Local Online Marketing – For small business?

Why Local Search Is So Important Today

Google, Yahoo, Bing and the other search engines have changed the way we shop. Instead of locating your copy of the yellow pages, we now simply log on to our favorite search engine and type in the service needed and city, and voila’, several businesses appear for us to select from. The question is, when consumers are looking for the goods and services you offer, does your business appear? Optimizing business listings and profiles can make all the difference in enabling potential customers to find you and in selecting you from your pack of competitors.

Today there are well over 10 billion unique searches done each month, and that’s just in the United States! Of those searches,

  • 42% of queries have Local intent
  • 30% of all searches contain a city, state, or zip
  • 82% of local searches result in an offline (brick and mortar) action
  • 50% of offline brick and mortar purchases are preceeded by an online search
  • There are over 53 million smart phones in the US
  • Mobile internet traffic is exploding, double digit monthly growth
  • Smart phones pull data from local listings

On Yahoo alone, 100 Million unique visitors per month search with “local intent” . It is estimated that there are 2.6 billion local searches per month. We’ve seen Google in addition to other search engines make dramatic shifts in how they return results, and all the trends point to the importance of Local.

On top of that data, smart phone sales are booming: by 2013, Morgan Stanley has estimated that smartphone sales will eclipse desktop and laptop sales combined. Respected technology experts around the world think the world of mobile search is ready to take now. In some places around the world, like Japan, many of these technologies are already in place. They’re in use even in the United States, with more sophisticated devices like the iPhone. Mobile searches are primarily going to pull their results from Local Search Engines.

All of this is to say:

The potential to attract new customers via Local Search is enormous.

Here at StoneFly Marketing we are the experts at getting your local business listing noticed by more potential customers. As a business owner you can claim your business listings with major search engines for free, and that’s a great first step. If you have not claimed your local business listings yet, do it now, or call us at 1.877.630.2515 so  we can help.

Unfortunately, just claiming your local listing is not enough if your goal is to be seen by many more potential new customers, your listings needs to be optimized, and managed correctly in order to benefit  from the potentially enormous exposure your business can truly have with local optimization.

Your Business Title

Small details play an important roll in correctly setting up your local listing. Things like your business title can be one of the most important factors for ranking well in the Local search engines. Having a title that remains consistent across all data sources is key, because it helps the search engines establish trust in the existence and location of your business.

If your business calls itself “Matt’s Cleaning Service” in one directory and “Matt’s dry cleaning service” in another directory, there is a chance that Google and the other search engines might see that as two separate businesses when it comes to the indexing process. Matt should pick ONE title for his business and ensure that he adds himself to whichever directories he chooses (including the print Yellow Pages) using the same business title.

Including the correct keywords in your business title will help also help you rank better  But if you abuse this: and you try to stuff TOO many keywords into your business title, the search engines will find out about it and may penalize your business.

We recommend describing exactly what you do. In the case above, “Matt’s Dry Cleaning” is preferable to plain old “Matt’s Cleaning Service.” It is a more descriptive business title and may pull in additional searchers (and customers) as a result.

 

Links and Citations

Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines find out about your business in two primary ways:

1) Visiting links that point to your website, and tracking on what sites those links appear.

2) Tracking citations of your business, and on what sites these citations appear.

The search engines use these factors extensively in determining where to rank a particular business. All other things being equal, the business with the most links from high-quality websites in your area (like a chamber of commerce or a city government) and most citations from high-quality websites in your area, will rank the highest. So you will want to make sure to get your name, contact information, and website on as many places as you can.

What Are Citations?

Citations are defined as “mentions” of your business name and address on other webpages, even if there is no link to your website. An example of a citation might be an online yellow pages directory where your business is listed, but not linked to. It can also be a local chamber of commerce, or a local business association where your business information can be found, even if they are not linking at all to your website . You may also see the term “web references” used on other websites—a synonym for “citations”.

Reviews and Ratings

It starting to become more evident that Reviews and are having more influence to a business ranking position, all reviews and ratings aren’t created equal, having your business reviewed and rated by consumers on the right sites is critical. In addition, reviews and ratings are very persuasive to prospective customers when it comes to your business actually receiving a call or email. A bad review can encourage to perform another search, and a good review can encourage someone to pick up the phone and call you!

Having a systematic game plan to maximize reviews is an extremely  important an often overlooked step when it comes to internet marketing. It’s important to engage all of your customers, and to get your best customers to leave a review of your business on their preferred search engine or portal. Likewise, it’s important to recognize when someone has left a negative review of your business. Reach out to that customer and find out why they had a bad experience with your company, and see if there is anything you can do to change their opinion of you. You need to know what’s being said about your business favorable or unfavorable at all times therefore managing your online reputation with an effective  reputation management plan ensures long term success.

Photos / Videos

Attractive photos and videos have been shown to increase the number of clicks that a particular listing gets. They generally offer a great way to show off your business—either projects that your company has worked on, some of the people in your office, your office itself, etc. A human stamp (or a professional stamp) can help you stand out in an otherwise flat playing field.

Other Attributes

A simple step that a lot of small business owners overlook is to list your contact information on your own website in a format that the search engines can read. If, for whatever reason, you’d rather not list it on your homepage, or on every page of your website, at the very least you should set up a clear “Contact Us” page which displays your address and phone number.

 


At StoneFly Marketing, we believe that knowledge is power. To that end, we have decided to make this blog, and more, available to our readers at no charge. If you can use anything here, feel free. To say it is purely an exercise in Philanthropy, however, wouldn’t be entirely true. I’m assuming that more than a few of you see the value in this – yet lack the time, knowledge, or desire to manage your local online marketing program.

I know some folks who can help with that…whistling emoticon

They can be reached by clicking on the “Contact” tab at the top of this page. Thanks!

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StoneFly - Local Online Marketing
70111 Fir Rd.
Niles, MI 49120
Phone: 1.877.630.2515
www.stoneflymarketing.com
nick@stoneflymarketing.com