How well is your local search marketing going? It’s something every business should pay attention to.
Following the well-worn marketing adage: “Think Global, Act Local”, who can forget HSBC’s famous ad based on the confusion of Chinese dining etiquette? A European businessman mistakenly finishes his dinner of conger eel – thus signifying hunger. The poor man then compounds his error by miserably clearing pate after plate of ever bigger eel as his hosts strive to ‘satisfy’ their guest.
The ad presents the premise of growing a global business through understanding local markets and customs. Ironically, “The World’s Local Bank” grew their global empire instead by buying up established customer bases. Remember the Midland Bank anyone?
While most of us can’t buy up the competition, we can still appreciate the need for understanding and exploiting local markets. But how can we best resource this, yet still have time to service customers?
How am I doing with local search marketing?
It’s always a good idea to start from a position of knowledge – so just how well do you come out in local search results? Moz Local is a really useful tool to establish what your current visibility is before you start. It will tell you what you’re doing well, and what you could do to improve your local, online presence.
Once you’ve established what you’re doing well (and not so well), you can use the Moz tool as a platform to dive in and improve other areas of your local search activity. We’ve also put together our own guide.
Here are 4 Steps to help you kickstart your local search marketing (but without needing a mega marketing budget):
Step 1: Register with Google My Business. Why?
- Google My Business is the local directory of the world’s most popular search engine with 3 trillion searches per annum and 30% of these Google searches are for local information!
- Increases your visibility: across all Google platforms, including Google Maps and Google+. This ensures that you are placed accurately on Google Maps, enabling customers to easily find you, your contact details and business hours.
- Allows increased information flow: the service enables you to post photos of your shop, select products and easily publicise weekly/ monthly discount offers.
- Allows two-way communication: People can read independent reviews posted by previous customers and see your response to client feedback – allowing you to manage and respond to customer reviews.
- Provides valuable intelligence. Using Google Analytics, you will be able to see how your customers are finding you, and what they are searching for.
Step 2: Register with other key business search listing sites. Here are just a few that are worth your time and attention:
- Bing Places for Business Bing is the default business search engine used by Microsoft Edge and allows businesses to list in up to 10 categories so customers can find them more readily. It also features map locations, photos and customer reviews from Yelp (see below).
- Yahoo Local Yahoo is another well know name. The service allows businesses to register for free, but charges for premium services and cross-listing across Yahoo’s network. The directory offers easy-to-use tools for tracking customer searches and evaluating overall search performance.
- Yelp One of the newer names, but an important one due to the review service’s inclusion on Bing. This site focuses searches on customer reviews. Search for anything from a new restaurant to a local electrician. Not only can you collect and respond to customer feedback, but you can also post special offers and use the Yelp reporting tool to stay on top of trends.
- Foursquare Fifty million people currently use Foursquare, a service based on customer reviews and feedback. An innovative feature with the service allows users check in when they visit businesses and even comment on their experiences live via their Twitter accounts. Additionally, businesses can use the mobile app to engage with customers throughout the process.
Step 3: Help people find your website by updating your ‘SEO’ and ‘Meta Description’.
- ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ (SEO) refers to the insertion of keywords within your site that identify your business and what separates you from the competition. These keywords will enable search engines and therefore people, to find you.
- Meta Description – A brief description of the page. ‘Meta tags’ are snippets of text that describe a page’s content; the tags don’t appear on the page itself, but only in the page’s code. There are a few main types, but Meta Description is the key one that Google pays attention to.
- Updating SEO and your metadata will increase your traffic by letting Google know who you are and what you provide.
Finally! Now you are listed on all the key directories and enabled customers to find you, there is one crucial and often forgotten step to remember.
Step 4: Give your website the attention it needs.
- Update! Ensure that your contact information, business hours, photos and offers are up to date!
- Support an online storefront: even local people love to shop online! Many point-of-sale systems now support the integration of e-commerce capabilities.
- Ensure a robust response mechanism is in place for web ‘hits’ and staff are trained to respond accordingly.
- Communicate with paying customers – thank those who provide positive feedback, respond professionally to those criticise (whether justified or not!).This information can then be posted very easily onto your chosen business listing sites.
- Make your site mobile-friendly: Given that 60% of searches on Google are made from a mobile device, your site must have a mobile-friendly option!
Implementing these 4 steps will ensure that local customers can both find and contact you with ease. Online listings will spread the news about you and also enable you to ensure that online listings, and reviews and feedback present you as the trustworthy place to shop locally!
If this all sounds great, but you’d like some help putting it into practice, get in touch with us! Here at WebAdept we’ve been helping local businesses with digital marketing – from dipping their toes in to social media, to developing a full blown online marketing strategy – for 20 yrs. We’d love to do the same for you too!