Local Search Optimization: A Local Business Marketing Guide
Supposing you have a local business targeting customers from within a particular geo-location (e.g. a catering company serving San Diego, California), then you can make use of the Internet to reach more prospective customers – by building business presence for local search. Local marketing is one very important Internet marketing step you can take to bring your business to the next level.
Below is an example of a Google search generating business websites that are optimized locally.
What does local marketing mean?
The term ‘local’ can have different meanings from different people. But I think Mike Bluementhal, a reputable local search and web marketing consultant, has delivered a very clear insight by defining local marketing as:
“all and any of the Internet options that are available for marketing of physical location on the Internet – driving people (prospective customers) to your door, driving phone calls, driving sales. It’s anything but based around a physical location of business.”
In that sense, therefore, you can have SEO, Social, and Ads such as PPC – among other marketing techniques – as part of your campaigns. But the goal is always local. Great local presence means more prospects for local business and therefore more conversions.
How to start with local campaign? And what are the most important things to consider?
There are three important things you need to consider (should be part of your core goal) as you start your local campaign:
1. You do it for business discovery – lots of people go online looking for something (e.g. buy products; download resources; avail services).
2. For business recovery – potential customers look for business information such as business phone numbers, business address, email address, etc. Provide them what they need.
3. For business marketing – you reach out to more prospects, turn them into paying customers, and build a solid business relation with them.
Starting your local campaign
To start with your local campaign, consider the following steps:
Step 1: Build a website or blog
Building a quality website or blog that could best represent your business online is an important step to start your local campaign off right. You can have it built on WordPress (it’s a user-friendly platform) or you can hire a web developer to build a website from scratch for you (if you find building one on your own complex and time consuming). Isn’t Facebook fan page good enough? It’s free. – You might ask. Well, it definitely should be part of your online campaign but it is better to have a place on the Internet where you have full control and that’s your website. Your business website should serve as the terminal point for your prospects. It is the place where you send people from all your Internet marketing efforts. It is your business foundation online.
Step 2: Submit your business websites to local directories
Once your business website is built and optimized (on-page), it’s time to submit it to local directories such as Google Places (now Google+ Local), Yahoo Local Listing, Bing Local Listing. (Here’s a list of more local directories)
Important local submission tips:
Consistency – that means you need to submit one unique name, logo or profile image across different directories. Uniformity is the key for effective branding.
Fixed or dedicated numbers – whether you use one or more numbers for customers to contact, they must be official. Do not include contact information on your listing that do not work or no longer working as it could ruin your credibility.
Detailed – making your local listing information more detailed or complete makes your local business listing more appealing and more informative to potential customers and therefore could bring more leads. You can add videos, images, affiliations, etc. – aside from the basic business profile information.
Step 3: Claim you business listing
Submission is not the final phase of local directory listing – you need to claim it. Most (if not all) local directories require users to verify their listings to prove that they own or they are authorized to submit those listings. PIN codes/numbers are used for verifications, which are usually given to you through phone or postcard delivery. Other directories send verifications through email.
Website Submission to Google Places / Google+ Local
Step 1: Create a Google Places / Google+ Local account, click here. (Or you can use your Gmail account if you have one to login to Google Places).
Step 2: Fill out the form with all the important information you have for your website.
Step 3: Submit your listing
Step 4: Claim your listing (It could take 2 to 3 business weeks for a verification code to arrive via postcard).
Step 5: Enter the verification code you received from Google to validate your listing.
Getting more traffic for your local business website
After you have submitted your business website to local directories, it is time to tap other online marketing platforms to generate even more traffic and potential customers. You can do the following:
Build E-mail list and use it connect with your prospects
The traffic your website generates from local search allows you to build an email list (e.g through your opt-in funnel). Make use of these emails to generate more traffic by sending your prospects with announcements, updates, promotions, special offers, etc. This is one way to keep them going back to your website.
Social reach out
You can integrate you local business to your social profiles. For instance, you can add your Google Map to your Facebook page and there are several ways to do that. (Checkout this useful guide to Google Map-Facebook integration)
Google AdWords Express
You can also have the option of going for PPC advertising and you can start it with GAE. Unlike the main AdWords program, this platform is designed specifically for local businesses. Google says ‘it is the easiest way to advertise’ on its network.
The Internet provides great yet cost effective ways to reach more prospects that can eventually turn into paying customers. Start your local search marketing today and take your business to the next level.
About the author: Roy Van is a writer/link builder from Agents of Value. He has prior experience with working together with a web developer in order to optimize a particular website. You can a hire a web developer from us to work with a link builder, to maintain and market your website properly.
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