5 Techniques to Attract More Local Customers

5 Techniques to Attract More Local Customers

For many small businesses like a local deli, an appliance repair service, or a dental office, one of the main goals is to get more customers in the community. There’s no point in having a website that gets the attention of people in South Africa if your shop is in a suburb of Miami, right?

So what can you do to drum up more business in the neighborhood? To increase your local customers, test out the following techniques:

1. Have a Website

Nowadays, even a local dog-walking service needs a website. How else can local customers find out about the products or services you’re offering? People like to do Google searches on everything, and you need a website for people to find you through Google.

Just make sure it works on smartphones and tablets too. It helps if its design is responsive, so your website can be viewed by a smartphone or a PC with w huge monitor.

2. Get Into Local Online Listings

You should be listed on Google My Business, though to cover all the bases you should be listed on Bing as well. Your location and a map to your place will appear for potential customers when you’re listed on these listings.

You should also try to get on Yelp and TripAdvisor where customers can get reviews as well as info on your shop. You should respond to reviews as much as you can, even with just brief “thank you” comments for positive reviews. You can also defend your brand against complaints and negative reviews, or you can always apologize and promise to improve.

3. Publicize Your Business with Your Vehicle

If you’re using a van, a truck, or something similar for your business, then it needs to feature your business brand, logo, phone number, and website address. That’s so everyone in the local community can see the advertisement of your brand every time you travel about. Even if you use a smaller vehicle, you can use decals and magnets to publicize your brand. A mobile billboard is quite effective in boosting the visibility of your brand and it doesn’t cost you a lot of money.

4. Use Social Media

Many customers of small businesses tend to spend a significant amount of time on social media, so you may as well go where the customers are. Use Facebook and Twitter, along with Instagram if your business works with visuals. You can then use your Facebook logo and your Twitter handle on your business cards, your show window, and your website and blog.

Social media helps you engage more directly with local customers, and in a way, it’s as friendly as a phone call or a face to face meeting. It’s much more personal, and that’s more effective with a local business.

5. Use Online Ads

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all offer ads to feature your business. In Facebook, they can show your ad whenever people are close to your place of business. You can also create an ad right on your Facebook page.

All these methods work, and in a few months’ time, you should see some improvement in your local customer numbers after implementing these techniques.

LA Startups Crew
Los Angeles Startups
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.
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LA Startups Crew
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.

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6 Easy Steps to Optimizing Your Voice Search – And Why It’s Important

6 Easy Steps to Optimizing Your Voice Search - And Why It's Important

Interacting with artificial intelligence may still seem like an idea from science fiction, but several companies have turned that idea into reality sparking the need to know how to optimize for voice search.

Is voice search really that important?

Yes, because it’s revealed something about us … we really, really like it.

When people have questions, they turn to the web for answers. If you want to learn more about a restaurant, the weather, or the score from last night’s game, you’ll probably turn to the web for the answer in most cases. It’s fast, efficient, and you can access it with your phone.

With voice search, you don’t even need your phone.

So, what does this mean for business owners?

Similar to the way you performed search engine optimization to align your website with the keyword your target customers use, you now need to understand how to optimize for voice search. Today, we’re taking a closer look at this process as well as why it’s important.

How Popular Is Voice Search?

The statistics on voice search definitely shows that it has become a lot more popular, and it will become even more prevalent in the future.

  • Compared to 2008 voice search stats, search queries on Google voice search has increased 35 times by 2016.
  • 4 out of 10 adults now use voice search at least once a day.
  • About a quarter of young adults (ages 16 to 24) use voice search on their mobile devices.
  • By 2016, 20% of searches on an Android app in the US were by voice search.

More and more people are using it. It’s just a fact of life, and it’s a practice that’s bound to increase in the future. It’s been predicted that by 2020, fully half of all searches will be by voice. Desktop users are using voice search more, and home automation and Internet devices are increasingly voice activated.

Top Reasons Why More People are Using Voice Search

There are several good reasons why more people are using voice search instead of typing in keywords into a search bar. One survey discovered the top reasons for resorting to voice search over keyboard tapping:

  • Voice search is great when you’re eyes or hands are otherwise busy at something else. In many cases, this “something else” means driving. But it can apply to many other types of activities and situations. You can be doing chores at home, such as vacuuming or watching TV. You can be working out in the gym. So when your hands are busy, this means you can’t type in the words in the search bar. When you’re watching something else, you can’t see what you’re typing. In both cases, voice search makes more sense.
  • Others use voice search because they appreciate the faster results. Think about it: how much faster is it for people to talk, compared to typing in the keywords? People can type about 40 words a minute, but they can speak up to 150 words per minute. Google can start its search much earlier with voice search.
  • Some people use voice search because it’s easier. In many situations, it can be difficult to type in the words. This is certainly true when you’re on the go. Others aren’t yet well-versed in tapping the right letters on a smartphone screen.
  • For some, it’s about the cool and fun factor. Kids and teens just think it’s a cool way to use Google. But quite a few senior citizens are enthralled by the technology as well. It’s just so Star Trek.
  • Voice search is also a good way to avoid using confusing menus. This is especially true for apps that allow for voice search.

How to Optimize for Voice Search

So now that you know that people are using voice search more frequently, you have to adjust your website to accommodate this new trend. It took too long for some brands and websites to factor in the rising popularity of mobile search in the past, and they paid for it with reduced traffic. Now your website has to account for voice search if you want to take SEO seriously.

So what should you do? Here are some ways you can improve your website so that you can accommodate the needs of people who use voice search:

1 Update your local listings

In many cases, people use voice search to find info regarding brick and mortar establishments. So you need to make sure that your local listings are set up properly and they’re accurate. Put in your business information and pick your categories wisely. Your information should also be consistent with all the listings they appear in.

2 Use natural language keywords

The most common keywords used in voicemail will usually be in the form of long tail keywords and natural questions. You have to optimize your site for those kinds of questions.

3 Have a Q&A section

This is an effective way to have natural questions in your content. At the same time, you can provide the answers right away. It’s best if you don’t limit your Q&A to just your FAQ section. You may want to have your blog posts contain this kind of format. In fact, you can put them on your product pages as well. You have to build your content around questions that people might post on voice search.

4 Optimize for mobile

While it’s true that voice search is even becoming popular for desktop PC, the fact remains that voice search is more often done on smartphones. This means you need to make sure your website looks great on such a small screen. It should also feature navigation features that work best for smartphone touchscreens. Don’t put in links and buttons too close together.

5 Boos your website speed

Many voice search users are on the go. They’re also mobile Internet users, and these people are notoriously impatient. About 40% of all mobile users wait only 3 seconds before they abandon a website. So if it takes more than a few seconds for your landing screen to load, people are just going to tap the back button and try another website instead.

 6 Make your content scannable

Most of the time, people won’t bother to read long articles on their smartphones. They’ve posted a question on their search, and they want to get the answer quickly. So use visual info if possible. For text, you need large fonts for headlines, simple sentences, and short paragraphs.

It’s imperative that you don’t miss the boat on voice search. You have to accept that more and more people are using this to find the website and data they need, and you have to optimize your website accordingly.

 

Founder, Editor-in-Chief
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.
×
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

6 Simple Steps to Making a Mobile-Focused Website

6 Simple Steps to Making a Mobile-Focused Website

You’ll need a different mindset if your website is primarily designed for mobile users.

It’s funny when you think about it, but there was a time when websites weren’t really designed for smartphone screens. They were designed for the much larger monitors of desktop PCs. Of course, when you shrink those web pages you can hardly read and see anything, which became a problem when mobile Internet surfing became more popular. So the more farsighted website owners created their websites for PCs, and then they tried to have a different version for smartphones.

Nowadays, most serious websites have both a PC and a mobile version. In fact, more websites are actually being built for mobile surfing first, before a desktop PC version is created. That’s because more people are going online using the smartphones rather than their desktop PCs.

So how do you build a website that’s more focused on serving the needs of mobile visitors? Here are a few tips that can start you on your way:

1. Strip Your Pages Down

When you’re determined to build a website that’s actually geared for smartphone users, you can’t use overly complex webpages. You have to simply your web pages instead.

There are good reasons for this. One, with a small screen to work with you don’t want to overwhelm the user with too many details. A simple layout works much better so they know what to do. Two, with too many complex elements it’ll take too long for a web page to load, and we all know how impatient mobile surfers are. If it takes more than 3 seconds to load a page, chances are good they’ll press the back button and try another website.

2. Plan for Your User’s Needs

Will they be tapping buttons on the web page? If so, you need to make those buttons visible, and they should be large enough so that they can be tapped easily enough. Will they have to input a username and password? If that’s the case, you’ll have to put in a keyboard interface as well. What if they’re looking for a particular section? You may want to feature a clear outline of your site, and a search bar can certainly help.

You have to put yourself in your website user’s shoes. Pretend you’re the user and you need to find something on your website. You’ should then realize what kind of helpful elements you need to put in.

When you’ve designed your web pages, try them out first. You have to know for sure how they would work within a mobile browser.

3. Don’t Forget about Laptops

When you’re designing with a smartphone user in mind, at least you have a touchscreen working for you so your users can simply swipe along the way to navigate your site. But that’s not exactly the case when your mobile user is actually using a laptop. In some instances, they don’t have a mouse either.

What this also means is that you have to plan for various resolutions to make sure your web pages appear at their best. Laptops are often limited to 1024 x 768 resolutions, and that’s what you need to plan for. In fact, check out the various screen sizes of the most popular laptops so you can have a different version for each resolution.

4. Going with Responsive Layouts

Some people would rather opt for a responsive layout, rather than have a different type of website for each type of Internet device. With a responsive design, your website morphs to fit whatever type of resolution your website user is using.

This can be quite convenient for you. You’ll have the same HTML markup that works on all screens. You won’t have to go with specific stylesheets for different types of devices.

Since you’re focused on mobile users first, at least with this approach you take care of the needs of those using smaller screens. Of course, there’s a good chance that you won’t get an optimal look when you’re website visitor is using a desktop browser. But those are bugs that you can fix later. These guys aren’t your top priority after all.

To help you see just how responsive websites can work for different devices, you ought to do some research on the various responsive sites that are currently in operation these days. Just Google for them and you should find them easily enough. You can then cherry-pick the features that you want to appear on your own responsive website.

5. Don’t Forget about the Navigational Requirements

If you’ve been designing websites all this time with a focus on desktop users, then you’re probably more used to people who can just use a mouse to get around a webpage. That’s not going to fly with a mobile website.

For most website designers, the simplest solution here is to just have your page sections cascade down. Your visitors can just swipe downward to see more of your content. You can also have your links appear constantly at the top or at the bottom of the screen so that they can get around your site more easily.

Just don’t go overboard and put in too many links on your navigational menu bar. Just go with the basic root items instead.

6. Set Up Your Images Properly

Dealing with image content can be problematic when you have such a small screen to work with. One solution is to have a set of images solely for small smartphone screens, while you have another set for normal displays. However, you can’t overlook the need for high-resolution images for iPhone retina displays.

Another solution is to set up all your images to contract and then expand up to the maximum point. This can work just as well for desktop users too. Even HTML5 video supports this setup, so it’s convenient.

It does require a different mindset when you’re building a website that’s more focused on mobile users. The old ways won’t work if you’re used to traditional desktop websites. Whatever you do, just don’t forget to give it a test run on your own smartphone first!

Here are 5 Steps You Can Do to Prepare Your Website for Google’s Mobile-First Index

Founder, Editor-in-Chief
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.
×
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

How To Choose High Energy Food That Fuel Your Body For Peak Performance

How To Choose High Energy Food That Fuel Your Body For Peak Performance

You need food and hydration to fuel your body and achieve peak performance when doing outdoor activities like cycling, running, hiking, and swimming.

The best way to fuel your body would be to consume energy foods and energy drinks. These have numerous advantages: easy digestibility, a long shelf life, and they are also easy to bring.

Here are the things that you need to look for in an energy food or drink

  • Exact time to take energy foods and drinks: Be careful, as there are certain items which are designed to be consumed before, after or during the activity itself. Make sure you read the label correctly before buying.
  • Nutrition: When choosing the food and drink of your choice. You need to look at its nutritional contents. Look at the back of the product. Make sure you choose an item that has low fats, low carbs, and high protein.
  • Features of energy food and drink: There are various options like non-GMO foods, gluten-free foods, organic foods, etc.
  • Various Energy drinks and foods: You can choose from bites, jells, bars, chews, recovery drinks, and sports drinks.

The Various Types of Energy Foods and Drinks

  • Bars: Bars are high in carbohydrates and low in protein and fat. There are lots of bars to choose from and they come in all shapes and colors. It is recommended that you consume energy bars before or after endurance activities. The high-grade crabs in bars help replenish glycogen in muscles. And some energy bars can even be used as substitutes for real meals.
  • Foods and Drinks Taken during Workout: For sustained energy during exercise, it is good to introduce some protein and fat into your diet.
  • After Workout Foods and Drinks: These energy foods can help your body rebuild muscles and tissues. It is also recommended that you drink lots of water or lots of liquids after eating post workout foods.

When Should You Consume Energy Foods and Drinks?

REI reports that energy foods and drinks can fine-tune your nutrition intake. REI also reports that energy foods and drinks are engineered to enhance each stage of outdoor excursion or workout.

  • Before Activity: These energy foods and drinks provide an elevated and consistent energy level, they are formulated to give you the necessary energy and nutrients to perform in peak condition. These energy foods are made from a balanced mix of proteins, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. Additionally, they should be consumed minutes before the start of an exercise routine.
  • During Activity: These foods and drinks are designed for easy digestion and absorption. They are designed to give you energy while running, cycling, climbing, etc.
  • After Activity: These foods and drinks are fortified with amino acids, proteins and other muscle restoring elements. They are mostly used for recovery and they can also speed up muscle growth and muscle synthesis. These foods usually have a lot of amino acids and a lot of protein.

Some Notable Features of Energy Drinks that you should look out for

  • Gluten Free: Found in some grains including rye, wheat, and barley these products are a mixture of protein and they contain zero gluten.
  • Vegetarian: These products might contain eggs, milk, and honey. Just like the name implies, products with these labels don’t have meat in them.
  • Vegan: This is similar to the label above but this time it has zero animal products in it. That means no eggs and no milk. It’s 100% animal free.
  • Organic: Organic foods aren’t 100% organic though. The law states that at least 70 percent of its ingredients must be organic for it to be labeled as organic. So “organic” products might contain artificial ingredients.
  • Non-GMO: These products don’t contain any GMO foods. It also means that you’re taking in unaltered and all-natural ingredients as well.
  • Energy Bites and Chews: They provide the same function as an energy gel. It is recommended that you take a few sips of water after chewing down bites and chews. You might suffer from indigestion if you fail to follow this advice.
  • Energy Gels: Small and portable energy packs that you can use to refuel and rehydrate.
  • Drink Mixes: A concentrated mix of energy. Be careful, it is essential that you limit your intake to 60 grams per hour. Too much intake may lead to stomach problems.

Some miscellaneous facts on energy foods and drinks

Understanding the basics of nutrition is beneficial for your long-lasting health. Consider the following.

  • Carbohydrates: 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour is the ideal intake. Eating and drinking more than this may upset your stomach.
  • Calories: 200 to 300 calories per hour is considered as a good ballpark figure. Luckily for you, most gels, bites, energy bars, and drinks have this standard.
  • Fat: Relatively, energy foods are low in fats. However, some meal replacement bars designed for endurance athletes might contain more fat than needed.
  • Protein: This is one of the key components for muscle building. It is essential for rebuilding tissues.
  • Potassium: Considered to be one of the main components of electrolytes. Ingredients like potassium citrate are essential for metabolizing carbohydrates which ultimately leads to the proper functioning of muscles. Potassium also keeps you hydrated
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Overall, energy bars have the highest number of minerals and vitamins which your body naturally burns through exercise and activity.
  • Sodium: Just like potassium, sodium is essential in metabolizing carbohydrates for the proper functioning of muscles. It also keeps you hydrated.
  • Sweeteners: Some performance beverages, chews and gels like Stevia, honey, agave. Do not use sugar as a calorie sweetener. Natural sweeteners are ok, but sugar and other artificial sweeteners may damage your health in the long run.
  • Amino Acid Blends: It’s basically a blend of proteins. Proteins like valine, leucine, and isoleucine are added to gels which are further broken down by the body after consumption.
  • Caffeine: It gives you an energy boost. Caffeine is present in most energy bars, chews, jells, and drinks. In fact, it’s rare to find energy with that doesn’t have caffeine.

Here are 16 Easy Ways to Eat Healthier Every Day

LA Startups Crew
Los Angeles Startups
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.
×
LA Startups Crew
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.