The web is only for global businesses and eCommerce, right? Not even close. In fact, the “local web” is becoming ever more important as technology continues to evolve. Are you relying on the phone book to send customers to your business?
More people now rely on a Google search to find businesses in their area than the yellow pages. The geolocation technology in the modern cell phone is being harnessed to give the web an almost physical location. Augmented reality has already made its way onto the PlayStation Vita, and it’s sure to become increasingly popular in the near future.
The local internet is not the future, it’s here. This is how to capitalize on it.
Keep in mind that Google owns the Android platform. Getting in good with the search engine giant is a surefire way to improve your business growth right now and in the years to come.
Google Places – This Google Maps tie-in is a must for any current marketing strategy, and don’t forget it’s Bing equivalent, Yahoo Local. Create accounts in both of these services, and flesh out your profile with as much information as possible.
Fill out every field, use images, and incorporate YouTube videos if you can. Encourage reviews from your customers, especially the ones who are most obviously satisfied, and respond as much as possible to turn your places account into a marketing gold mine. Use your relevant keywords throughout, but don’t stuff them in.
Citations – Contrary to popular belief, the first result in a Google Maps search isn’t necessarily the closest business. The number of citations throughout the web impacts how the search engine perceives your business. The more citations, the better. The more reputable the sources, the better.
What is a citation? It’s a copy of your business name, address, and phone number. Every time Google crawls this information, it gives your business more authority.
Of course, Google is also notoriously good at spotting dishonest techniques, and getting better. Dropping your business information in a spam blog comment or something similar won’t do any good, and could end up getting you punished.
Get your business listed in as many directories as possible, and include a citation wherever it makes legitimate sense to do so.
Local Phone Number – Whether or not you have a toll-free number, be sure to include a local phone number in your citations. This makes it clearer to the search engine where your business is located and who should be interested in what you’re selling.
A Local Website – Go beyond a Places account and set up a website. The costs are incredibly low if you use WordPress to develop it, and most hosting accounts cost less than $10 a month.
Include your citation in the sidebar so that it can be found on every page of your site. This makes it very clear to the search engine that your website is linked with a physical address and a Places account. As a result, Google will display your listings more prominently in the search results for people who live in your area.
Local Internet Marketing
Your online strategy should go beyond SEO and incorporate a targeted social campaign as well. Facebook and many of the other social networks allow you to create advertisements that only display for people who live within a certain area. Create complete profiles on these social networks and take advantage of these ads.
Get involved on Yelp and Foursquare. You can encourage participation by awarding points to people who check into Foursquare when they use your business. Offer a special deal or giveaway to people who promote you on Foursquare, or consider a running a contest.
As always, no strategy exists in isolation. Realize that every strategy you use has the potential to help or hurt your other strategies. Link all of your web properties together, encourage participation, and make the most of the technology at your fingertips.