Internet Strategy

Four Tactics For Improving Local Websites

Steve Wolgemuth | Jan 14, 2013

You don’t need an MBA to know that location is extremely important to any business, especially localized businesses. That’s why premium prices are paid for premium real estate. A great location represents visibility, traffic, and grows brand association. But have you ever considered how it might contribute to your online marketing and particularly, your website’s impact on its visitors?

Many businesses have a good website, but often fail to leverage the businesses’ proximity to their customers. If you have a localized business, here are 4 ways that you can take it to the next level by leveraging your “local-ness”:

Bad Stock Photo Example

Congratulations! You just scared your audience by posting a creepy stock image instead of your own.

1. Feature actual staff members in photos.

Ok, your staff might not be as beautiful and your teeth might not be as straight as the stock photo model, but it is your staff’s familiar faces that your customers are going to run into at your front desk, at the grocery store, and at the next Chamber mixer.

People trust familiarity. People are attracted to authenticity. Enough time has gone by and lessons learned about what works online. Stock photos are a bad idea, especially for a localized business. Not only are you missing the opportunity to earn more trust from customers, you may even be unintentionally creepy at worst, or uncomfortably anonymous at best.

Stop using stock photos in place of real photos of your people.

2. Include images of familiar places within your proximity.

You are local, and being local builds trust. Including images from your area that are familiar to people re-enforces the idea that you are nearby, and that you have something in common. If you’ve ever been far from home and coincidentally run into someone from your area, there is an excitement about discovering and sharing common knowledge of a place with them. Common places connect people, making them part of the same tribe. If there is a town square, a town clock, or a landmark that strongly represents your area, you might consider including it in your design. If that doesn’t make sense to you, consider using a flattering photo of your business storefront. Part of an office complex? Consider a photo of your sign, or any publicly visible marker that a local person might encounter.

3. Create unique location pages.

This is extremely important for local search engine optimization. While single location businesses can get away with using a Contact page for their location page, localized businesses with multiple locations should have a unique page for each location. Think of these pages as mini-sites for each business address, and include unique content and helpful information. These pages will serve as a foundation for the local search optimization for each location’s service area. Consider also including geo-tags, telling bots where this location is on the map.

geo code example




4. Use local trust symbols for better conversion.

Is your business a member of the local Chamber of Commerce within your service area? Does your business support a local charity? Are there any high profile businesses in your area that your business serves or are connected to your brand? Consider mentioning these organizations (preferably including a logo) on your website. Local business and community relationships act as “trust symbols.” A well-placed trust symbol will help to increase conversions on your web form, especially if it’s within view as your visitor is hovering over that button, about to hit Send. Try posting a testimonial from a local celebrity, high profile community member, or well-known business owner on your website. Visitors trust opinions from familiar, local names more so than general testimonials.