As a small business owner, you know that one of the hardest aspects of business is marketing your products and services.  In a local market, that can be particularly challenging, since competition can be quite aggressive, and you are all contending for the same customers.  If you want to give yourself a real edge over your competitors, learn to make the most of the internet as a marketing tool.  Both local listings and SEO are powerful instruments you can use to push your business ahead in the local market.  Here are some helpful tips and strategies for marketing your business online.

Start from the ground up.

Even if you already have a website, it can be helpful to start “from the ground up.”  Think critically about every page of your website and ask yourself if the site you have designed is really doing its job and performing its most basic functions.  Does it teach visitors about your products and services and the history of your company?  Does it make it obvious how to contact your company?  Does it make your business stand out in some meaningful way from the competition?  In particular, you want your homepage to address all of these questions.  Other pages on your site can provide specific detail on products, services, and more.  Add strong calls to action on each of your pages.

Integrate location.

As a local business, it is extremely important to target local keywords so that you get site visitors who are actually in town and not across the country or on the wrong side of the globe.  Include your city or town in your alt tag and title tag, and even in your URL.

Verify quality in every aspect of your website.

Go a step further than your competitors and incorporate some serious quality control.  Go over every page of your site and check the quality of content and even outbound links.  Make sure they are all pointing toward sites that provide other quality content (which is relevant to your niche).  Ensure that none of them are pointing to dead pages or spam pages.  You may also want to check your backlinks.  Make sure that links are being consistently shared across all of your social networking sites.

It is tough for any business to get noticed on the internet, where billions of businesses and individuals are shouting for attention.  While operating as a local business can put you in a smaller arena, it can also be a more fiercely competitive one.  Small local businesses may actually struggle even more than other types of businesses to get recognized online for just that reason.  Taking steps to integrate location and improve the quality and relevance of your entire website can really pay off though.  A lot of businesses are tempted to “set and forget.”  Don’t be one of them.  Go the extra mile and reap the rewards that your competitors forfeit!