If you’re running a small business, you know how great it can feel to have new leads find you online and reach out to you. It usually means you’re just a step away from converting someone into a bonafide, paying customer! That is, until you find out that they’re calling from 12 states away and are looking for a service they can personally interact with or a store they can actually visit. That’s where the importance of generating local leads comes into play.

Everyone is super jazzed about the idea of lead generation to their site – but for many small businesses today, the only leads that make sense are local leads. These are the leads within driving, or walking, distance of the mom and pop shops and custom-tailored services that are cropping up all over the country. If you run a wine shop in south Brooklyn, it doesn’t matter how many people across the country get exposure to your site or digital ads – you need to target the few hundred that are actually going to hoof it over to your store to get that perfect bottle of chilled rose for their garden party. The good news is that there is a lot you can do to make sure that you are not only driving in leads – but that you’re driving the right local leads to your website or door.

The Importance of Local Lead Generation

Driving new traffic and generating local leads from your area helps establish your company as a leader in your industry or community. Without generating the right kind of leads, trying to land sales can feel pretty Sisyphean. Local lead gen might seem like a no-brainer, but it is surprising how many businesses find it super difficult to break into a local community and make an impact – or send a message that resonates with the right audience. Here are some ways that you can make sure you are getting your content in front of the right local leads.

How to Get More Local Leads

1. Optimize for Mobile

local-leads-mobileOne of the best ways to guarantee the best possible local lead gen is to optimize for mobile. And we don’t mean just slightly optimized so that your site doesn’t look wonky on a big tablet. We mean FULLY optimized. Roughly 30% of mobile users will stop a shopping cart that hasn’t been optimized for mobile and 50% of all local searches are done via a mobile device. If they find you on mobile but can’t interact with your brand, your chances of converting a lead are pretty much shot.

Consumers are getting familiar with using mobile for researching brands and doing comparison shopping. Say they are out on the hunt for a new TV or pair of running shoes – when they google stores in the area and yours comes up, you want them to be able to peruse your inventory, find your contact info, read reviews and more. The more that they can do on their way to or in the vicinity of your brick-and-mortar location, the better.

It’s also worth mentioning that Google is actually penalizing sites that aren’t mobile ready, so you’ll be less likely to pop up even on someone’s desktop search. Verse yourself on tablet resolutions and make sure you’re not coming up short on different devices. You can test your site out with this handy mobile-friendly test from Google developers.

2. Make Google Do the Work

We asked Kevin Jordan, principle at Redpoint Marketing Consultants and co-author of best-selling book Local Lead Generation, what Google loves most when it comes to beefing up your website for generating local leads. Here’s what he had to say:

This is the key content that every local business website should have to rank well in Google for local searches:

  • NAP (Name Address Phone) info on every page of the site
  • Service area pages targeting each local community that they serve (for service-based businesses) with 600–800 words of unique keyword-rich content for each page
  • A page about each main type of service that they provide with about 500-800 words of keyword-rich content on each page
  • A page about each main type of customer they are targeting (B2C business) or type of business they serve (B2B business) with about 500–800 words of keyword-rich content
  • A frequently asked questions page
  • An “about us” page
  • A “contact us” page with a map and directions to the business location
  • A testimonials page, with the testimonials entered using a markup that Google will recognize
  • A blog that is updated once a month

“In most small to mid-size cities, a business that does all of the above will almost immediately beat almost every local competitor when it comes to Google search rankings for their target keywords.” – Kevin Jordan

Download our checklist “Ideation Workshop” and go through it during your next ideation session to consistently develop innovative ideas.

3. Figure Out What Your Audience is Searching For

local-leads-searchingYour audience knows what they are looking for – so do them a favor and give it to them! Creating super specific, relevant topics for a hyper-localized audience will really pay off in the long run. You can imagine that a blog post about gardening would be very different for an audience in the desserts of Nevada vs. someone in upstate New York. If your business is geared toward a local audience, come up with content that is regional, timely and as specific as possible in order to make sure it appeals to the people you’re most likely to convert into leads and, ultimately, customers.

For instance, if you’re in the business of selling baby supplies in Dallas, you might want to optimize for “baby beds Dallas” or “baby bottles” or “Dallas nursing supplies” in addition to “baby supplies.” You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to help you identify which search terms and phrases you should be targeting. Make sure to also keep in mind different location phrases. If you operate out of New Jersey, you might optimize for searches in the “tri-state” area, for example.

Justin Sturges, President & Principal Marketing Consultant at Systemadik and Author of Amazon Best Seller The Small Business Owners Guide to Local Lead Generation, says their company works with businesses all the time that have never gotten a single lead generated from their website.

We revamp and tweak stuff a little, we create great usable content that is just what the target market wants and BAM, they often start getting more calls and generated leads than they can handle in a short period of time. 

Why does this work so well? Because practically nobody spends the extra time and effort in local marketing to make truly useful content that the target market cares about. You can outflank even your largest competitors this way if you have the right understanding of your target market.”

– Justin Sturges

4. Include Local Website Links

Google loves it when you link up to other legit and relevant sources and rewards you by pushing up your search ranking. Referencing good sources also helps you gain some clout in your community when you stay connected. There are heaps of online communities and other sites that you can connect with in order to get your name out into the world.

You can start with Facebook Groups and pages in your area, local LinkedIn Groups, Craigslist groups, Meetup.com, Angie’s List and any local organizations that you know of where you can chime into conversations or offer info about your products or services. Just make sure you have a genuine presence on the sites so your efforts don’t come off as too spammy.

5. Build Strategic Partnerships

Sturges believes that business development through strategic partnerships is the single best way to boost local lead generation.

“Ask yourself which other businesses serve the same target market as you and have similar conversations with them, he says. “Developing relationships with even just a few of these businesses so you can refer high quality customers back and forth can mean the difference between success and failure.”

Using a more hands-on method initially can help you build up your audience before you start to develop your online presence.

6. Become an Authority

local-leads-classroomDon’t forget that your content is the biggest player in your local lead gen efforts. You want to produce high-quality content regularly no matter where you are driving leads from, but it can especially work in your favor when it comes to local leads.

Use your content to prove that you are the absolute expert in your field, within your area. Obviously this is a lot easier when you are in rural areas with less competition, but anything you can do to prove that you are up to snuff on the topics relevant to you and your customers will help you appeal to them.

For example, if you run a local vet clinic, attend a veterinarian conference and do a write up about what you learned. If you run an event planning business, do a roundup of the best caterers in town, or the best e-invitation apps out there – you get the picture.

In his book Local Lead Gen, Jordan says the type of content that generates leads for local businesses are:

  • Lists of frequently asked questions with the answers
  • Case studies about successful projects they have completed
  • Testimonials from current customers
  • Useful and informative blog articles relevant to their niche that use terms that people are actually searching for online

He also mentions that guest blogging on the websites of other local businesses that link back to your website is a very valuable and under-utilized tactic for driving local leads.

7. Local SEO Keywords

We cannot stress enough on how important it is to use local SEO keywords when you’re trying to drum up local business. Like we mentioned before, use Google’s Keyword Planner to find out what people are searching for in your area and make sure you fill up your content (as organically as possible, of course) with those terms and phrases.

You are likely to rank higher for long-tail keywords, such as “pet sitting companies in Denver” instead of more basic search terms like “pet sitter.” The more you tailor your content around these specific keywords and optimize for them, the more likely you are to rank higher in searches.

8. Boost Your Social Rep

local-leads-thumbs-upThere’s no question that you want your business to show up on in Google searches, but to be best-in-class, you also must have great reviews. When’s the last time you went to a new restaurant or gym with out checking out what other people thought?

  • Make sure that you have fully filled out your Google profile, including the hours of operation, address, phone number, photos of your space and staff and any other relevant information that will help lure customers in.
  • Encourage customers to leave reviews by including review information on receipts (a website, social media handle, etc.) and consider offering giveaways to customers that leave reviews (enter to win THIS by leaving a review!).

Jordan says that if small businesses without much time or resources could do just one thing to improve their local lead generation strategy, it should be ramping up their “reputation marketing.” That’s what it’s called when you aim to get as many five-star customer reviews from as many different websites as possible. “Start with Google and Facebook and then get them on industry specific sites (Home Advisors for contractors, Zillow for realtors, etc.).” He recommends a service called Grade.us to help you find and monitor reviews on the sites that matter.

Need help coming up with great content to improve your local leads game? Contact us to see what Oz can do for you.

If you want to read more from the experts we consulted, you can get in touch with Justin Sturges at his site, Systemadik, and follow Kevin Jordan on Twitter @RMCVirginia.