Local Search Marketing is one of those topics that I don’t often write about but felt compelled to do so since I’ve been running into so many small businesses that are searching for ways to capture leads, create awareness and connect within their local communities.
In all my years of being involved in small business I’ve never seen a better time for new and existing small biz ventures to be able to reach out to their local communities through the web and local search.
For so many years all we had were the physical yellow pages and then the web came our way in 95′, but none of the directories were even tuned in yet. A matter of fact I can remember meeting with the USWest(now Qwest) folks in Seattle and they didn’t have a clue as to what was going on. Or at least they weren’t letting on if they did know.
I can also remember the first time that I heard about local search online from a business associate. This was way back in 2000 or 2001 and we had been looking and searching for ways to market to our region versus the rest of the planet.
By this time USWest and GTE(now Superpages) were charging $19.95 a month for each online listing and we needed a lot of listings because of all the product and services categories we were in.
We had tons of organic traffic and the phones and email were hot and sizzlin’, and the search engines really helped us, but locally it was still primarily traditional media and physical directories.
Enough about the past – let’s dig into the present and how you can take advantage of local search marketing for your small business.
Local search marketing is much easier now than it’s ever been before and you can develop a presence in your region or community within days and weeks versus months and years.
A big part of local search marketing is the local search directory. There are more than 30 places online to find and get access to local area businesses, so you need to know which directories are the best for local search. Do your research and you’ll quickly see who the players are including web-based directories like Yahoo! Local, Local.com, Superpages/ SuperMedia (originally operated by GTE), Yellowpages, Dex, Infospace and the list goes on and on. Also at the top of the pile is Google Maps so make sure to claim your listing there as well.
Getting Started with Local Search
To get started with local search you will want to get listed in the Universal Business Listing (UBL). This is the big daddy and they feed their listings to just about everyone else online. The annual cost is minimal and you will also receive listings with most of the other online directories.
Step Two is to go back and register with the top five online directories that are not included in the UBL. Most of the online directories are free for the basic listing so make sure to fill out all the information and provide complete descriptions whenever asked. And make sure to have a list of keywords and phrases that are targeted and directly relate to what you offer.
Step Three is to take the time and check your listings. This way you can monitor and see where you are coming up in the search engines and directories.
Lastly – if you have the capability, you might consider creating landing pages and/or dedicated URL’s for certain directories. This is a more advanced strategy and you need to make sure that you know what your doing before implementing it.
In closing – if your business revolves around and relies on the local community and region, then it is imperative that you get on the local search bandwagon now, and do what it takes to get listed in as many directories as possible along with optimizing your site for the search engines.
If you need more information about how to implement local search in your business, contact The Small Biz Mechanic.