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Taking local marketing to the next level

Written by David Harry   
Wednesday, 25 February 2009 09:37

(the following is a guest post from Jeremy Rivera)

Locality is something that for generations has defined how effective a business can be, and has played into decisions by businesses and companies on where they place their brick and mortar locations. With the evolution of the internet, and the growing use of mobile devices, you might think off the cuff that this would decrease the importance of a business's actual location. However, location still plays a vital role even though we're entering an online age where customers could just as easily be from next door as in the next state.


Define your Location by finding your Niche


Each category of business has started to see more and more specialization, more and more websites that focus on a particular topic. This leads to more and more opportunity for the small business owner to get even more free advertising space as these niche verticals need community and business owner participation in order to become more successful. A couple of examples would be Urban Spoon, Menu Pages or Restaurants.com. These represent the new online branding through user feed-back that is becoming more and more important

Reach Out and Touch Someone...OnlineLook! An outdated advertisement method!

Before the internet, if you wanted to locate a business, you would pull out that gigantic pile of yellow colored pages and look through the local listings. This became a social norm, and nearly everyone, at least in the United States, still associates yellow pages directories with locating businesses. These companies have actually gone to great lengths to move their business models online.

Todd Butcher of Pepperjam was kind enough to sound off on the importance of getting yourself listed on online yellowpage type directories. He says...

"If a searcher is sophisticated enough to actually search with a geotargeted term, the local results are the first thing you see on the SERPS. In addition, for many local listings there are sub categories linking off to sites that Google feels provide valuable information about that business. This means that sites which are acting as local aggregators of business information are going to motivated to provide thorough and accurate information to be listed there. This will greatly improve the overall search experience."

Second, it seems many people simply search a term like "pizza" or "car dealer". Search on these terms and Google will ask you to enter a zip code to better refine your search locally. This is just another example of the importance that is being placed on local results.Also, I think Google is trying to take the emphasis away from other aggregators like Superpages and try to keep it all "in house" so to speak. For that reason, I think it's important now more than ever for the 100% local business to position themselves to take advantage of these local results.

The bottom line is, if you are a local business, it doesn't make sense to go after broad keywords. Geotarget. Do everything you can to get listed in these results.

 

Establishing Online Authority

Will Scott wrote a great piece on how yellow pages give your business authority online, because these directories use these RASCIL factors to reinforce their relevance.

The RASCIL Factors

  • RELIABILITY - Time in Business, Affiliations, Memberships and Certifications, Guarantees, Size of Firm
  • AUTHORIZATION - Authorized brands (Maytag, Whirlpool, etc)
  • SPECIAL FEATURES AND/OR SECURITY - Credit Cards and payment options, Hours of operation, Special Services
  • COMPLETENESS OF SERVICE - Product Types, Pickup and Delivery, Buy, Rent and Lease
  • ILLUSTRATION - High Impact Pictures and Headline
  • LOCATION - Location or Locations, Areas Served

To ensure that your business is seen as authoritative, it is absolutely vital for you to go to these directories and get yourself listed. The majority of these sites are free for basic listings, but some do charge to allow you to enter your URL to refer to your site.

I highly recommend this reference guide to get yourself started, because it outlines a huge chunk of online geo-specific directories, and also lets you know which sites get their data from vendor sources. Knowing those data sources multiplies your efforts because just adding to one site can post your data to 5 to 7 other websites.

 

Define your Geographic Location

Brick and Mortar businesses have an edge that they can exploit, in that their location gives them a legitimacy that services and agents without a shop don't have. There are even geopgraphic specific search engines, that are defined by you physical location. Like Los Angeles or Palm Springs. If you live in a city of any size, it's very probable that an entrepreneur has created an online directory for your specific community.

Publicize your Online Location

If you are a local business, taking the time to reserve a domain name and create a website is worth the time and effort. When you are writing the content for your website, always steer away from the stuffy, corporate speak and don't just repeat your business related keywords over and over again.

Take some time over the weekends to read a couple of articles about starting a small business website, there is a big advantage, because local search, local directories, review websites and coupons will most often have an opportunity to link to your site. Even if it's just your URL, it's still a good indicator of your relevance to an area, or to a particular trade/topic/service.

Coupon? Yes, Please!Vintage CouponWhen you add your business to local directories, and search engines you can quite often expand your listing simply by offering a coupon. There's no reason why you shouldn't take advantage of these bonus opportunities. Even Local search engines, including Google, will post your coupons based off of specific queries. Once you add your site to Google Local, make sure that you add any coupon promotions you currently are running, and take the time to create one if you hadn't used them before.

 

Useful Local Search Tools

Get Listed.org - This site just launched Jan 20th with the goal of providing a quick stop location for business owners to check and see if their listings have been claimed in the big local search areas. Based off your company name, and your address it checks Google, Yahoo, BOTW and MSN for your verified business listing. It does a good job of combining the data into a dashboard so you don't have to search for your profiles.

There is a similar service embeded into Merchant Circle, where you can check what local search directories you are listed in, and has a more exhaustive list. To access that part of their platform, once you've signed up your business, go to view website performance, then "where am I listed", and it will give you a list of sites it has recognized yellow page entries for your business. Perhaps one getlisted.org has more time to mature it will add more local search portals.

 

Jeremyrivera

 

About Jeremy Rivera; Jeremy is an in-house SEO and new friend of the FireHorse who is an active socialite and search geek (proudly displaying his SOSG badge even). You can find more of his writings on his blog Foot in Mouth Disease (something I'm known for lol...). You can also follow his ramblings on Twitter via @footinmouth - A great big THANKS to Jeremy for riding along with us and we hope to have him back again real soon... WORD!

 

 

Comments  

 
0 # Nathan Driver 2009-02-25 14:07
great read - I'm actually working w/ a brick and mortar and have always stressed the importance of showing up on every mapping system possible.
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0 # Ben McKay 2009-02-25 17:09
What a post Jeremy! Really great read...very comprehensive indeed...specifically gave a good insight into USA search, so cheers for that!

:-)
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+1 # Keith 2009-02-25 17:47
Great post! For local search tools, there are so many and I personally get overwhelmed with them all.

Here's a place that listed and ranked all the local search engines and directories. Very Helpful! Happy to share.

http://www.emarketingmatador.com/step-2-local-search-directories
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0 # Jeremy Rivera 2009-02-25 23:42
Hey Nathan,
I definitely agree- There's so many opportunities when it comes to Brick and mortars, but you reminded me of mapping sites specifically. There's a neat little site called http://www.Schmap.me that will let you make a page with a citation, map, block of text and a URL...and then there's the who topic of Geo-tagging :-)

@Ben Thanks for the praise! I'm really happy to compile all my thoughts in a helpful way.

@Keith Thanks for sharing that list, I think if you combined that with the list I mentioned, you'd have a very comprehensive map. I got pretty intimidated at the outset, but just get on a roll, perhaps pick up Roboform.com to make the submission data flow easier, and Raven-seo-tools.com to keep track of the links you build. :silly:
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-1 # Marble Host 2009-02-26 09:19
Hello,

The development behind it is very nice indeed. Simple,clear-cut, takes you directly to the pages to update. A hearty well done to the folks behind it.

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0 # Alanna 2009-02-26 09:19
I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Alanna

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0 # Joy Local SEO 2009-02-27 16:02
"If a searcher is sophisticated enough to actually search with a geotargeted term, the local results are the first thing you see on the SERPS."

There has been data that showed an increasing trend in longer search queries and also, that showed search query volume had over a 70% between Feb of 2007 to Feb of 2008.

It certainly is an exciting time for local search marketers!
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0 # Will Scott 2009-03-01 13:26
Hey Jeremy,

It was good to meet you at SMXW - hope to see you at another soon.

This was a great show for me. Some of the best industry marketing yet. I'm glad our piece was well received.

I might have also titled it "Search Engine Domination by Any Means Necessary".

Cheers,
Will
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0 # Nick Stamoulis 2009-03-02 09:16
Local search engine marketing is something that I think will slowly make the phone book disappear. Local SEO has become a vital role in marketing and advertising any business.
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0 # Rachel Burkot 2009-03-02 10:23
In defining a location for a strictly online business, how important is proximity? Will customers be more likely to buy from you if they know you are based in a city near them? Will this kind of thinking likely change as ecommerce grows and develops, or will it remain basically the same?
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0 # Jeremy Rivera 2009-03-02 10:51
@Rachel

That's a great question.

Ath the recent SMX conference, at the Panel for "Up Close with Google Maps and Local" I beleive my notes indicate that Jennifer Chin of Google referenced several times to the "Centroid" of a city. The "centroid" is the central hub, the further the distance from it, the less relevance to that particular city is inferred. ... Now logically speaking, if you're devising a local based search engine, then devising a system to give less value as distance increases seems obvious. Now how clients might perceive your value when you're an "online business" is up in the air... I think it depends on your online business model and if any part of it is affected by locality...
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0 # eCopt 2009-03-09 13:37
Jeremy,

Thanks for mentioning our local search listing guide. It's by far one of the most popular resources on our eCommerce blog, so glad to see you share it here with your readers. Again, appreciate the mention/link, good work, see you around.
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0 # Phong Chieng 2009-03-16 01:02
Great article, I found the reference guide to be very useful, and I highly recommend it for anyone getting started with local SEO. Getlisted.org is probably the first step anyone should take just to know if you're starting from scratch or are already listed in some sites. My colleague also wrote a series on Local SEO that will help anyone get a good start on their local efforts.

http://cli.gs/LocalSEO2
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