Six ways to hack your way to growth online

We may be in a digital world, but there’s still room for physical businesses. A café, garage, store or pharmacy still has good chances of succeeding.

The question becomes, how do you attract a customer base that’s increasingly going online?

Well, by telling people you exist. Google, for instance, has updated its algorithm, and since September 2018, all searches on your mobile phone produce a local result.

You may also have noted that there’s a map that shows you places of interest around you every time you search for a location. Here’s how local businesses can explore these free marketing opportunities.

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1. Register for ‘Google My Business’

It is free! Head on to www.google.com/business/ and get a free listing for your business. Ensure that you provide accurate information when filling out the form or you won’t appear on search results.

Google uses this information to place you in the correct category on its maps. You’ll need to verify the information by providing an accurate address to receive a postcard from Google. It can take some time. However, in some cases, Google will allow you to verify using a phone number.

2. Create local business listings

Business listings provide an opportunity to tell the world where you’re located and the types of services you offer.

There are many free Kenyan business listings, though some attach a cost for premium services. Again, you need to provide accurate information – the names, addresses and phone numbers (NAPs) must be the same for all your listings.

Some of the free business listings you can use are www.kenyaplex.com; www.pigiame.co.ke; www.kenya-business-directory.com; www.biashara.co.ke; www.businesslist.co.ke; www.bizcommunity.co.ke; and kikuyu.yalwa.co.ke

You can find more of these sites by searching: ‘your business category + free listing’.

3. Online citations

Citations are about how your business is referred to online. For example, a local business like getsales.co.ke’s citation is ‘Getsales Kenya, 057 Chancery Building off Valley Road, Nairobi, Kenya’. You can include a phone number.

This citation needs to be mentioned all around the web and Google needs to understand it as a real business. You can have the citation in blogs, social media and any other place to increase its visibility.

4. Optimise your site for local search engine optimisation (SEO)

This is one of the most important online strategies, yet it’s ignored by many businesses. Google ranks websites, so it makes sense to have the search engine understand that your business is located in a certain place. To do this, have a map location embedded on your site; have your location mentioned on your URLs and heading tags; have content related to your location; and optimise your website for mobile.

Keep in mind that more than 70 per cent of searches originate from mobile phones, which use users’ locations to provide relevant results.

5. Get high quality links from local sites

Google is hungry for great links, relevant, high-authority links. Having these builds your authority and credibility in the eyes of the search engine, and it’ll reward you with high rankings.

You can get high-authority links from community sites.

If you are a member of any local organisation, find a way of getting them to link back to you – for this, you could consider donating something and having them acknowledge it on your site, or maybe write a review about the site and have them link back to you.

6. Seek help from local SEO experts

Most of the things mentioned previously can be tedious to do. It can take hours to find a great business listing, and optimising your site for local SEO may require some technical skill.

You can get around this by approaching SEO experts like getsales.co.ke or looking for consultants on online job sites like Upwork and Freelancer.

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