Being Thrown into the Playing Field
Some of you may have already heard about SEO or Search Engine Optimization and how it is used to rank websites in organic searches amongst other online marketing purposes. It is undeniably one of the best methods to use for establishing online visibility, but there is just one tiny hitch.
Since SEO deals with organic search results, it can reach a wide range of audiences, thus having the tendency to be too broad. Of course, this is not a big deal to big shot international establishments or online shops that cater to a variety of customer demographics.
However, it is a different story for smaller businesses or establishments, who often end up struggling against the big boys when it comes to marketing (both offline and online). Then again, why jump directly into the competition with the big guns when you can start building your online business presence locally, where your customers actually are?
Search Engine Optimization: Localized!
Local search optimization is a form of SEO that narrows down searches to certain cities or areas and makes use of local business listings and the ever-present Google local listings. You can say that it is a more targeted form of SEO, specifically towards a certain location a user may be searching for.
For instance, when you search for “hotels” plain and simple, the search engine would return results of hotels from all over the world! However, when you search for “hotels in Los Angeles”, the search engine would return results of the most popular and reviewed hotels in Los Angeles!
Local SEO is considerably more convenient for users looking for a service or product to buy within a certain area. It is also just as convenient for local businesses when it comes to finding more customers, which will eventually boost sales!
Why Should Businesses Do This?
You probably have other marketing efforts on hand, so why should you jump on the local SEO horse and start using the internet to advertise locally? Is it not just more work and effort? It might be, but here are a few good reasons why you may need local SEO:
- Local listings used in local SEO appear on mobile searches, again boosting exposure rates as more and more people get accustomed to searching on their Smartphones.
- It narrows down the competition, meaning you will not necessarily have to be directly pitted against the bigger businesses now. This is because you are now targeting a more specific demographic, thanks to location-oriented keywords (ex. hotels in Los Angeles).
- It is more cost efficient than print advertisements, and offers a higher ROI for your business.
- It allows your customers to get more involved with your business, as most, if not all, local business directories allow customers to give your business a review. When your customers continuously give positive reviews, it builds a good reputation for your business and attracts even more customers!
- You are bringing your business even closer to your customers, as you are making yourself easier to look up, thanks to local searches!
Check Out These Stats
Still having second thoughts about using the power of local SEO to your business advantage? Here are some statistics that may finally help you decide:
- 97% of consumers use the internet to search for products and services (BIA/Kelsey)
- 95% of mobile users look up for local information on their phones and the primary functions or intentions are for calling or visiting a business (https://econsultancy.com/blog/64925-what-is-local-seo-and-why-do-you-need-it/)
- 88% of consumers read online reviews first before purchasing products or services (BrightLocal, Local Consumer Review Survey 2014)
- 88% of consumers trust these online reviews as much as personal recommendations (BrightLocal, Local Consumer Review Survey 2014)
- 77% of smartphone users contact businesses right after searching for local information (The Mobile Movement Study, Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT, Apr 2011)
- 59% of mobile users who search for local information visit the said business on the same day (The Mobile Movement Study, Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT, Apr 2011)
- 40% of mobile queries have local intent (https://econsultancy.com/blog/64925-what-is-local-seo-and-why-do-you-need-it/)
- 18% of local searches lead to sales (http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/study/2343577/google-local-searches-lead-50-of-mobile-users-to-visit-stores-study)
How Do I Start Advertising Locally?
There are several ways for you to make the most out of advertising locally online, but first, let us define a couple of terms that were mentioned earlier:
Local business listings – this is your online business profile, which contains all your important business details such as your business name, address, phone number, etc. This information is submitted and posted on a variety of free local business listing websites for local SEO promotion.
Google business listings – similar to a local business listing, only this information is placed on a Google+ or Google My Business page made for your business. These are the primary listings you would see when you search locally for a service or product. Your Google business listing acts like a foundation to your other local business listings, for information on the latter has to be consistent with your Google profile all throughout.
Now that we have those two terms defined, here are the first few steps you have to take in getting started with advertising online:
Step 1: First and foremost, you have to create your Google My Business account. Type in www.google.com/business and hit Enter, sign up for an account, and fill in your business details. Setting up your Google My Business profile is quite easy, thanks to Google’s step-by-step setup. Try to get your profile to 100% before proceeding to the next step.
Step 2: Google is not the only place where you can set up a local business listing, you can do so with Yahoo! too. Head over to local.yahoo.com and click the Register button. Yahoo will take you to another step-by-step process of setting up your business profile, so your business also shows up in Yahoo searches.
Step 3: Search for and set up your business profile on other popular business listing websites. The screenshot below shows an example of one of these websites called Yelp.
Apart from Yelp, here are a few other top business listing sites according to http://www.verticalresponse.com/ where you can start setting up your business profiles or listings:
Step 4: Get listed in Yellow Pages, and no, I do not mean the old school phone book yellow pages. www.yellowpages.com is another highly popular business listing site where you must register your business. Just visit their website and click Advertise With Us to get started.
Step 5: Create a social media account if you do not have one yet. Having a social media account linked to your business is great not just for helping customers find you, but for interacting and keeping an open communication with them. Facebook is one of the biggest social media sites where you simply have to have a business page. You can start setting it up directly by clicking this Create a Page link on the Facebook homepage:
Or you can login to your personal Facebook Account and click Create Page.
Step 6: Head over to craigslist.org and post a free online classified ad there. Craigslist will automatically detect your location upon hitting Enter after typing craigslist.org and direct you to your local Craigslist site. If you ever want to change your location though, the options are towards the side.
Step 7: Create your own website if you do not have one yet. While local SEO can work for businesses without websites, having one helps in further boosting how “searchable” your business is online.
Step 8: Search for and sign up in your area’s local Chamber of Commerce. These organizations/websites are built to help local businesses connect and interact with each other to build a larger business network. If you are having problems signing up in your local Chamber of Commerce website, contact them to get assistance.
Help with Local SEO or Advertising Locally Online?
We have a team of local SEO experts who will be more than glad to set up your business profiles on a variety of local business listing websites for you! They can help save you the time and effort of advertising online, and provide you with regular reports so you can keep track of the progress!
Do you have your own advice and reasons why businesses should start making use of the internet to advertise locally? Let us hear it! We would love to hear your insights and feedback!