by Luis Tellado
on December 11th, 2012
Most local businesses consider online advertising and search engine marketing (SEO) to be highly effective. As local marketing becomes more crowded and competitive, making your online ads and other marketing efforts as powerful as possible becomes increasingly important.
More local customers than ever before now start their search for what they need locally online. For them, it’s a quick and effective approach, and they’ve come to expect that local businesses will show up when they search online.
The question is: Will yours? Here are nine things you can do:
- Perk up your Profiles: Local businesses with the most detailed online business profiles – including their products and services – get better results. Trouble is, your business probably has profiles in more places than you know. Make sure your online listings are complete – including not just your location and hours, but as much detail as you can get in about what your business offers, and what sets you apart from others. If you have a business video, include that too, along with your social media connections. A great way to monitor how your business appears online is to use a reputation management service such as Dex Reputation Management (www.dexone.com).
- Narrow your net: A common mistake that local businesses make online is spending money on ads that appear outside their service area. By using local or regional sites or internet yellow pages you will get more bang for your advertising bucks.
- Avoid the “first is best” myth: Many online advertisers have been conditioned to believe that first position in a search ad results page is best. But that’s not necessarily true. Slightly lower positions can actually produce better, most cost effective results. The best approach is to test.
- Sync SEO with paid search: Use SEO techniques to make your business website rich with keywords and phrases that customers might search for online. At the same time, you can also use pay-per-click (PPC) ads to lure customers. Then use the most successful keywords from your paid campaign in your SEO efforts.
- Geo-target your website and ads: Geo-Targeting – short for geographic targeting – means customizing your pitch to a specific city, state, region or even neighborhood. One technique is to simply make sure your complete business address appears on every page of your website. The content on your site and in your ads and directory listings should also mention your city, as well as neighboring cities and areas. Location keywords are especially important to people searching for you on a mobile device.
- Use the right tools: Using the right tools for the job is always important, and it’s no different for finding keywords. Wordtracker.com and the keyword tool available at Google Adwords are two of the best free tools used by business owners.
- Get your social media act in order: Having an active presence in social media is vitally important for today’s local businesses to connect with customers. At a minimum, make sure you have a Facebook business page, and consider other networking sites such as LinkedIn, Biznik and MeetUp.
- Check out “check-in” services: With location-based or “check-in” services and applications, customers create a profile and sync up with friends by “checking in” when they visit a specific local business. Participating not only helps you get found, it’s a great way to reward customer loyalty. Look into Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places.
- Get a free product search listing on Google: Google Product Search helps buyers find and buy products of almost any kind online. As a local business, you can submit product-specific information to Google Product Search and be listed. It’s like a parallel Google search universe dedicated solely to products. There’s no charge for uploading your information, and no charge for any additional traffic you receive to your website. Your ticket to this party is via the Google Merchant Center. Visit www.google.com/merchants.