June 9, 2010
Many small business owners are just becoming aware of a powerful and free way to get their business in front of thousands of local customers using what is known as local search marketing.
You see, over the past several years the big 3 search engines have become aware that more and more people are using local identifiers in their search for products and services. In view of the fact that search engines rely on relevant results in order to survive, they have taken serious action.
Google, Yahoo, and Bing have all added local search results to their results pages and have allowed small business owners to add their listing for free.
How important are local results to the search engines? Well, just the fact that they place the local results at the top of their results indicates that they take it very seriously.
Here are 2 important reasons you need to take local search marketing seriously:
- Most people searching for a business in your local area are ready to act. This means if your listing does not show up on that persons local search you are kissing their business goodbye and driving them to your competition.
- You can reach Mobile searchers. Local listings display on cell phones and mobile search is exploding as more people are using smart phones to find local businesses.
Setting up your Local Search Listings.
Ok, where do you start?
The first place you need to go is Google Local. You will have to set up a free Google account and it may be a good idea to grab a free Gmail account to use as your email address for all your listings.
Your business may already be listed in Google results because they pull information from a lot of local directories like Yellowpages.com. The key here is to claim your business listing and optimize it to fit the right keywords, city, state, zip code, phone number and make sure you are in the right categories.
The description part of your listing is very important. In 25 words you need to describe what you do. It is important to get your most important keywords in there without spamming. Just give the facts and avoid sounding like an advertisement. Avoid phrases like best, most experienced, lowest priced etc…
Google will use your description, phone number and address to determine where you show up when people type in certain search phrases.
Warning! If you do not claim your local business listing you risk what is known as hijacking. This is where someone else claims your listing and changes the phone number, address, and website. Until you claim and verify your business listing it is open game for scammers.
After Google, do the same thing at Yahoo and Bing locals. It is very important to make sure you make your listing information consistent. The address, phone number, and keywords need to be the same. If google sees listings with multiple phone numbers or different addresses it will penalize you.
If you have multiple locations than you need to set up separate listings. Google also looks at the phone number so you should avoid using an 800 number. A PO Box is also a no no.
You must understand that the local search engines are looking for local identifiers to determine where you will show up in their results. It looks at phone numbers, your business description, and your address to help them.
After you have claimed your business in the big 3 local search, it is time to look at your local directories.
It is simple to find the good ones. Go to Google and type in the keywords people are using to find your type of business and check the results on the first page. There is a good chance that several local directories will appear on page one. Go to those directories first and submit your business.
Your goal is to get in as many local directories as possible using consistent information. Many of these directories are visited by Google and you want them to see the same information in every directory.
Many directories allow people to submit reviews about the particular business. Google will use these reviews in your listing, so try to get your best customers to take a few minutes to give you a good review.
Local Search Marketing is a small business owners secret weapon and if you are not currently doing it you are missing a great opportunity to attract new customers. The good news is that most of your competition is probably not aware of local search or are doing it all wrong.
If most of your customers are searching for you online, don’t you think it is a good idea to be there?
Jeffrey Taylor has been an Internet Marketing Specialist since 1995. He is a SEO (search engine optimizer) and an expert in local advertising. He is one of the partners at Local GoldMine, which is a online marketing company for local businesses based in Phoenix Arizona. Find out how our Local Search Marketing Domination package can help you.