Local Search Engine Optimization:

High Local Search Engine Placement
Can Boost Small Business Sales

The Need For Local Search Engine Optimization

A company's online holiday marketing results can often make or break its annual returns. Last year, with few exceptions, businesses took a beating across the board. An important lesson learned from the 2008 season is that search engines-- especially local search-- play a wider role than ever before.

Online Search Leads To In-store Sales

Last year eighty-two percent of shoppers researched online before making a (non-grocery) in-store purchase. The number of shoppers using local search to find products, or services grew to 15.7 billion during the same period. This year, due in part to the rise of mobile search, the numbers are increasing daily.

In fact, Comscore reports that in August 2009, Americans conducted more than 13.9 billion searches on the five major search engines. (Searches for maps and local directories, not on the core domain of the five search engines aren't even included in this data.)

Local search, both online and mobile, showed the highest usage increase compared to other forms of search overall. And it's clear that consumers who use local search options don't just search-- they spend.

Almost half (47%) of all local searchers either contacted or visited a local merchant as a result of an online search. This isn't surprising since most consumers spend the majority of their income within a 50 mile radius of their homes. In view of these numbers, local search exposure has to be a primary business concern.

While not an alternative to more comprehensive SEO-- local search registration is a good first step. You can start by establishing a business presence in the following key shopping arenas:

  • Major Search Engines (Google, Bing, AOL and Ask)
  • Local Internet Yellow Pages (Dex, Yellow Pages, SuperPages)
  • Specialized Online Directories and Web Portals

Get Optimized Local Listing At Major Search Engines

Local search provides smaller companies an opportunity for first page search engine exposure. Those with a local or regional focus must, at a minimum, make sure to submit an optimized business profile to all the major search engines whether they have a company website or not. For example:

Google's Local Business Center lets businesses construct their business profile listings and offers both mail or phone options for data verification. Google's user control panel/dashboard allows for easy control of listing data and offers options for image and video uploads. Coupon creation and traffic monitoring features are also available.

Microsoft's new Bing Listing Center operates much like Google's. The information requirements and confirmation procedures are almost identical. Bing also offers a supplemental websites area to add extra web links in your business listing. The additional links let you provide the more detailed information shoppers need to make informed buying decisions.

A Word To The Wise:

Don't forget that your competitors are trying to reach the same shoppers with the same, or similar, products and services. Make sure your company data is optimized for key search phrases that consumers actually use when they shop.

Poor optimization can hide your company's offerings from potential buyers, and bury your business listings below those of your competition. Search engines are very slow about correcting errors or making changes, so be sure to 'get it right' the first time.

Explore Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs)
And Industry Vertical Directories

Forty-five per cent of Internet Yellow Pages and local online directory searchers made an offline purchase in the fourth quarter of 2008. These IYP directories are quickly replacing paper phone books.

That's why you also need to submit optimized company profiles to internet Yellow Pages directories (Dex, Yellow Pages, SuperPages, etc.) in addition to your search engine profiles.

Most local directories offer both free and paid options. The latter provide premium features like logo images, video uploads or coupons. You'll have to evaluate the costs and potential benefits of paid listings in relation to your budget and overall marketing needs.

There are dozens of other specialized directories and web portals that are ideal for local business search. You'll have to 'cherry-pick' the best ones for your business since some may be more relevant to a particular industry than others. Doing so will give you 'blanket coverage' in the places where consumers search for the products and services your company provides.

Local Search, The Bottom Line:
If You Can't Be Found-- You're Lost

Search is so often used as the precursor to both online and offline buying that it's become an assumed, and unconscious process. The "second nature" performance of search offers a distinct advantage to businesses that can supply the goods and services they seek. The challenge is getting found.

Companies that get a "leg up" in local search engine exposure will have a competitive advantage this year-- with basic SEO benefits that extend well into the next.

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Are You Local Yet?

  • Last year, 82% of consumers researched online before making in-store purchases.
  • In fact, 47% of local searchers either contacted or visited a local merchant as a result of an online search; so it's clear that their buying decision has already been made.

    A growing number of shoppers are searching with their cell phones, yet few companies have mobile friendly sites.

    Businesses need to be listed whether they have a website or not.

    Our local search services help you get more local customers and establish a mobile presence for less than $1 a day.

    Click here to find out how

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