With the pandemic causing many people to stay close to home and support local businesses, becoming visible on local search is even more important than ever. And there is one key, free, and often underutilized aspect of local SEO: Google My Business.
While HubSpot offers a wide range of free online training courses, we understand that if you’re a local business owner, you might not have three or four hours to spend. You may not know exactly which strategy you want to learn about. You may also not yet have the resources to focus on any one strategy at this time. That’s why we’ve included their “How to” YouTube channel as a bit of a change-up.
Simply setting up web pages, ads, emails, profiles, and listings in isolation is not enough today. You have to craft them with authentic, targeted messaging so that you attract ideal customers to your business.
- Over 13 different local marketing strategies, setting short- and long-term marketing goals, tracking your success, and setting a budget.
- Running locally targeted paid ads—which includes keywords, match types, budgeting, landing pages, and ad copy.
- Successful local SEO—not only the actions to take but also what metrics will be helpful for refining your strategy.
Digital marketing can help you to streamline and synergize your strategies, provide you with valuable data to identify what works, and make life easier for you in the long run—that is, once everything is set up. But what is “everything?” What does getting “set up” even look like?
2. Video course: Google’s Digital Garage
- Focused on low-cost search marketing
- 3 hours, 4 modules
- Good for local businesses with a tight budget
- Go to course
This is a podcast hosted by Frank Demming, CEO of the company with the same name. While there are lots of small business marketing podcasts out there, you’re more apt to find them directed at small, digitally-focused agencies and tech startups. This podcast focuses particularly on traditional local businesses—law firms, dentists, chiropractors, spas, HVAC companies, home improvement companies, and more.
But building your reputation isn’t just about providing great service that generates reviews. You need to ask for them, respond to them, learn from them, and understand them as they relate to consumer trends.
The “Make Sure Customers Find You Online” course, as the name suggests, is all about understanding how search engines work and improving the discoverability of your business through them. While it covers some paid and low-cost ways to advertise your business on search engines locally, its main focus is on free search engine optimization (SEO)—making it a great course for local businesses on a budget.
3. Udemy lecture series: Online Marketing for Your Local Business Made Simple
- Focused on communicating about and authenticating your business.
- Good for local,community-centric businesses with some budget.
- 26 lectures, 4.5 hours.
- Go to course.
While Digital Garage has a “Fundamentals of Digital Marketing” course that comes with a certification, it’s a whopping 40 hours of your time. That’s why we’ve selected a smaller, simpler course that focuses primarily on one of the most important aspects of marketing your business today: search.
Whether you learn by reading, watching, listening, reviewing data, or running audits, there are plenty of free tools out there to help you grow your business, stay on top of trends, and expand your skill set. Let’s finish off with a recap of the free resources we covered in this post:
- Communicating about your business with your core story, elevator pitch, and unique selling proposition.
- Getting your first email, PPC, and social media campaigns up and running.
- Building a presence with and strengthening ties to your community.
I don’t know about you, but when I discover a new podcast and it has 300+ episodes, I get overwhelmed with where to start. This podcast started in February of 2020, so it has a finite number of episodes to listen to, and you can also be sure that you’re getting advice relevant to today’s business landscape and social climate.
4. Research report: BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey
- Focused on customer reviews and reputation building.
- Good for local businesses looking to outshine their competitors.
- 18-minute read.
- Go to report.
With the Google My Business Grader, you can turn your Google business listing into a free advertising tool that attracts your most likely customers.
Currently, there are three labs: Local Marketing 101, Local SEO, and Local PPC. By the time you finish with them, you’ll have learned about:
Having a strong and steady stream of reviews coming in about your business sends signals to Google and other search engines that your business is active and trustworthy. And a mix of positive and negative reviews isn’t bad either—it shows that your business has nothing to hide.
- Customer review trends from the previous year (2020).
- The impact of COVID-19 on local businesses and consumer behavior.
- What review readers care about.
- How to ask for, respond to, and write customer reviews.
Did you know that online reviews are among the top ranking factors for local SEO? This is not surprising when you think about how you search for a product or service close to you. You turn to your go-to site like Google, Yelp, or Facebook. You choose the highest ranking results first, and then you compare them to determine which one to go with. Aside from price and proximity, you compare the quantity and quality of reviews other customers have left about the business.
5. Podcast: Marketing Solutions for Local Businesses
- Focused on local, service-based businesses.
- Great for entrepreneurs interested in emerging topics and lifestyle tips.
- 20-30 minute episodes.
- Go to podcast.
Start growing your knowledge, your reputation, and your local presence now!
Third, because it has a lesson on offline marketing. For local businesses in particular, non-digital promotion methods are still very important, since they help you to strengthen ties with your community and attract loyal customers.
6. Educational tool: WordStream’s Google My Business Grader
Google’s Digital Garage provides a wide range of free courses to help you grow your business, advance in your career, or just brush up on your digital skills.
With a clear understanding of local marketing strategies as well as a way to track and measure success, you’ll be empowered to strengthen your presence in your community, try out new strategies with confidence, and ultimately drive more leads and sales.
Your Google listing is often referred to as your second homepage. Why? Because a consumer can discover, learn about, and engage with your business directly on the SERP, without even going to your website. But it’s not just a matter of adding your name, address, website, and phone number. There are a number of sections in your profile that need to be filled out and optimized in order to show up higher in local search results. And it also gets confusing because your Google listing is actually a separate entity from your Google My Business account, although the two are connected.
7. YouTube channel: HubSpot’s “How-To” series
- Focused on both strategies and tactics across a range of tools.
- Good for the one-man (or woman) show with little to no time.
- 58 (and counting) short, standalone videos.
- Go to channel.
With the data and insights from this report, you can make sure you’re obtaining maximum visibility on local search this year and that you get chosen above your close competitors.
There are a few reasons why this Udemy course has made the list. First, because it is a bit more tactical, walking you through the setup process for your website, social media profiles, email, and paid ad platforms. Second, because it covers targeting, messaging, and positioning, which is crucial for local businesses.
Use these marketing resources to grow your local business
Simplification and empowerment is the name of the game for LOCALiQ, and they’ve got their Marketing Lab to reinforce that. This free educational hub is great for business owners and marketers looking to arm themselves with effective local marketing strategies, experiment with new ideas, or even to be able to make informed decisions when outsourcing. And having worked with over 300,000 local businesses across the country, you can rest assured they know their stuff.
- LOCALiQ’s Marketing Lab
- Google’s Digital Garage
- Udemy’s Online Marketing for Your Local Business Made Simple
- BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Report
- Marketing Solutions for Local Businesses podcast
- WordStream’s Google My Business Grader tool
- HubSpot’s “How-Tos” YouTube channel
You don’t know what you don’t know, so how can you know what to search? Let the information come to you by subscribing to this channel and discovering new ideas and topics you may want to further explore.