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1. Introduction

If what is stopping you from creating an online presence is where and how to start, then we’ve got good news. By opting for a WordPress-powered website, you will get all of these benefits, plus a lot more. You can draw more traffic, possibly through community-based content and collaboration with local businesses and organizations, while discussing local events and projects happening in your community. How does WordPress help with all of these aspects? In the next lines, we will present you with some of the main reasons for using WordPress as your platform of choice, discuss the peculiarities of building a website for a small, local business, and then suggest a variety of useful plugins for strengthening your community interactivity online through your WordPress-powered website.

In today’s digital age, having an online presence and making your business’ voice heard on various online spaces are critical for every business, especially for local establishments. With the fast increase of internet usage in virtually all segments of the population, having a strong online presence as a local business is more important than ever. Your business should appear in online searches, be included in local business listings, and, if possible, have a presence on social media, especially on community-based platforms and groups. This way, you can not only pull additional traffic to your website, but also get more people to come to your physical establishment in person. This deepens your community-related connections and contributes to the footprint of your business.

2. Benefits of WordPress for Local Businesses

Since the days of its launch, WordPress has been user-friendly and easy to manage. With just an hour of tutoring, the site or the content on it can be up and functioning. Besides, WordPress has impressive pre-release features such as in-place updating and upgrade support, integration with databases, galleries, videos, social networking, and integration with multiple monitors. These features have not only improved WordPress in small increments but have also made blogging easier. Separately logging in as an author and then re-publishing are no longer required. It’s the real-time instant updates and future trend of WordPress development will be focusing on the ease of usage. Concentrating on trends, security consultants all over the globe are anticipating to see more porturing attacks by exploiting design shortcomings to unleash WordPress-related data to hackers.

The ubiquity of WordPress comes from the numerous plugins it offers. It helps a business establish basic tools for any online business, such as search-engine friendliness, use of Google Analytics, social media integration, and e-commerce plugin to help sell products via a website. In addition, there are a number of plugins that can bring specific features to the site, such as those to make interactive forms, to add a slider to the site, or to organize content based on topic. In all, WordPress promises a lovely blend of creativity and convenience – being creative in setting up and designing a site or managing content, and not having to worry about technical stuff.

2.1 Easy Website Management

At the same time, WordPress offers you back administrative control so that you (yes, you!) can manage the design and messaging of your site. Plugins and tools even allow you to change themes if you want to refresh the look of your site in a few clicks. Imagine that: a fresh new look in minutes and as often as you wish, without erasing all your other content, such as your services, products, and customer reviews. With maximum cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and convenience at your service, offering quality content and making instant updates to showcase the benefits of your physical location will be a no-brainer. This means you’ll re-engage your (post-) pandemic leads who will spread your word across social media and through real-life interactions in the community.

You don’t have time to become a web designer or to be J.K. Rowling. You need an effective website: dynamic, gorgeous, and user-friendly. More than that, you need a website that you can manage yourself… without the need to spend a gazillion hours trying to fix or redesign it. If you can use a word processor, you can use WordPress. Many businesses start with a pretty and functional website only to realize that when they need to make changes, their not-so-user-friendly website is not that easy to update. WordPress takes that stress away from you with hundreds of preexisting design templates (themes) created to make your website great-looking and user-friendly, right out of the box.

2.2 Cost-Effective Solution

Small businesses typically do not have money to spend on development. WordPress is a free product and can be downloaded for installation. With the pre-built themes and templates that are also free for use, even small businesses can more easily afford a website. As mentioned earlier, many small businesses tend to hire web development companies to create and manage their website. The web developer typically uses and updates the site, freeing the business owner to work in other areas of the business. The problem is, most web developers typically charge anywhere from $100 to $500 to design and launch the website and can also charge a weekly or monthly maintenance fee. The cost is a major reason some small businesses decide against a website. However, a business owner may want to keep their costs down and opt to learn the system themselves, taking their WordPress website as their own content manager.

Local business owners can often find the cost of setting up a modern, professional website out of reach. With WordPress, anyone can establish a web presence with limited technical skills, saving time and money. WordPress simplifies the use of styling and content themes. Web accessories, templates, headers, footers, and navigation buttons are crucial components to include on a WordPress site. As the internet becomes increasingly mobile, WordPress provides easy ways to create mobile-optimized websites. A recent statistic reveals that 80% of internet users are using smartphones and tablets to browse the web. Fortunately, WordPress has responded by creating open-source themes that automatically adjust the appearance of websites based on the device used to view them.

2.3 Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Friendly

Another plugin – Yoast, works as a guide with hints and tips to make sure that your website is optimized for searches. WordPress is considered to be an excellent starting point for local businesses who want to get the attention of search engines; more so than traditional websites. With the right features and SEO, organic search listings show whether the website is an authority in its market by being at the top. Those businesses presently looking to actively invest in SEO could benefit long term. In fact, any business can. For example, in response to this question “What are the most important terms for small and medium-sized companies in local search and what can these businesses do if they want to optimize for them?”. It is clear that having that initial web presence is key to being considered by Google. Therefore, having a web presence using WordPress with the correct community engagement techniques would hence be a good start.

The core benefit of using WordPress is that Google loves websites that are built using it. The software behind local businesses is specifically engineered to make sure it gets the limelight on search engines. Search engine success takes time and effort through optimization – which isn’t as simple as it should be. Fortunately, WordPress makes it incredibly easy. The platform comes with a number of web-optimizing plugins helping you create the perfect title, meta tags, keywords, and other tags that search engines need to see. The All in One SEO Pack, for example, is one of the most popular search optimization plugins out there, is free, and can be integrated with WordPress websites to improve SEO.

3. Leveraging Community Engagement with WordPress

Community engagement with local businesses, through the use of the WordPress site and its extensions, provides knowledge about the products and services. Local businesses engage customers by enhancing valuable knowledge through brainstorming sessions and tactics, such as forums, polls, and feedback about their products and services. A community moreover assists local businesses in building trust with customers, increasing customer inquiries about products or services. The more awareness and interest created, the more people interested. Engaging a community of people through questionnaires, information servicing, and subjective feedback can generate a very profitable result and provide an idea well ahead of the product launch. A small investment in making feedback from the community must be a part of a long-term strategic plan. This approach could pay off with more significant sales when the product is brought to the marketplace.

WordPress has come a long way since its beginning in 2003 as a simple blogging tool. It is now one of the world’s most widely used website development platforms. But most importantly, it uses the power of community to engage and interact with people or organizations sharing a common purpose. This community-based approach focuses on the concept of community engagement. In this digital age, local businesses are currently turning to community engagement strategy to attract, engage, and retain customers. Community engagement has been implemented at its best through a WordPress themed site with the use of forums, polls, feedback, reviews, news, stories, branding, and events.

3.1 Building an Online Community

Giving visibility and connecting local businesses and people — All small businesses and entrepreneurs you know, and probably most of your acquaintances, can and should also share the company’s business card online. This is going to be one of the best ways of consolidating its online presence, gaining visibility and potential clients, and demonstrating the strength of your network’s close community. Once you are walking in the office area for a coffee in your local bookstore, lunch at a nearby restaurant, or after work at the gym, have you ever pondered how the people running these small local businesses work hard and how you meet them every day, and how much more business you could attain from your local community website? Think of the potential of a network to bring them their next sales opportunity. A local community website should function as a flexible forum that caters to the needs of the public in a local area. This kind of website should be tailor-fit for the local community and it can include events and local interest-oriented content.

Building an online community — It is crucial to realize that your blog must put all the efforts into building a real and relevant community around it. You should make use of the best social networks (preferably local ones), make local partners, whether they are humans or institutions, and start creating networking strategies in these and alternative channels. An extremely useful approach can also be to write about subjects that are “shareable”, like success stories, for example, of high-achievers in the area. People like sharing positive content like that. Refrain from discussing frugal subjects. You should also make use of online events, namely on a platform that is tailored for local events. Creating a very well-structured and regularly updated blog on its own doesn’t guarantee an audience.

3.2 Engaging Customers through Blogging

In this article, you’ll get acquainted with the WordPress blogging platform, understand its impact on search engine ranking, understand the positive association it has with customers, and types of blog you could engage in for boosting your small business presence. In other words, given how much time we already invest in our brands, learning how to engage our customer base through WordPress is essential! Blogs are a simple platform to communicate with your market: if you have a physical location, if you have a traditional customer base, blogging can create a better communication channel. In other words, blogs can be an amazing platform for communication with your local market. Blogs are an amazing platform for search results, because blogs will affect your search ranking for users with particular interests or long tails.

WordPress unlocks a world of endless possibilities. Customer engagement is critical for a business, which is the goal of any business at the end of the day, to keep the customers coming back for repeat business, to transform casual enquirers into paying customers, to generate sales. Good communication with your target audience through WordPress blog can engage customers, help you understand their needs and develop a more efficient way of showcasing your products to them. WordPress’s built-in blogging platform is the reason why every website owner should engage in blogging. Community engagement allows for open conversations between local businesses and residents, humanizing which in turn, humanizes the brand, creates rapport and makes a connection between them, making them feel more comfortable and engaged. It represents a fantastic way to boost a brand, and to present it as an authority within a niche.

3.3 Integrating Social Media Platforms

Ultimately, social media platforms can become an effective arsenal to connect with the locality of the business. Hosting events can be another great way to connect with the local community and marketplace. By showcasing content about the business, one can communicate the brand proposition, create a meaningful connection, and engage new visitors. With the WordPress event management plugin, the user can create a custom-designed event calendar to increase awareness of forthcoming events, monitor RSVPs, and share information easily with attendees. Another way one can integrate events is by using an embeddable widget to showcase an events calendar directly on the WordPress website. A small local store can build a sign-up form to encourage their community to register for regular newsletters and updates while also giving email subscribers a head start on promotions and event invitations.

In order to market a small business and connect with customers, one needs to have a strong social media presence. Nowadays, most local businesses use social media platforms to engage with their audience, build brand awareness, and grow their business. Since a blog is an essential part of a hosted WordPress website, it is easy to share the latest news, promotions, and discounts quickly and conveniently. Social media feeds can be embedded within the blog posts as well, as it is a powerful tool to help businesses reach new customers and grow their follower base.

4. Success Stories: Local Businesses Thriving with WordPress

Mark, passionate about his ravioli, decided to put his dedicated site in 2003. Inexplicably, the beginning was difficult and the premises were far from good. Mark then decided to change his operating base and, in 2007, he reached the best results with some corporate presentations. Mark’s desire to share the goodness and originality of his business convinced him to genius to create a dedicated blog, which combined the initial work with WordPress. The results did not go unnoticed on the web and the Merending Italian site also made the cover of the American magazine The Word, which dedicated an entire article. The tools obtained from the Mark blog, through the use of plugins, have allowed not only to produce special articles and to follow a lot of content but also to manage the commercial part of the website.

We may think of WordPress as a platform designed for bloggers, making it the last choice for an online store; or a customizable content management system for bloggers equipped with small virtual shops already navigated by the customer to buy handmade soaps. Instead, among the first one million websites in 2021, a remarkable 38% chose WordPress to host their e-commerce and small businesses are conquering up to 60% of the share consisting of the various services necessitated for the management of a winning serious marketplace. Contrary to popular belief, WordPress has become a best-in-class and chosen by small businesses, artists, and professionals just to name a few. Here you’ll find a collection of stories from non-tech-savvy shopkeepers, fine dining restaurant owners, freelancers, engineers, and independent craftspeople who chose a technology that is not: and it’s one of WordPress’s data that was proposed by WebHostingRating to find out about their experience.

4.1 Case Study 1: XYZ Bakery

The homepage prominently announces the brick-and-mortar location to all locals by proudly displaying a map and directions. The welcoming messaging encourages people to stop by and see the show. The website uses portraits of its employees to create a feeling of friendship and community. This welcoming feeling needs to be reinforced with the content of the site. The friendly headshots show the employees’ faces and help the customers recognize them when they visit. Some of the employees in the pictures are also the cake decorators and cake bakers. It’s a natural step to ask for them by name when placing an order. After all, when we know the baker’s name, that person becomes the preferred choice for our scarce free time. More than half of the customers visiting the site are newcomers, and some may have heard only passing recommendations on the street. Providing a preview of the store ambiance and the daily hustle and bustle inside is important to show that the bakery is really the best in town, as current customers attest.

Business 1: XYZ Bakery, Brandon FL. This bakery was chosen because it is located in a small town in Florida, and they depend solely on local word-of-mouth advertising. They eschew traditional marketing avenues and instead rely on word-of-mouth and local customers. The family didn’t even know yet how to interpret Google Analytics data. We conducted a deep-dive analysis of this site to see how a local business could engage its local audience.

4.2 Case Study 2: ABC Fitness Studio

After the launch of the revitalized website, the owner could use the site to reach out to a broader audience. Currently, there are over 100 clients who participate in the instructor-led sessions. Encouraged by the growing support of the community, they offered a 60-day fitness challenge in the fall, available to ABC Fitness and any inquiring families, individuals and busy people in surrounding areas. Enthusiasm for this event was strong and sixteen students were committed to the program. Due to a combination of excellent health and lifestyle choices, these students have lost 60 lbs. and 29 inches altogether. Community engagement is crucial. One community member was very pleased with ABC Fitness and commented that the challenge was humbling but felt great to see and experience these significant results. A local monthly periodical, with a readership of around 15,000, publisher offered to highlight future fitness challenges or similar events held by the fitness studio. Indeed, the hard work of the proprietress and the growth of enveloping community have their rewards. The studio has broadened and expanded its services to include nutrition and medical fitness. Leadership at ABC Fitness pledge to continue working closely with clients to develop new growth and artistically driven programs. As is evident, community engagement has certainly impacted the studio in a very positive manner.

ABC Fitness is a fitness studio located in Montclair, New Jersey. ABC Fitness initially set up their website ten years ago. They included certain features to showcase their services and provide the public with means to contact them. Over time, the website was not promoted effectively and lapsed into a dormant state. The owner depended mostly on word of mouth and did little marketing and promotion. After working in another organization for a few years, she finally wanted to rejuvenate ABC Fitness. A strategic move to shake the dust off her sleeping studio was to pitch an idea to offer a free community-building yoga classes event in the local park. Despite the clashing of yoga mats with a few scheduled holidays, the free community yoga classes were a hit among locals who were looking for a healthy, not to mention, fun, way to spend time. Every Friday in July, there were over 20 people who did yoga together. At the close of one of the classes, the event-goers expressed thanks and were interested in learning more about what ABC Fitness has to offer.

4.3 Case Study 3: DEF Boutique

The initial investment is approximately $120. The principal expenses incurred are in the purchase of a domain from the Namecheap website. In the same year, Tuyishime attended the WooCommerce product launch in Kigali, Rwanda. After the training, Tuyishime learnt about modern technological know-how and online business. Currently, Tuyishime has his website and Facebook. The website offers a variety of products. Tuyishime uses WordPress CMS and WooCommerce Platform. The boutique now has more than 10,000 potential customers from different social media platforms who can shop online through the website. Tuyishime explains that he uses WooCommerce, CRM, and other social media platforms effectively, which can reach more people. Tuyishime encourages people to use what they learn from the workshop and he is happy now and will use the internet to get what he needs: business to grow and sales to increase.

The Elite Fashion Boutique (DEF Boutique) is a retail business in Kigali. The DEF Boutique specializes in selling trendy men and women’s clothes, watches, handbags, and other fashion accessories of all ages. The boutique was founded in 2012 by Patrick Tuyishime. Patrick made a decision to design a website for his store and Facebook a few years after launching the boutique. Tuyishime chose WordPress from the beginning because of its user-friendliness. Tuyishime started his website with the Reno display of products obtained from the online store. Tuyishime saw the power of WordPress. Realizing the potential that WordPress and WooCommerce had in promoting products to a larger audience, DEF Open source selected the design of the Commerce (WooCommerce) extension for its online platform, which is completely user-friendly. WooCommerce allowed the sale of product variabilities, including size and color. Tuyishime also worked with Pigarage, a Kigali-based startup, which developed against the real estate sector. Pigarage team helped Tuyishime integrate the Drupal-based CRM with Pigarage to help it manage its online platforms: Facebook, website, and blog.

Ready to discover wonders? Step in and encounter what truly sets us apart!

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