Local internet marketing, also referred to as “local SEO” or “Geo-targeted SEO,” is unique from what you typically know as general SEO because it focuses on optimizing your website, blog, and content for a local audience, typically for the city or geographical area that you’re located in.
To provide the most relevant search results for “local searchers,” search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo give local business owners the ability to register their business. These business listings can be optimized and promoted as “local” listings when local queries are made.
Several recent studies indicate the over 90% of consumers research online, and of those, the majority purchase offline. Furthermore, the average consumer uses over seven different online media sources to research those products and services before buying. These statistics show that not only is local web marketing necessary, it is essential to the success of your business.
A more prominent online presence. As a small business owner, you have a much better chance of competing against the national competition by showing up higher in SERPs with well-placed local rankings on search engines.
Added credibility. Having a local online presence on places like Facebook and Google+ gives you increased authenticity to searchers. Viewers trust local listings more than traditional listings because you can provide a map, a physical address, images, reviews and other valuable information. According to a report by the NDA Group, about 57% of online shoppers browse online but buy offline.
Accessibility for mobile searchers. The Yellow Pages, once the go-to resource for finding local businesses, has been replaced by mobile browsing on smartphones, tablets and other devices. Potential customers on the go generally look for immediate results that they can act on. Having a mobile-friendly site and a prominent local search position means your viewers can easily find and navigate your site, giving you a distinct advantage over your competition.
Easy to implement. Local internet marketing offers an easy way to rank well locally on search engine results pages. By establishing, verifying and developing a business presence on places like Google+, Bing, and Yahoo, you can rank highly on SERPs with much less effort than by relying on traditional search engine optimization (SEO) alone.
While planning and implementing a local SEO strategy takes time and effort (much like anything worth doing), it is relatively easy and well worth the investment of your time. Here are some quick ways to get started with your local online marketing goals.
Develop a business presence on Google +. Begin posting content and start circling people and businesses you are familiar with. These can include friends, family members, and businesses that you are currently associated with. Additionally, Google+ recently introduced a brand new set of tools for businesses that integrates with Google Apps. These new features include the ability to hold video meetings, enable private sharing within an organization or among specific partners, and offer administrative controls.
Register with local directories in your area. For example, if you are located in Cleveland, Ohio, you would consider registering your business on Cleveland.com’s local business listings. This allows you the opportunity to be found by people searching locally for services and enables you to post blogs, press releases, and advertise promotions or specials.
Sign up with Yelp, Citysearch, Yahoo Local, and other review sites. Choose highly searched review sites related to your industry in order to get maximum visibility. For example, if you are a restaurateur, you will want to focus on a site like Yelp. If you are in another service-based industry, such as plumbing or HVAC, you might consider Angie’s List, which caters to home repair businesses.
Mobile optimization goes hand in hand with local internet marketing. Why? People are increasingly turning to their mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to find important information on the go. These searchers are often motivated to find information to quickly act on. For example, a searcher might be driving around Cleveland looking for a place to eat. If you have performed local SEO for your site, your restaurant will appear in their local search, along with a map, directions, contact information, a menu, and even reviews. This gives them all the information they need to make a decision to patronize your establishment.
Along those lines, it is crucial that your site (or at the very least, a landing page) is formatted for mobile viewing so that visitors can easily access your information. Whether you opt for a mobile version of your site or enlist the help of a web design firm to develop your site using responsive design, be sure that your web presence is viewable regardless of the device your potential customers are using. You may also want to consider advertising on various mobile platforms, i.e. Android and Apple, and preparing for the fact that alternative search engines are popping up, such as the one being used for the iPhone 5.
Local internet marketing can provide many valuable opportunities for you as a local business owner to increase brand awareness and boost profits. Used in combination with on-page and off-page search engine optimization and search engine marketing, your search results can put you directly in front of potential customers—just where you want to be.