Did you realize that 90% of online commercial searches go to an offline bricks‐and‐mortar store to make the purchase? Your marketing strategy should include both on-line and off-line pieces and this checklist is meant to help you “localize” your on-line presence in order to increase your off-line opportunity.
- Make your web pages local friendly: The obvious place to start your localization is your web site and specifically how your web site lets the search engines know you are a local business. You do this by adding local or geographic‐based content, for example names of your city, local towns and suburbs, local landmarks and other locally recognizable features. It’s the stuff that people search for locally when they’re looking for things. You can also enhance your site with maps and geographic content. Include local features in your links and external anchors, and even create local landing pages.
- Build out your local search profiles: There are a number of local profile sites such as Yahoo, Bing, and Google, who allow you to claim and describe your business. These sites are important for a business that wants to put a face to their name as they allow images and videos along with keywords, categories and services.
- Encourage on-line reviews: Review sites like Yelp, LivingSocial, CitySearch and MerchantCircle, along with the major search engines, allow for customer comments and reviews that can separate your business from others. Establish your presence on these sites and work with your customers to encourage reviews, feedback, and comments as a part of your referral program One way to educate customers and partners the positive impact of reviews is to host a review event for their customers as a means to stimulate positive reviews. This also gives you the opportunity to network with their community and customers. Obviously once your business is on the site you’ll need to incorporate an active monitoring routine into your marketing calendar.
- Get listed, cited and mentioned – Listings are another source that can make it easy for you to ‘get found’. Entries into local directories, internet yellow pages, and other sites that aggregate local businesses add to your local awareness. An easy place to start and validate your localization efforts is GetListed.org which will show your “claim” on the major sites. In addition there are businesses that compile business data as a paid service to others. You may have used a site like infoUSA for direct mailing lists. Chances are your business is in one of their databases too. You can edit, change and enhance the information as a means to add to your local credibility. For a fee, companies like Universal Business Listings (www.ubl.org) will manage the insertion of your data into numerous directories, including mobile services – think On-Star, and help you manage the information listed. In addition, UBL will establish links on those directories to your site, creating backlinks that are important for SEO.
- Utilize local social media: Social media has become a vital component in marketing strategies. Your direct involvement in using on-line to get off-line (o2o) will get you noticed locally. Major sites like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and LinkedIn allow you to interact at the local level and create awareness for your business. Taking your community off-line for local groups, networking events, Tweetups, and Meetups, allow you to cultivate deeper connections with the members of these communities.
Getting found locally, while sounding easy, can be a daunting task. This checklist will give you at least some awareness to a few steps and tools that can help you. Please feel free to share your story and experience with us – we love to hear how businesses use these ideas.
If you are interested in learning more about how to integrate local search into your marketing strategy, contact us.