Nowadays, when consumers want to find information about a business in their local area, they turn to the Internet. The use of the Yellow Pages to find local business information is in rapid decline, which is why businesses are now competing for the top spot on the first page of the search engine results. Local search is a way for businesses to market themselves online to consumers in their local area. If you have no understanding of local search and what it entails, you are in danger of letting your competition leave you in the dust.
What is local search?
Local search is any activity that is targeted toward finding information about a local business using a search platform. A search platform could be anything from a search engine like Google, to an Internet yellow pages Website like Superpages.com.
Local SEO basics:
Currently, Google is the most widely-used search engine for local search. The Google Maps show consumers a wide variety of information including driving directions, contact information, a business description and a “click to call” option for mobile devices. Getting found in the Google Maps is a great starting point for any business that hasn’t started optimizing for local search.
90% of consumers start purchase decisions online. This is why making sure your business is found online is so important. The beauty of local Internet marketing is that you don’t need to have a Website in order to get found online. With a business listing, your company can get found in the Google Maps and Places results, which will give potential customers the necessary information they need to contact you.
The first step in getting found in the search engines is to submit your business information to various local directories. The most popular one is Google Places. In fact, unless your business is new, odds are you’re already listed in Google Places. But just because you’re listed doesn’t mean you’re all set. You need to claim, update and enhance your listing’s information in order to really get a leg up on the competition.
Many unclaimed listings have incorrect or outdated information that could be confusing to your customers as well as hurt your rankings in the search engines. This is why claiming your listing is so important. Claiming your listing also gives you the opportunity to optimize it for local search. Using relevant keywords and categories in your listing as well as providing as much information as possible to make your listing complete will help boost your local SEO and get you ahead of your competitors in the Map results. Adding enhancements like photos, videos, coupons and more helps increase your ranking and makes your customer’s local search experience more pleasant.
Once you’ve claimed your listing in Google Places, start submitting your business information to other top local directories such as Superpages.com, Merchant Circle, Yelp and more. One way to figure out which directories are the best is to perform a search on Google yourself. Think of a search term that you would like to appear on the search results for. Look at the local businesses that pop up in the results. These are your competitors. Make a note of where their listings are coming from. If you’re seeing results coming from Yelp, you’ll know that’s a directory you definitely need to submit your information to.
The advantages of local search
There are many advantages to local search that other marketing channels can’t provide. Here are the top reasons why you should start your local search campaign today.
Local search allows potential customers in your local area to find your business online and via mobile devices. More people will be able to see your business information, which will lead to increased sales and profits.
Your business can be found on the first page of search results (if you use the best practices and techniques).
Local search allows smaller businesses to compete with national chains and franchises with large marketing budgets. The best part is that it’s common for smaller businesses to appear above the larger chains in the local search results.
Local search is more cost-effective than print advertising, Yellow Page ads or radio and TV advertising. You don’t even need to pay large sums for a Website, local search requires off-Website SEO, which means even without a Website, you can achieve high rankings with your business listing. If you have the time and knowledge, an effective local search campaign can be done for free.
Local business listings validate the credibility of your business. Many local directories allow reviews, which gives your happy customers a chance to tell others what they think of your business. You can also lure new customers in with photos, videos, coupons and more.
In order to succeed in your local SEO efforts, make sure you fully understand how to optimize your listings. Include keywords and make your content persuasive with the goal of moving the sales process forward. Also remember that reporting and analyzing your results will help you figure out what is working and what is not in your local Internet marketing campaign. Keeping up on the changing Google algorithms requires constant education, but with hard work and effort, you will be able to get your business to the first page of the search engines and stay there.