Think global to find your locals
By Heather Lutze
By Heather Lutze
Think global to find your locals
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.
Aug. 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 your website.
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 platforms.
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 concerned.
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 overlook.
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 .