The only difference between a local business Web site and a national or international Web site is the audience. Your local Web site should have the same polished appearance of a professionally designed site, but feature geographic terms and imagery (if applicable) prominently and emphasize information that your target audience needs to do business with you.
The first step in planning your site is setting your goals and writing a Web site plan. If you plan to use your Web site to drive customers to your retail location, for example, your Web hosting plan and site design will be different from a Web site that is equipped for online sales. Once you determine your site’s primary function, you need three things:
1. A Web hosting plan that supports your goals and fits your budget
A local Web site doesn’t need local Web hosting. Find the plan that includes all of the features you need and best fits your budget. Read our Web hosting articles for help choosing the right plan for your Web site.
2. A professional-looking design
People are more influenced by a quality Web site from an unfamiliar business than a bad Web site from a familiar business, according to a recent survey by Nielsen/NetRatings and WebVisible. So, unless you’re a professional-level Web designer, it’s best to hire someone to design your Web site.
If that’s not an option, we have many articles that can help you build your own Web site. Or try a do-it-yourself, template-based Web site builder.
3. A simple promotional strategy
Because people use search engines to research local businesses, getting your Web site listed in the results of major search engines is key to using your Web site to grow your business.
You can take advantage of all the regular search engine optimization techniques. But you also want to consider how local search engines work. Many people search for local businesses using a geographic term plus a keyword, so you will need to optimize your site with terms that relate to your content and your location.
If you’re not ready for a complete Web site, consider a local business profile page. This option can be more cost efficient to launch and maintain, and serve as your business card on the Web. Local business profiles offer searchers a quick snapshot of your business along with your contact information.