Guest post from this week’s featured author Wendy Stevens, who wrote “Local Guerrilla Marketing” with Jay Conrad Levinson. A powerful, dynamic speaker, and popular trainer, as well as a championship coach and mentor, follow Wendy @WendyStevens.
In the local online search game you cannot afford to be left behind, trailing your competition. To get out in front of your potential and ideal customers and/or clients in the local search engine game begins foundationally, first and foremost with a “local search engine” profile of your business.
Everyday people are searching online right there in their own hometown for – maybe, your exact business product or service. Every major search engine is actually rushing to become the next local phonebook. With one billion local searches a month on Google alone there are a lot of fingers doing the walking and clicking online to find your business.
So now, is the time for you to get your business listed in online maps and directories and take advantage of the massive growing numbers of people using local search, to find business services and products of all kinds right there in the town your business is located in. Statistics shows that about 69 percent of households use online search for products and services on a daily basis.
Out of the one billion searches – local searches a month online – half of those are done on a mobile device. The reason mobile matters so much is the ideal customer and/or client that is out there utilizing a local search is often times doing so, on their mobile device where maps and directories play such a vital and critical role in the selection process for the end consumer. So the question really is how do local searches search in the first place?
For instance, someone in Nashville seeking a chiropractor will type in “Nashville Chiropractor” or someone in Chicago will type in “Chicago Accountant.”
That’s the reality of search at the local level. We search by the city or town in which we are located. This behavior has driven search to be hyper-local. So local geo-targeting means that search engines are utilizing local IP addresses and location to identify and serve up results based on the end users location. There is a mad dash to be the next big player in the local directory game; search results are global, national, all around town, and just around the corner.
Test it out, go ahead and do an online search for “Contractor 37069.” You may not have noticed it before but the first results displayed are local directory results complete with a map feature such as Google Places of Franklin, TN. By clicking on one of the local listings, you’ll get all the information that’s available online. It is almost like a mini webpage for that business. This means that when your potential ideal customer and/or client searches for your local business they can easily find your business’ phone number, address and vital signs.
How do you create a local search profile for your business?
The search profile provides a valuable quality inbound link next to your site and is ranked individually in search engines which increases your overall brand presence. Local search profiles are incredibly important as I mentioned because of the many searches done on a mobile device. So when your potential customers are out and about using their Blackberry’s, Blueberries or their iPhones, most of them are looking for quick information like a phone number or an address as they are already out there mobiling around. They’re looking for that last piece of information to execute that stop or that shop. This means they don’t have the time to dig through your website to get your business information and if it doesn’t come up fast… this potential customer and/or client will probably go with one of your competitors who’s information was readily available.
If you’re not listed locally you're missing out on potential customers that may be trying to access your business via a mobile device and ready to buy. So, not having this local search presence means you’ll be missing out on providing your business’ services to these potential customers and/or clients.
Below you’ll find some of my best tips for creating and developing local search profiles for your business:
First and foremost, claim your listing by going to Google Places – it’s free! This is a free service provided by Google which allows you to list your business on the web. Your business might already be listed but you can make your listing more dynamic by adding photos, videos, links and more. You’ll also be able to see reviews that are being posted and keep your business’ information up to date including hours of operation, payment options and other details. You never know what piece of information your potential customer and/or client might be looking for.
Google will ask to verify the ownership of your business by either calling you at the number provided for your business or they will send a postcard with a verification pin to the business address you listed.
Please don’t rush your submissions. If your business has multiple locations, don’t submit them all at once because you could appear to be spamming search engines. When listing multiple locations spread it out over a couple of weeks or months so search engines won’t classify you as a spammer.
The bare minimum information requires your business’ full address, and zip code as many of us search by zip codes as well. Be sure to include a direct phone number including links to your main website. This is all about niche marketing. Does your hometown have a business association? Use local specific search engines like WickedLocal.com or yp.com, merchantcircle.com or, yp.com. These are some of the popular local search engines and have unique audiences. The more places you can post your business with its local profile the greater audience you can position your business in front of directly right before they buy.
Note from editor:
The first 25 to post a comment below will get a copy of Wendy’s book courtesy of the Verizon small business team. To get real-time insights from Wendy Stevens join our LIVE Twitter chat tomorrow (August 18) at 7 p.m. ET. For more information on joining the chat click here.
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