It’s no longer enough to have an ad in the yellow pages. Direct mail advertising, leaflets, radio ads, billboards and television – who can afford all that? Cold calling and direct email campaigns can work, but they’re time-consuming and difficult to target.
If your business depends on local customers, it is becoming increasingly critical that your business establish an effective presence online that takes advantage of local search engines and directories and methods. 90% of Americans are now using the internet to shop for goods and services, and 65% of them are using their smart phones. Businesses who aren’t taking advantage of these facts are missing out on potential business! The good news is, it’s not expensive or time consuming to get listed locally. Here are three methods every business should implement immediately.
Have you ever used Google to find a local business and noticed the map with one or more local businesses “pinned” to the map? That’s Google’s local search, and all three major search engines (Google, Yahoo and Bing) have that feature.
- Google: https://plus.google.com/local
- Yahoo: http://local.search.yahoo.com
- Bing: http://www.bing.com/local/
|Google Local||Yahoo Local||Bing Local|
Not only do businesses need to be listed with a profile with each of the major search engines, their profiles need to be complete, accurate, and linked together. Someone who finds you on Yahoo’s local search should be able to read a complete description of what you do, and then follow links to your website or one of your social networks for more information.
Local Power Directories
While these recommendations are specific to the Greater St. Louis Area and the State of Missouri, every city and state likely has similar directories in which businesses can create profiles.
A power directory is a directory that gets a lot of traffic every day, is recognized by Google, and allows businesses to create complete profiles that include multiple links to the business website, internal pages and social networks.
Service Noodle (http://www.ServiceNoodle.com) is a Missouri-based power directory that focuses on businesses that provide a service. Service Noodle uses the same service categories that Google defines, and allows businesses not only a complete profile, but also a dashboard for editing by the business owner, ratings and reviews, and up to 20 images that can help determine if a business is a great fit for a customer. Customers can also contact a business directly from the site using the Noodle form even if it’s after hours.
Missouri.com (http://www.Missouri.com) is a new website for Missouri that is going to grow to be the place to go for information about what to do or who to call in the state. While the initial focus of the site is on restaurants and bars, it does feature a Work tab that will list all Missouri-based businesses who have a profile on Service Noodle.
Finally, one of the critical aspects of social media that businesses often overlook is the fact that a profile on one of the major social networks is tied to a business address. In fact, Facebook includes their own “places” functionality that users can use to search for and check in to local businesses.
A business should ensure that their complete and accurate address is included as part of their Facebook and Google+ profiles. Businesses should also consider second tier social networks like Foursquare or Yelp.
SEO can be extremely complicated, expensive and time-consuming – but it doesn’t have to be! Contact The Social Media Hat for a free SEO consultation and help implementing these strategies.
Have you tried any of these local search strategies for your own business? What successes have you noticed? Any issues?