Local business owners have a unique opportunity in the online marketing world to not only create highly-targeted campaigns by niche, but to also implement and take advantage of targeting on a geographic level with local marketing strategies. To get the most out of your online marketing as a local business owner, use these local marketing strategies for constructing geo-targeted web marketing plans. Obviously, the use of search marketing is incredibly efficient as an online marketing tool and offers the highest amount of ROI next to social media, but both require a lot of time and effort. On the bright side, especially if you are local small business marketing on the web, the results of applying these local marketing strategies pays off. From local directories to Google Places, opportunity for local business online marketing is on the rise. Not to mention an increasing amount of people using smartphones, more and more people are turning to use their mobile gadgets to quickly perform local search queries and for interacting with local businesses.
1. Claim your Google Places listing. It has been in the past 2 years that hundreds of thousands of new local businesses have been claiming a listing on Google Places. According to information released by Google, Google Places seen a 2 million jump in sign-ups in 2010. Recent studies also show that in 2011 another 8 million were added to an estimated sum of 50 million businesses on Google Places–8 million of which were claimed. Needless to say, if you’re not already listed on Places, you are falling behind. Beyond having one, you should completely manage it, claim it, including every bit of relevant information you can. If you are an older, established business, you probably already have listings in local directories; however, if you are a new business, it’s a good idea to have been listed elsewhere online before you claim your listing. This helps Google rank your authority and relevancy more quickly, and one of the best local marketing strategies is to have your Google Places listing rank highly where they can, not just your website.
2. Optimize your Google Places listing. Before you claim your listing, optimize your Google Places listing by including relevant keywords in your description, using relevant categories, getting reviews, and filling out as much information you can, including adding a coupon for Places visitors, and definitely adding photos and videos.
3. Participate in local and niche communities. There are many online directories and social media sites that are dedicated to specific niches, and also tons of article directories where you can submit new articles, press releases, and white papers, and be listed in categories by location or niche. Submitting online PR and participating in social media and blogging, are all good ways to enhance your link profile. By participating in location and niche-specific directories with content written for local relevant terms your local marketing strategies will be beneficial. Many sites like these have a lot of authority, so aside from having your website rank highly, having these pages appearing throughout search engines is an excellent key to successful local marketing strategies.
4. Facebook is great for local business. A great place to focus on in the social world is Facebook. As a local business, the value you give your customers is boundless. Everybody is on Facebook looking to interact with their local businesses, and by providing a source for them to express their loyalty and inquiries to your company easily in a very personal way, you have definitely got their attention. This is an opportunity to take your branding to a serious level that is only touchable through social media.
5. Encourage reviews. Whether on your Google Places listing or on online local directories, having reviews on these sites will increase your credibility which is key in local marketing strategies. Having reviews on Google Places has a major effect on how well you rank in search, but besides that people sometimes skip search engine queries and directly search on review sites. Reviews are more and more powerful, and statistically, people most often refer to friends, family, and reviews for purchasing decisions. Many people do talk about a downside to having reviews, which is the possibility of reputation-damaging reviews. Instead, negative reviews are a great chance to show your brand to an even more positive light, by respectfully responding to bad reviews and showing how you may have improved your business since the review. Bad or good reviews, you should show you care about customer feedback.
6. Geo-target your keywords. Conduct market research for your SEO plans by considering locally-targeted keywords. Keyword research is the foundation of any SEM campaign. Many search queries are made with location included, making your efforts extremely targeted and effective at turning real visitors into real leads.
7. Use a consistent physical address a phone number. In every directory you are listed in, you should include your complete physical address, plus your full phone number. Keeping things consistent across all webpages where you list your contact information will help your SEO, allow customers to contact you, and it also has effect on your Google Places listing. These are all necessary components to complete and successful local marketing strategies.
8. Think like a customer/visitor. Really, put yourself in visitors’ shoes, customer or prospect. Chances are you’ve probably made searches yourself looking for products or services in your area. If you’re looking for a local business in a certain area, chances are you will be making a search query that includes the city, state, or area in the searched terms. Whatever it is a prospect finds when making searches, they are looking for authority (why first page ranking is important), and they are looking for the most appealing. The most appealing and persuasive content is content that speaks to their benefits, whether thirst for information, customer reviews, or ease of access.
9. Manage. If you’re going to utilize social media marketing, whether blogging and promotional press releasing, and/or interacting on social media sites and networks, you should monitor your presence and consistently update. Two tips for starting out are to either start slow or start at a good pace on only a few select websites. Whichever you choose, get the hang of it first and stay consistent. Without monitoring your profiles and sites, you may miss out on customer feedback. Besides, too infrequent updating may lead visitors to look negatively on your branding.