Local search is trending up for 2011. In April 2011, local search changed when Google released Google Places, which is designed to better organize the world’s businesses. Since April, over 50 million companies have been added to Google Places. If you’re not one of them, you’re behind. The first thing to do is claim your Google Places listing immediately. But this is just one aspect of local search. It is difficult to predict where local search will be in the coming years, especially considering the influence mobile devices may or may not have on it. So it is silly to predict local search as a gold mine for your business. However, the risk-reward ratio of investing in local search makes it worth your while. It is relatively easy to dominate the local listings because there are far few businesses competing for the search space. Local listing is an easy to increase your online exposure, and the cost is not high.
Of course, there is more to local search than what is trending for 2011. Here’s everything you need to know about local search.
Local Search Engine Optimization
When nearby customers or clients want to find your business or are looking for any business like yours, having the right local search engine optimization techniques in place will make the difference between being found or not being found. Not many business owners that run physical stores or establishments place enough value on their internet presence, simply because they don’t sell their items online.
However, many customers and clients will use the internet before shopping in person in order to confirm your location and hours, and a good website can also impel them to walk through your front door in the first place. Without the right local search engine optimization techniques, you may not be found at all and you can miss out on a large portion of your business. Failure to take advantage of local search engine optimization techniques also means missing out on the opportunities to create customers and clients for yourself through this means of Internet advertising.
One thing you can do to quickly increase and improve upon your local search engine optimization is to ensure that your website is created in a way that takes full advantage of SEO tactics. When someone searches online for a type of business, you need to make sure that you have those same words and phrases on your site so that it can be found by those searching. It’s not enough to just have nice pictures of your inventory or to use words that aren’t readily used by those searching; you must use those keywords or keyword phrases to improve your local search engine optimization.
If you’re not sure of how this works, it’s good to consult with a professional company that handles this aspect of website design and creation for you. They can evaluate your website and give you recommendations for how to improve the use of keywords for local search engine optimization.
Another simple thing you can do is to be sure you’ve submitted your site to the many different search engines that offer local searches in your area. You may assume that Yahoo and Google are the only two that people use; they may be the most popular but they’re not the only players in the game! There are probably dozens of sites to which you want to submit your website for local search engine optimization; an online search yourself can yield many good results. They typically walk you through the process of submitting your site to their search engine, and this is needed for the best local search engine optimization.
And it’s always good to consult with a professional company that handles local search engine optimization if you’re serious about the best results possible. This company can not only evaluate your site but also those search engines and advise you on your advertising opportunities. They will know of the different options you have, their cost and projected result, and they can help you to decide on the best choices for your business.
Local Search Engine Marketing
When you have a business that relies on local customers or clients, it’s imperative that you understand and take full advantage of local search engine marketing. This means being found online when Internet users search for a business like yours, and advertising on those search engines and sites as well.
No matter your business or industry, when your customers are local you need to maintain a local Internet presence. This includes not just storefronts and retail locations but businesses like doctor’s offices, apartment buildings, and daycare providers. Without the right local search engine marketing you’re likely to lose business to competitors as they are easier to find and are also building that name recognition through the use of the Internet.
There are some things you can do to quickly and easily improve your local search engine marketing techniques. One thing to consider is making sure you’ve submitted your business information to those search engines; remember that people will use more than the larger sites for finding local businesses. A quick search yourself of smaller search engines that advertise locally will help you to find the ones to whom you should submit information. Just doing this will improve your local search engine marketing immediately.
Purchasing ad space on these will also help your local search engine marketing; those ads are typically very affordable since the traffic is obviously not as high as you would get from national sites. However, this ad space is very important because you know it will reach the local consumers and potential customers. This is a vital consideration when you do any advertising online; getting visitors to your site is not as important as making sure that those visitors are potential customers and clients. When you take advantage of local search engine marketing, you know you’re getting quality visitors, not just quantity.
Your site itself will also affect the way that local search engine marketing responds and its results; if your site is not user-friendly and does not contain the information that potential customers and clients need, it will do you no good. You always want to have basic information on your site about your store’s or business’ hours, location, and things like these, but you need to take your local search engine marketing one step further and give those customers a reason to visit your business.
This may mean coupons, sales, discounts, photographs of your inventory, price lists, and things such as these. Think of what draws you to a store or business from the local search engine marketing you see and consider that. When a customer or client notices information that convinces them to frequent your business, then you know that your local search engine marketing is working in harmony with your site, but you can’t have one without the other. A professional company that specializes in web presence and in advertising for websites can be of great assistance in evaluating your needs in particular and in creating an advertising plan for you.
Marketing Tips for Local Search
Most small to medium sized businesses are heavily dependent on their geographic area for customers. An exterminator in Pennsylvania, therefore, is not aiming to attract homeowners from Florida to their business website. There are several things that local businesses can do in order to target their advertising to reach local consumers. Here are some tips for hosting a successful local Internet marketing campaign:
1. Local SEO- You want to ensure that you are optimizing your website and web content using geographically targeted local search engine optimization as opposed to generic SEO. It is important to make sure your website is thoroughly optimized for local searches. This includes both visible content such as what appears on the website, your web address, and your headings as well as invisible content like meta tags. There are a variety of different keyword analysis programs that can help you determine the best keywords to use for your particular industry in your particular area. You can also consult with a local Internet marketing agency with assistance in implementing locally driven SEO.
2. Talk to Locals- An important component to quality local internet marketing is to touch base with the community through your blog and social media sites. Find other businesses in your area, friend them or follow their blog, and make comments regularly. Making your presence in the local community known through the Internet is a great way to attract potential clients.
3. Blog All About It- Blogging is a vital part of Internet marketing today. Businesses that have a blog receive up to 55% more traffic to their website on average than similar businesses that don’t blog. If you use local search engine optimization in your blog and talk about blogging you will attract locals. You can use your blog to discuss your place in the industry, the services you offer and why, and even talk about jobs that you have completed in the past. This information will help to bring customers in to your website and hopefully convert to sales.
4. Review Sites- Always sign your business up for review sites. Millions of people search the web each day for reviews on local businesses before they even bother to visit the business. Word of mouth is extremely important to a good local advertising campaign. Having your site visible on the various online review boards around the internet can greatly increase your chance of being found, provide you with inbound links, and help to improve your reputation. Asking your customers to add reviews to the various sites you have joined is a good way to get your reputation started. Even if you get a poor review from time to time, as long as the overwhelming majority of your reviews are positive you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
5. Local Directories- Local directories on the web work to benefit you in many of the same ways that review sites do. Getting your site listed within a local directory for your given area is just another way to get your name out to the people who you are targeting.