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Is Your Business Losing Out on Local Search?

Monday, February 18th, 2013 by Erin Peters

local graphicIt goes without saying that your business needs to be online. In this digital age, your company needs a website and social media accounts just to keep up with the competition.

But getting your business online is just the first step if you want to be successful in online marketing. After you get your website up, you need to be found. And if your ideal clients are a local market, they need to be able to find your business through local searches.Local listings give business owners the opportunity to provide detailed information to users. And now, with the addition of Google + (pun intended) and Google + Pages for business, Google Places pages have been replaced by new Google + Local pages.

Your customers can now rate, review and upload photos through Google’s new local search experience.  Google+ Local helps users discover and share places. Google + Local pages are more versatile and social. Google’s star ratings have been replaced by the Zagat 30-point rating scale. Most notably, unlike Google Places pages, these new Google + Local pages will be indexed.

With Google+ Local, you can:

·    Get place recommendations based on your circles, your past reviews, and your location
·    Publish reviews and photos of your favorite places
·    View the local Google+ page for a business to see reviews, posts, photos, and related information
·    Read Zagat summaries of user reviews for a place
·    Find reviews from people you know and trust highlighted in your search results

If you don’t think customers are searching for local businesses online, think again: Recent research by Chikita Insights shows that roughly 1 in 4 searches on Google, Bing and Yahoo! have local intent. Local intent means including city names, like Palm Springs, or phrases like “near me,” when searching for a company or service provider.

Even when customers aren’t directly searching for a local service provider, search engines like Google will use the searcher’s IP address to provide geo-targeted results. For example, if you search for the term “accountant” in Los Angeles, your results might be different than those of someone doing the same search in Seattle.

As a business owner, this is to your advantage. You have the ability to geo-target an ideal demographic through local search optimization. Rather than try to rank for broad, highly-competitive search terms in your niche, you can rank for a term specific to your area.

With evidence that 1 in 4 searches have local intent, it’s clear that local customers are searching for you. The question is: Are you being found?

If you’re not taking any proactive steps to target local customers, they probably aren’t finding you. If you want to rank well in local searches, you need a strategy.

So, how can you make local search marketing work for your business?

First, you have to commit to the process. Real results aren’t achieved overnight, and there’s no magic formula to dominating local searches. While local search optimization can deliver high ROI when done well, we’ll be completely honest: Optimizing a site for local search is a time-consuming process that requires ongoing testing, performance analysis and updating.

While there isn’t a “one size fits all” solution to dominating local searches, there are some best practices that will help your site be found by local customers. Here is a short checklist of items to get you started:

·    Google Places: If you want to rank for local searches, Google Places is a good place to start. Listing your business here will help your company show up in local search results and Google Map results.
·    Google Plus:  Google Plus is a social search and content discover engine. Start by creating a Google Plus account, if you haven’t already. Both Google Plus users and non-users will now only have to type in “+” before the name of a business in order to get to its Google Plus page.
·    Develop and Implement Local Keywords: What are your target customers searching for when they need your services? Which geographical areas are you targeting? Include these optimized keywords and phrases in your website content, and be sure to regularly update your website with additional content containing these keywords.
·    Directory Listings: Online directories exist for almost every niche imaginable, and getting your site listed in niche-specific indexes has a number of benefits. Not only will these directories help your site get indexed by search engines, but you’ll also be able to rank for specific keywords through your site description. Plus, one-way links to your site generally help your site rank higher in search engine results.
·    Optimize Meta Data: Your meta data is what search engines use to index your site, and it should be optimized for local search terms. Your title, description and tags should all include local search terms and keywords that you want to rank for.

This checklist is just the foundation for your local search strategy. For better results, you might also want to consider Pay Per Click campaigns or social media marketing. Don’t forget, you’ll also need an analytics program to help you measure what is or isn’t working.

With so many options, we understand that local search marketing can be overwhelming.

That’s why we include these services in our online marketing package. From setting up an analytics account and implementing a local search strategy to measuring the results and adjusting accordingly, we help your business take advantage of local search.

Because every company has unique products, target demographics and marketplaces, Graphtek Interactive’s online marketing packages are customized for each client. Whether you need a basic package with SEO and directory listings or an advanced strategy with search engine marketing campaigns and social media management, we’ll help your business get found through local search.

Are you ready to be found by local customers? Then you need more than an online presence—you need a local search and online marketing strategy. And Graphtek Interactive can help. Contact us today to learn more about how to make your online presence profitable.

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