Local Search Makes Your Business a Big Fish in Your Local Community
by: Lynella Grant
The Internet Contains Billions of Website Pages - All Clamoring for Attention
With so many competing websites, its unlikely that yours could stand out among them. Until recently, you faced near-impossible odds. Search engine results lost the "little guys" in back pages, where no one ever looked.
But Local Search is changing that in a dramatic way. Small stores and service businesses are gaining additional revenue from being found by locals who went to the Internet before deciding where to buy (70% of buyers, according to research by The Kelsey Group).
Google and Yahoo are pushing hard to make their Local Search results as relevant as possible. (MSN is playing a catch-up game.) Theyre under pressure to work out the bugs, so this rapidly accelerating trend becomes more reliable.
The public wants to find information about products or services with the ease and speed theyve come to expect from search engines. However, when people are ready to spend their money, they prefer to spend it close to home (where 80% of purchases are made). So the only suppliers they care about are those located nearby. A Google query for "plumber" that delivers 2.3 million pages does them no good at all.
Buyers are Driving the Popularity of Local Search
A person conducts a Local Search when they add a geographic term (like town, region, zip code) to their search engine query. The results (SERPS) only include businesses within that geographic area. For example, entering "Seattle + plumber" in Google only delivers a list of plumbing firms in Seattle. Those results are also displayed on a city map, so its easy to spot the most convenient ones.
Unfortunately, not all of the plumbers who ought to be included appear in the results. Those businesses that are left out miss out. Its also a drawback for the searcher, when they cant find the information theyre looking for. Unfortunately, too much of what they get isnt relevant to them. The quality of results are sure to improve as more businesses climb aboard.
Relevance indicates how well the information a person expects to find matches what they actually get from their search. Theres still plenty of room for improvement. Even so, already Local Search queries make up almost 40% of all search queries.
The Stages of Business Local Search Savvy
You dont want your enterprise left out of consideration when customers are making up their minds. Many more buyers rely on online information than on traditional methods, like newspapers and Yellow Pages anymore. Make Local Search an integral part of how you connect with customers, old and new.
1. Get listed in appropriate data bases so your business shows up in search results. Find out whether your operation is already listed in key places.
2. A simple site supports the rest of your marketing efforts (but you dont need your own website to start with). Realize that its not for making online sales, but to assist your being found - by the search engines, as well as customers. Even a small website builds credibility, and encourages additional traffic to your place of business.
Make your website useful, so it provides answers that your customers routinely ask about. Tell about your services, product brands and specifications, hours, payment methods, how to, etc.
4. Optimize your website for keywords and in-depth search terms. While a small business may show up in Local Search results, theres a marked advantage to being in the front of the list. For example, in search results showing 30 rug cleaners, those closest to the top/front are more likely to be chosen.
5. Build your website into your store activities and business policies. Make it an extension of how you conduct special promotions, develop customer loyalty, and announce new products.
Cause a Ripple in Your Community "Pond"
Brick and mortar operations are often delighted to discover that the Internet is sending a steady stream of new customers, with little effort on their part. Capitalize on the convenient ways to connect to customers online.
Its said that there are only three ways to boost business revenue.
1. Increase your number of customers
2. Sell more to customers each time they buy
3. Sell to them more frequently
Your Internet exposure can help you accomplish all three. It can also makes you a bigger fish in the pond where you live and conduct business. And that deserves your serious attention.
Copyright 2005 Off the Page
About The Author
Dr. Lynella Grant An expert in Yellow Page ads and Local Search. Stand out online and offline, so you capture more Internet-savvy buyers for your brick and mortar business. Free resources http://www.localsearchresources.com 719-395-9450