Whether your small business launched 5 decades, 5 years or 5 minutes ago, the Internet can bring new customers in the door or get the phones ringing. How? Marketing online within a local geographic area, commonly referred to as local search marketing.
For starters, the Internet is by far the most convenient and resourceful source for consumers to research and compare products and services today. Potential customers, every day, use their smartphone on the bus, the computer in their cubicle and power up their tablet to search for local services and products within a local area.
The best part about these searches is their purpose. They’re not just looking for free information, they are looking to buy!
- Approximately 30 Billion search queries a month are conducted on the Internet in the US (Search Engine Watch)
- One out of five, or 3.2 Billion, of those searches are local in nature (Search Engine Watch)
- 90% of local online commercial searches result in offline purchases (comScore)
- Two thirds of Americans have substituted the Internet and local search for traditional phone books (comScore)
- The listing ranked at the top of the first page of search results receives 42% of all clicks (Search Engine Watch)
All that translates to this: 90% of people that type in “Dentist near Atlanta” or “Italian Restaurants Columbus” are searching because they are looking to find a new dentist near Atlanta or to check out a lasagna dish at a local Italian joint.
Try it for your business, after you’ve finished this article, of course. If you’re not there, you’re missing out!
And if your business isn’t on that coveted first page of results, you’re not alone. Local search marketing is a widely underutilized tool in most small business marketing toolkits. Only 44% of small businesses have a Website and half of small businesses spend under 10% of their marketing budget online. Even fewer consider local search as part of their strategy for new customers.
Now, there are numerous tactics you can execute to help your businesses be where your potential customers are.
Regardless of your method, step one should be focused on increasing your online visibility.
Thanks to services such as Google+ Local, Bing Local and Yelp, this has become more attainable. Still, doing it right takes time, something most small business owners I know (myself included) don’t exactly have an abundance of.
Local search marketing is one of the most efficient, effective and measurable forms of marketing you can utilize as a small business owner.
Over the last five years, while traditional advertising in other medias, like television and print (including local newspapers) declined, Internet marketing and online paid advertising (Pay Per Click or PPC) continued to climb. Why? Because local search works.
While I believe most small businesses should have a comprehensive strategy that incorporates multiple coordinated mediums, local search is a critical part of a complete and measured marketing plan. It’s important to note that local search marketing differs from social media marketing. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can be powerful for brand awareness and can bring tremendous value for customer retention, but when people are looking for or doing initial research on specific products and services, most social media profiles trail local listings in search engine results.
The way to market your small business has and is continuing to change and evolve. To sell, promote, build community, fundraise, collaborate, learn, discuss – it’s all online. Are you?
What strategies do you use to ensure your small business is found online? Share with us in the comments.
A champion for the underdog, David K. Jackson is an Internet marketing leader with RevLocal, working with small to medium sized companies across the United States to optimize their online presence with local consumers. David has counseled hundreds of businesses over nearly a decade as the owner of blueOcean Solutions and serves on multiple business and civic advisory boards. Connect with David on LinkedIn.
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