How to Boost Your Local Business

Melissa F. | November 16, 2023
10 mins

If you own a brick and mortar business, it’s tempting to think you just need to focus on making your store appealing, and foot traffic will take care of the rest. 

But with over 91% of consumers now using search engines to find local information, and digital retailers becoming the go-to for easy shopping, you’ll need to go the extra mile with your online presence for long term business success. 

This article will give you the insights and simplified solutions that make sure people know you’re THE place to choose in the area. From using a local listing service to easy marketing tools that do most of the heavy lifting for you, the good news is there’s lots of help at hand.

What Not to Do

To start off, let’s look at a summary of the most common marketing mistakes that local small businesses make:

  • Bad website — a strong online presence and engaging branding is vital these days. If your site isn’t optimized for small devices, and if it has an amateur feel to it, most people will click away for an easier experience. That means they’ll never get to see your store, no matter how great it is.
  • Missing business information — if it’s unclear where to find you, or your opening hours, or your current offers, you’re losing customers. Understandably, it’s hard to keep up with all the online directories, but now there are tools to make it easy.
  • Neglecting local SEO — there may be a number of customers in your area this very minute, looking for what you sell, but they don’t know you exist. It’s vital to optimize your website with location specific keywords. Search engines like Google also have algorithms which downgrade websites in search results that don’t have good customer experience, like current information.
  • Not keeping up with content marketing — fresh, interesting online content is what causes people to notice your brand. And while it’s hard for small businesses to keep up with social media, it’s a vital part of any modern business strategy.
  • Ignoring online reviews  — people nowadays are used to social proof (user feed-back) to let them know if they can trust a company. And they’re also spoilt for choice, with both physical and online retailers vying for their attention. If a potential customer reads negative reviews about you, they’ll likely take their business elsewhere.

Become a Local Hero

Now that we’ve looked at the areas you may need to strengthen in your local business marketing, let’s get into simple ways to fill the gaps.

Your goal is to become a ‘Local Hero’. Meaning people know you’re THE place to choose in the area, because you offer great customer experience. They will rave about you to everyone they know, which means you get more customers with less advertising spend.

Directory Listings - Impress Customers

If you don’t have all your details listed in the right online directories, you’re making it hard for potential customers to find and get interested in your business. It may seem like a daunting task to get up to date on all the online business directories.

But the good news is you can now use a Listing Manager to make it easier than ever before. You can update your details across all directories at the touch of a button.

Ultimately if you make sure you’re listed on all relevant directories, you won’t miss out on a potential customer. And bear in mind that people who find your business through local listings tend to be looking for what you offer, which makes it more likely they’ll become customers.

Make sure to list your website, address, contact number, and opening hours. You’ll also entice more customers if you list pictures and offers. Your business listings can act as a virtual storefront. Add images and even videos of your store and products.

And for more guidance, see ‘Directory Listing Tips’ below.

SEO - Get Found Online

Search engines rank businesses higher in search results if they have comprehensive and updated business listings on relevant platforms. That’s why using a listing management software tool is highly recommended..

Having your website included in your directory listings will also allow you to drive more visitors to your website, where you can wow people with your brand and products.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about bringing more people to your website. SEO is crucial for local businesses, because you want to make sure that when people are coming to your area, they’re easily able to find you.

While SEO is typically viewed as complex, needing difficult software or expensive experts, a good SEO Manager will give you a clear task list of everything you need to do to rank higher in search, with step-by-step instructions on how to complete them.

Here are some Top Tips to rank higher:

  • Local Keywords — adding your location and type of product or service a few times within your website content is not going to cut it anymore. It’s important to target the keywords that local customers are searching for. Play around on Google to see what keywords have the highest results. Ask customers when they visit. And a tool like RelateSEO will remove the guesswork by analyzing what customers search for as well as the keywords your competitors are using.
  • Optimize for Mobile — increasingly people use their smartphones and other mobile devices to look for what they want, so it’s important to make your website user friendly by loading quickly and looking as good as it does on a laptop.
  • Google Business Profile — if you haven’t got a Google Business Profile yet, put that high on your list, as it’s great for SEO. Make sure you include all your details and add fresh content like new posts and photos.

Reputation Management - Build Brand trust

When people do a search for the goods or services you offer in the area, they’ll be more inclined to pay you a visit if you have comprehensive information to give them a good reason. 

People also often leave reviews on online directories, so you’ll want to keep on top of that too.
A local listing service like RelateLocal will not only keep your business listings up to date, you’ll also be able to reply to reviews using AI suggestions, making it easy to demonstrate excellent customer service.

Good online reviews let people know you can be trusted, encouraging them to choose your business over competitors. Ask people to leave reviews on your Google Business Profile profile.

It’s wise to take a little time to thank customers for good reviews, to show you care about their feedback. And replying to bad reviews can turn a disgruntled customer into someone who sings your praises for resolving their issue. Great customer experience makes all the difference.

A tool like RelateLocal gives you the essentials to stay on top of reviews posted in directories. And if you want to take reputation management next level, a Review Manager can help you get more 5-Star ratings. To learn more, check out these guides:

What is Reputation Management and why is it so important?

Reputation Management — how to write review replies like a pro

Social Media - Grow Your Reach

Every business knows by now that social media is a powerful marketing tool. It allows you to connect with your customers and local community directly. It’s become a powerful channel for building brand awareness, as well as gaining direct feedback i.e. customer data is marketing gold. 

Understandably, it can be hard for small businesses to keep up with social media as they don’t have the budget to hire professionals or the time to do it themselves. RelateLocal makes it easy, by letting you post on social media from your Dashboard.

And if you want to level up even more on your social media marketing, including using AI generated content, RelateSocial does all the heavy lifting for you.

Here are some Top Tips to get the best results from social media:

  • Go Where Your Customers Are — Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (now named X) are the prime social media platforms that small businesses use, because they have the greatest audience volume.

    But it’s important to keep testing your conversion rates. For example, your main customer base may not use Instagram, so it would be a waste of time marketing there. Or you may have a large business audience, who can be reached on LinkedIn. You’ll also want to adjust your tone of voice slightly to fit different platforms.
  • Engage Your Audience — this basically boils down to regularly posting fresh, interesting content, from promotions to blogs that solve customer pain-points. A good Social Media Manager will now have AI to help you do this. Learn more: AI Know-How for Small Business Marketing.

    User-generated content is also a winner, as people love to see their comments featured. Encourage your local customers to share their experiences with your business online.
  • Budget for Targeted Ads — Facebook and Instagram let you target people in your area, so it’s worth spending some money on these types of ads. 

Want to know more about social media marketing? Check out these guides:

Quick Social Media Content Ideas

Need-to-Know Social Media Management Tips

How to Find Your Social Media Audience & Build Loyalty

Directory Listing Tips

Getting your local listings right will be a big part of your success in driving more customers through your door.  So let’s dive deeper.

Three of the most popular local business listing platforms are:

  • Google Business Profile — since Google is the most widely used search engine and mapping service, a good GMB profile is crucial to your local business.
  • Bing Places — Bing has a large audience on Microsoft devices, so it’s well worth keeping up to date.
  • Yelp  — arguably the most popular review-based platform, with a strong active community. 

Here are some Top Tips to improve your business listing management:

  • Current — while it used to be a hassle to update business info across many directories, with a Listing Manager it’s super easy. So take a little time to regularly update your info, such as adding pictures, offers, and your most current opening hours.
  • Consistent — keeping your business information identical across all directories demonstrates professionalism and good customer experience. Inconsistencies also have a tendency to confuse search engines.
  • Engaging — write compelling and useful descriptions for your business listings. Also use appropriate categories and subcategories so people can easily scan the information they’re looking for.
  • Encouraging — be sure to ask satisfied customers to leave reviews in your directory listings. As discussed, this social proof goes a long way in showing people why they should choose your business over others.
  • Responsive — a Listing Manager also makes it easy to reply to customer feedback as it’s all done in one Dashboard. Showing customers you care is how you become an unforgettable Local Hero.
  • Vigilant — RelateLocal also let’s you track the performance metrics of your business listings, showing you how weak or strong your online presence is in attracting customers.  


With online competitors gaining ground, local businesses need to do more to stand out. Luckily, there are now a range of affordable tools that make it easier than ever before to bring more customers through your door. 

From directory listings and SEO to social media and reputation management, there are a range of options available to take your local marketing next level.

But if you want a simplified, all-in-one tool, you’ll want to try out RelateLocal. Much more than just a listing management tool, it gives you everything you’ll need to make your local business shine online.


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Melissa F.

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