To small businesses, the benefit of dabbling in local search is clear: Get found by a geographically relevant group of customers who are in search of the product and/or service you offer. What a concept—real-time interaction and a high conversion rate to boot!
However, the process by which you properly establish your small business in the local search world can be confusing to some, downright maddening to others. Take Angelo’s mom for instance. If you can ignore the talk of the devil and the image of her spitting down her own shirt, you might be able to relate to the frustrations here. Like a desktop PC for technologically hesitant parents over 55, online marketing is a mysterious world that few small businesses have mastered on their own. So before getting stubborn and rejecting the process, read on for some simple insights into getting your business successfully integrated into local search …
Maybe you’ve got a web site and managed to get it listed on Internet yellow page sites. While you’re a step ahead of many, you can’t stop there. People search for products and services in plethora of ways online and the value of receiving incoming leads from multiple sites far outweighs the effort it takes to get listed. TMP Direction Marketing states that 62 percent of consumers will use either a search engine or a local search site to find a local business. Yellow page sites are used 19 percent of them time.
Additionally, chances are your competitors are listed on local search sites so what’s to stop a customer from purchasing from them if your information isn’t even available for viewing? Strategizing your listings according to your competition’s ad placements and local search listings can be vital to your success online.
Worried about brand building and personal interaction? Have no fear. Local search allows your business to get found by people expecting geographically relevant results. Like the yellow pages, consumers are often looking for a business’ physical location. TMP Direction Marketing’s recent local search usage study reported that 71 percent of consumers follow up online local searches with an in-store visit or phone call.
Don’t forget to establish your local search cred. With all the businesses out there looking to get found, Google and other sites have to take action in order to weed out the bad and provide valuable results to their users (i.e., your potential customers). However, you have the power to help take the guesswork out for your site and increase the level at which Google trusts your listing. The following steps will help your listing gain credibility and raise your chances of being found:
- Provide concise / relevant business descriptions and keywords so its clear what your business offers and how it should be categorized.
- Increase brand credibility by listing your business on consumer review sites such as CitySearch, Yelp.com, YellowPages.com and InsiderPages.com, and encourage satisfied customers to post reviews.
- Acquire citations. In the world of local search, citations are mentions of your business’ name that exist near a listing of your address and/or phone number. Citations give Google et al. the confidence to trust your listing and give you a better chance of being displayed as a result. Search engines will look for your citations across the entire web so make sure to be accurately listed in as many locations as possible including your web site, business listings, industry blogs, etc.
Local search is extremely fragmented. While there are a few key players, it’s a different game than traditional organic search. Pay attention to vertical local search and get your business listed on web sites that segment search according to industry. This, however, means more than getting listed. Vertical local search sites require you to be part of the conversation. Pay attention to how people rate your listings and respond to their feedback. It’s a much more personal setting than traditional search – consumers communicate with each other and a vote of confidence from one customer to another certainly can’t hurt! Plus, all those new listings you’ll create double as awesome citations. So go on—Take action and succeed online!
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