Optimize your online presence for local SEO
Until a few years ago when the Internet wasn’t an omnipresent, all powerful phenomenon, the Yellow Pages used to be the golden goose of lead generation. Particularly for small and medium sized businesses, these local business directories worked wonders. While the medium of search has changed from offline listings to online business listings on search engines, the fact remains that people like to do business with local companies. Of course, every business owner wants to expand beyond the horizons of their physical geographic market, but dominating the local space is the stepping stone to big business outside.
With sustained online marketing, you may have gained an edge over competition in another city, country or continent. That’s great. The thing to remember is that your biggest (and often seemingly “silent”) competitor may be in your backyard! When your customers are searching for your products and services online, search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing are serving up local results to make things easy for online users. Does your business figure in the top ranks of these search listings? It’s not difficult or expensive to get there; you just need to know how and must make efforts to stay there once you rise to the top.
Why the need for local brand building and visibility?
It’s easy to be tempted by the sales volume and revenue that comes from out of city / country customers. But ignoring the potential of the local marketplace is not an option. The importance of local customers and regional sales is evident in the way global brands too are customizing their marketing and product offering. Although implemented in an offline situation, a relevant example is that of the Kit Kat chocolate bar from Nestlé. At the start of 2010, the company launched 19 different Kit Kat flavours in Japan to suit diverse tastes across districts in that market. Clearly, this is an example of trying to penetrate every little local pocket of the chocolate consumer market in Japan – dominate and rule!
In an online example of local marketing, the city of Manchester in Northwest England introduced a signature holiday gift wrap in late 2009. The multi-hued limited edition paper matched the city’s logo. It was heavily marketed and sold on their tourism website’s online shop. Without a doubt, the profits from online holiday season sales spiked by local customer activity.
How to use local search engine optimization for your business?
- Use business mapping applications to get your business listed on search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and so on.
- If your website and contact information has already been included in local business databases online, verify that all the details are accurate and up to date. Never thought a postal code would be useful in Internet marketing? People are Googling these days for local businesses with postal / zip codes in the search window!
- Make sure that your business listings drive search traffic directly to relevant pages on your website instead of leading visitors to yet another information site or portal.
- Leverage content marketing – professionally written copy, photographs and videos about your company, products, services, people, etc. can have a huge impact on helping you dominate your online business listings.
- Even in the absence of a website, your business (with a valid phone number) can get listed in local search listings. So while your website is in the works, get the ball rolling and start driving local customers to your door.
The more local business leads you gain with your SEO efforts, the greater your chances are to expand and nurture a strong database of local customers. Use social media and online reviews to leverage all the wonderful word-of-mouth publicity from these happy customers. There can be no greater referrals than glowing testimonials from local clients who are proud of their local business / service provider, i.e. YOU!