Why Local Search Could Be Your Greatest Marketing Asset
A 5-Minute Strategy to Help Brick-And-Mortar Businesses Rank Higher Than Online Competition
While large, national corporations can leverage sizable marketing resources and brand recognition to drive more traffic to their websites, there are simple strategies local businesses can adopt to attract the right kind of traffic—purchasing traffic—to their online properties.
Why Local Search Matters
With the infinite Internet, focusing marketing resources on online marketing may seem like too wide a net to cast. After all, what good is a visitor from Duluth, Minnesota, to your Denver, Colorado–based business? That is why local search has become a critical marketing component for brick-and-mortar businesses.
At a rapidly increasing rate, consumers are searching for neighborhood products and services online. With the rise of mobile devices and the death of the Yellow Pages, more and more people go online to search for store hours, restaurant reviews, and even tax accountants and realtors.
"The #1 way we search for products, services, and information is via search engines,” says Lorrie Thomas Ross, founder of Web Marketing Therapy, Inc. “Google searches average 60 to 70 percent of overall engine searches and engines can detect where a web user is, and that location is factored into the search result.”
The term local search is broadly defined as any search aimed at finding something within a specific geographic area. An example would be a search for downtown Chicago hotel. It also refers to people seeking information online with the intention of making a transaction offline. Examples of that would be hair salons near the St. Louis airport and dry cleaner on Colfax Avenue.
So, how do you improve your business’s local search ranking? Think in terms of your online presence, not just your website. When assessing the relevance of your business to a search term, Google algorithms weigh information from several sites. By improving the information about your business across all digital properties—including social media and review sites—you can attract more local customers to your site and to your business.
A Fast and Inexpensive Fix
“Local search is a low cost (and most times no cost) way to get visibility and credibility,” says Thomas Ross. “Any organization with an address in the geographic location where they do business can set up free local profiles on sites like Google+ and Yelp. When you set up your account, fill in all the fields; clearly communicate who you are, what you do, and whom you serve; and include photos and videos if you have them. Small businesses need to know that they do not need to hire a company to claim their local Google My Business listing. They also need to know that they cannot afford to not be there.”
Taking It to the Next Level
According to a Search Engine Land column by Chris Marentis, Founder and CEO of Surefire Social, much of local search is done on mobile devices. To truly optimize your website for better local traffic results, make sure your site fits on a mobile device screen. Convert your site to be mobile-responsive or create a mobile-specific site so visitors don’t have to pinch or scroll from side-to-side to see critical details, such as your business phone number, address and hours.
It is also important that visitors see this information and any other important details on the home page. You can’t expect mobile users to click around through your site.
Marentis also suggests you pay attention to your website’s load time. If your site is too slow on a mobile device, Google may penalize it in search rank.
Topics: SMALL BUSINESS
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