A ProWeb Associates, Inc. Partner
Local search has evolved into a complex and unpredictable form of online marketing with Google at the helm. Both Corporations and mom-and-pop shops need to make best out of local Internet marketing because its importance will continue to grow in the local business space.
My hope is that these tips will be able to make some sense of local internet marketing and to help you grow your business.
Websites are an excellent tool to accomplish objectives. Regardless of company size, all websites should bring you closer to your predetermined goals. Some examples of goals could be:
- Acquiring new customers
- Generating more leads
- Branding your company
- Lowering sales resistance
Objectives are too obscure. This is why we need specific goals. Without getting into too much detail, measurement is a yardstick to determine how close you are coming to your predefined goals. To learn more about measurement models, you can read this post by Avinash Kaushik.
The Value of a Customer Over a Lifetime
Regardless of business size, every company should know what the average lifetime value of a customer is. This value is critical in helping you determine ROI (Return on Investment) for any marketing or advertising you may consider. If you need to learn how to calculate this you can use this handy calculator made by Harvard Business School.
Starting From The Ground Up
Local Search is about data. It’s about distributing that data across many platforms and technologies. It’s about insuring accuracy and consistency. If Google notices an abundance of consistent information about your business, called citations, it will make them think you have a legitimate business, are important, and you get rewarded with improved search visibility.
NAP, in Local Search is not a short restful sleep. It stands for name, address and phone number. Your NAP is the minimum basic requirement you should include in your online data. Companies called Aggregators build and maintain large databases of business data.
Why Data Aggregators Are Important
They can provide and distribute business data to search engines, local information platforms and industry directories. If the data they have stored for your business is inaccurate, it can become inaccurate all over the place. Data aggregators take their data seriously. To verify information often requires access to phone information, domain email and sometimes even scans of official documents.
Citations are nothing more than mentions of your business NAP, however, citation quality can vary and there are different types of citations. Some examples of citations are:
- Your website
- Internet Yellow Pages
- Local Business Directories
- Industry Websites
- Event Websites
- Citation Sites
Want to try your hand at claiming a Citation?
Here is short list of some of the most important ones:
Researching specific industry and niche sites is also a good idea.
For Lawyers, Avvo.com is a good example and for manufacturers, ThomasNet.com
Make Your Website Search Friendly
While citations can provide some level of success, your website is the platform you can totally control. Without getting too technical, learn about site architecture, mobile, mobile apps and who your target audience is. Performance and crawlability are still very important. Titles, headings and body text play an important role as well. Providing a search friendly website to search engines can pay big dividends for localized businesses.
Pay Attention to Market Research and Keywords
Understand how people are searching for your services online and what devices they use most to research. There is nothing more tragic or costly than using the wrong information when promoting your business online. Gathering the right local keyword data has always been a challenge and Google’s recent decision to withhold organic keyword data hasn’t made it any easier. There are still many tools available, a few you may consider are:
- SEOBook Keyword Tool
- Bing’s Keyword Tool
- Google’s Keyword Planner
Testimonials and content that provides value to the consumer is an important factor. If your business is local, talk local. Provide information that helps and will encourage online searchers to share with others. Recent changes made by Google have made it very important to provide “value” in what you write. The more people talk about your company the better. Provide content on a regular schedule that people want to read and share. Connect with local news agencies, charities and bloggers. Following is a list of ideas for creating links to various local places and organizations:
- Join Business Associations
- Join Industry Associations
- Consider Charity Work
- Industry Websites
- Organized Local Events
- Local Directories
- Local Blogs
Building Trust With Online Reviews
With local search, nothing carries more weight than online reviews from satisfied customers. People are more willing to believe the opinion of a total stranger than anything they read on your website. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your most enthusiastic customers and kindly ask them to share their comments on a local discussion board or directory. You should always follow review guidelines and never offer an incentive for this gesture.
Social media means so many different things to different people. For local businesses, social media is a platform to connect with both your existing clients and potential new customers. Giving your customers the power and the means to recommend your services to friends and family is priceless. It’s amazing how many local businesses fail to understand this practice. Here is an article to learn more about who uses what in social media. There are a multitude of options to use when it comes to social media, but is doesn’t have to be as difficult as you think. A good start in social media for business is to find where your target audience hangs out online and develop an active presence there. There are tools that can make your social media efforts easier like HooteSuite or SocialOomph.
Coming Full Circle
I have attempted to touch on some of the more important aspects of local search in hopes of more local companies realizing the importance of developing a local online presence beyond having a single website. There is a multitude of information we have not covered and many hot topics that could provide additional insights into the local landscape. I would suggest focusing on improving the quality of your customer interactions and remember that providing an amazing experience online will help your customers share and recommend your products and/or services for you. Pay attention to the needs of your customers and your customers will fall in love with you. That’s what internet marketing should really mean to any local business.
Mark Kessler is the founder and owner of MarkITtrends Consulting in Lancaster PA
Should you decide to consider an outside source to learn more about the local landscape of online
marketing, or for help managing your local online presence visit www.MarkITtrendsConsulting.com