with time, not only found great success in the resources available, but have also moved past the competition in the process.