August 10, 2010 – Understanding the nuances of how to attract and capture a
local search audience and convert them into paying clients is a big challenge
for many small businesses. Fortunately, you can increase your findability,
dominate web search results, and attract new customers in your own hometown.
The question is, how do you stay competitive in a local
market where competition is fierce and your company offers the same perceived
product or service as everyone else in the area? How do you achieve a real
competitive edge in a localized market? Often, it's about two key things:
getting social and getting local.
If you want to stand out in your local market and
increase your web ranking, following are some key ways to get social, get local
and get a whole lot of business.
Social media marketing is an excellent tool in an
internet marketer's toolkit. It gives you a great opportunity to demonstrate
how your company is different, and it gives a real voice to your online
presence. Many businesses that do some social media marketing do a good job of
helping consumers find their social media platforms off the main website. And,
for the most part, they do keep their accounts updated with relevant,
high-value information. However, in order to really harness the potential of
these platforms, you need to make a few changes with a localized spin that will
go a long way for search engine marketing.
Tip #1: Get everyone – and everything – on the same page
Your blog is the most important social media element your
company can create. As such, it needs to be a part of your main website and it
must support your brand. Just having a blog up somewhere on the web doesn't cut
it. In fact, you can have the most informational, well-organized blog in the
world, but if it isn't an integrated part of your web site, it's useless.
Unfortunately, most businesses have a blog that acts like
its own website and that is totally separate from the company's main web site.
As such, the blog often gets more traffic and better web rankings than the main
site. The blog gets all the credit for the business owner's well thought-out,
regular posts, and the website gets none. Ideally, you want your website to get
everything. The goal is not for consumers to read your blog; it's for them to
read your blog, and then visit your web site and take action.
Therefore, port your blog directly into your main web
site. Ideally, users will see the same header and footer as the main website,
making it very easy for them to jump from a blog post to a relevant section on
Tip #2: A little keyword research goes a long way
If you are going to take the time and effort to keep your
social media platforms up-to-date and informational, then you probably want
your potential customers to read them. The true power of social media marketing
is the ability to gain search engine ranking by optimizing your platforms,
thereby getting found in the search engines and getting traffic to your
Chances are you've already done the hard work. You're
giving great information, uploading videos and images, and giving customers a
real value-add. Now you simply need to pick one strategic keyword per post and
do a little post optimization, and you'll have search engine ranking. For each
blog, use a keyword tool (such as Google's free one – https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal,
find a keyword with good search volume, and simply add it into your post title
and throughout the content.
Now, here is the trick for using a keyword tool to
localize posts. You probably won't see the tools diving in deep enough to get
search volume for Fairfield, Virginia, or for any town for that matter. However,
what works for Americans, works for "Fairfieldians." This means if
there is great search volume under "Cosmetic Dentistry," for example,
then there is probably good search volume under "Cosmetic Dentistry,
Fairfield VA." So think global, but act local with your keywords.
When it comes to marketing on the Internet, the sky is
truly the limit for really narrowing in and getting in front of your target
audience. Local searching is no exception. Here are a few tricks of the trade
that can help you dominate local search results.
Tip #1: Use Geo-Targeting carefully
Many local businesses that do pay per click advertising
use geo-targeted criteria, which means your PPC ad will only show if the
searcher has a local IP address in the geographic area you've defined. The
biggest gap in running only a geo-targeted by IP address campaign is that
people who are not physically located in your area when searching won't see
your ads. So if someone lives around the corner from you, but this week they
happen to be across the country visiting their Aunt Betty and using her
computer to find some local businesses to call next week when they're back in
town, your PPC ads won't show.
For this reason, geo-targeted pay per click accounts need
to have two campaigns. The first campaign is the localized campaign that only
shows ads to consumers in your area, and Campaign two is a province-wide or
national campaign with keywords that have local modifiers. Using our cosmetic
dentistry example from earlier, in Campaign one, you could show ads for
keywords such as "cosmetic dentistry," knowing that only consumers in
the surrounding areas would see them. For Campaign two, you could show ads for
keywords such as "cosmetic dentistry Fairfield VA," knowing that
regardless of where that person is currently located, they have a need for a
dentist in Fairfield.
Tip #2: Use Local Business Centre ads
Local Business Centre ads are a fantastic way to gain
additional, localized ranking in the search engines. Setting up a Local
Business Centre ad account in Google is free – all you need is a local address
and you are good to go.
Local Business Centre gives you the opportunity to
connect your local listings with your Google Adwords account, meaning that when
someone searches for your keyword in your local area, your listing will appear
with an address and phone number under the standard ad text. Even better, Local
Business Center ads can be optimized. For example, if one of your local
listings is titled "Fairfield Dentist," you could label it
"Fairfield Dentist, Cosmetic Dentistry" and gain ranking for someone
searching for cosmetic dentistry in Fairfield. By using a keyword tool and
including your keyword in the local listing, small business can take full
advantage of a local internet marketing approach.
Tip #3: Get the right local domain for the right audience
As much as we are targeting local keywords and local
listings, there is a fine line between local and too local. For example, some
businesses put their phone number or address (or part of it) in their domain
name. Whereas an address and/or phone number is certainly local, it is just a
bit too local. Searchers definitely identify with localized keywords; however,
typically they don't search down to the street-number or phone number level
until they are looking for directions or a specific provider. Therefore, get a
web site address that is local-keyword rich. A small change in your web address
can make a very big change in your search engine findability.
Dominate your Local Market for Results!
Yes, you can dominate your local market. By utilizing the
strategies covered, you can up your game on the local competitors. Ideally, you
want to be the ONLY provider in town as far as the search engines are
With so many people going online to get their local needs
met, this is one area of your web marketing campaign you can't afford to
Heather Lutze has spent the last 10 years as CEO of The
Findability Group, formerly Lutze Consulting, – a Search Engine Marketing firm
that works with companies to attain maximum Internet exposure. A nationally
recognized speaker, she is the author of, "The FindAbility Formula: The
Easy, Non-Technical Approach To Search Engine Marketing" (Wiley and Sons). Heather is a lead speaker for Pay Per Click Summit, and
previously spent two years speaking for Yahoo! Search Marketing. For more
information, visit www.FindabilityGroup.com.
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