Thursday, September 20, 2012

Using Search Engines To Connect With New Local Customers

Local Search Marketing provides you, the business owner, with the most targeted and cost effective customer acquisition opportunity.

Your customers are more and more often searching for businesses like yours on the Internet. Studies show that these customers have a serious buying intent. As a local business (online or off) you need to figure out how to cost effectively reach out to these "Local" customers and start the business relationship before your competition does.

Why should "local search marketing" be important to your business? The Kelsey research group found:

  74% of households use the Internet as an information source when shopping locally.
  Approximately 45% of local searches had a buying intent.

  The percentage of respondents who used yellow page directories decreased from 75% to 62%. (If you have a yellow page ad, it is time to consider buying a smaller ad and shifting your marketing dollars to the Internet.)

As local business owners you need to take action now. You need to keep your existing customers, and gain new customers, so you need to be found where they are searching. Local Search Marketing is where your future clients and customers will come from.

So where do you start?

Most likely your customers will have a default setting on their computers and this will be set to one of these sites for search; Google, Yahoo, MSN or AOL. These search engines all index web pages and have some form of paid advertising referred to as Pay Per Click. This is fine if you have a website but what about many small and local businesses that have little or no web presence at all? And even if you do have a website, does it show up in the search engines above?

Okay, so what other choices have you got?

There are those folks, you know whom I am talking about, who will place you not only in a hard copy directory but also have services online. The challenge is in what the financial cost is, BIG, but hey, they have been around a long time and have deep pockets. The other issue is that they often advertise in the search engines and you will find them there BUT if you follow the link to them, you need to do your search all over again! What a pain.

There are other commercial "local search engines" and some of these are good value but many are not comprehensive. If there are only a few thousand businesses in a local directory most users will leave given the limited amount of content.

So what you need to do is use a search engine like Google and search for "local search directory", make sure you limit your search to the country you're in. The results include Yahoo local search and a number of local directories. You should check these out and see what it takes to participate in the directories that make the first page of the Google search. By doing so, you'll be able to get a feel for how they work and what is needed for you to get listed competitively

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