Local Search Marketing – Why You MUST Do It

The major search engines have advanced to the point where they’re able to deliver highly contextualized and personalized search results to users. Local search techniques enable both the paid and organic portions of the search engine results pages (SERPs) to display results tailored to the user’s specific location. This makes local search marketing invaluable for local businesses that wish to provide accurate and actionable information to prospective clients.

Local search marketing is becoming more and more important for businesses

Great—But What Exactly is Local Search?

In a nutshell, local searches enable users to make geographically constrained searches on search engines against a structured database of local business listings. Typical local search queries include information about what the user is searching for (such as a business category or product category), as well as where they’re searching for it (such as street address, zip code, city/town, or state).

Examples of local search queries include “hotels in Tokyo,” “best restos in Manhattan,” and “nail salon Springfield, IL”.

According to Neustar Localeze (@Localeze), over 350 billion Internet searches were made last year—a growing percentage of them on mobile devices. Mobile is projected to overtake PCs as the primary platform for Internet-based searches, and studies show that nearly half of all Internet searches conducted on mobile devices are local in intent.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Local Search

Google’s insightful study about local search—Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behavior—demonstrates how vital local search has become to driving customer acquisition and retention.

According to the study, four in five consumers use search engines to find local information. These consumers are using their smartphones, computers, and tablets to look for store addresses, business hours, product availability, and directions. Mobile users who engage in local search are particularly proactive: 50% of consumers who conduct local searches on smartphones visit stores within the day (in contrast, only 34% of consumers who conduct local searches on computers and tablets visit stores within the day).

Moreover, consumers prefer—and act on—location-based ads; four in five consumers want ads customized to their city, zip code, or immediate environment. Consumers also find location information in ads helpful, and more than half (60%) have used location information in ads. Consumers who utilize computers and tablets prize store addresses and phone numbers in ads, whereas consumers who use smartphones prize directions and call buttons in ads.

Getting Started with Local Search Marketing

While local search marketing is cost-effective and delivers great results, many novices consider it to be both daunting and complex. “Local search marketing encompasses a complex ecosystem that spans paid, earned and owned media. It is always on and continually evolving, and that need for fluidity and adaptability is a barrier to entry for even the most digitally savvy marketers,” stated Jon Schepke in an article for Advertising Age (@adage).

Schepke considers local to be a great way to build closer connections with consumers across search, social, and mobile, “in the moments where and when it matters.” He went on to list valuable tips to help marketers jumpstart their local search marketing initiatives:

  1. Understand how to prioritize local search. Brands are advised to pursue local search marketing at a pace that is appropriate for them. The scope of their efforts should depend on the size of their local footprint and the degree to which their customers are mobile savvy. Hence, multi-location brands that have a large local footprint and a considerable mobile audience should ramp up their local search efforts quickly to meet the demands of this audience.
  1. Identify your approach for adopting local. To help brands successfully embrace local, Schepke recommends embracing a local marketing adoption curve. This adoption curve stipulates the steps a brand should take depending on their stage in the process: (1) the crawl (getting the basics right with local listings); (2) the walk (search engine optimization and optimizing local pages); and (3) the run (hyper-local paid search and paid social targeting DMAs).
  1. Asses the role of an automation tool set. Some marketers are unwilling to embrace local search marketing because previous attempts required lots of resources and manual effort. This inefficiency arises because such marketers are using non-local search tools to run local search marketing campaigns. In other words, to reduce frustration, marketers need to pick automation tools that are specifically tailored to local search marketing. “These tools offer automation capabilities that make local marketing more manageable and less complex in creating contextual brand experiences.”

Prioritizing and Managing Local Search Marketing

Successful local search marketing campaigns require customization, careful implementation, and continuous management. Depending on the nature and scope of the brand and target audience, a local search marketing campaign can encompass some or all of the following:

  • Google, Bing, and Yahoo local listings optimization
  • Optimization for maps on Google, Bing, and Yahoo
  • Optimization for review sites (such as Yelp, Urbanspoon, and Zagat)
  • Optimization for Yellow Page directories (such as Insider Pages and Superpages)
  • Optimization for local directories (such as Citysearch and Localeze)
  • Optimization for business directories (such as InfoGroup/InfoUSA and Acxiom)
  • Optimization for niche- and industry-specific directories (such as Health Grades)

Marketers should further optimize their listings by ensuring that they are claimed/verified, accurate, and up-to-date.

Local Helps Marketers Transition into Contextual Marketing

As indicated in Forrester Research’s report—Uncovering the Benefits of Local Search Marketing—(@forrester) local search marketing produces various benefits. Among these are increased brand awareness, improved quality of leads, and more leads.

Another major takeaway from the Forrester report concerns local search marketing’s ability to initiate marketers steeped in traditional marketing approaches to contextual marketing. “Local can provide a straightforward inauguration into thinking more about brand interactions than campaigns and more about customer moments than about media schedules,” stated the report.

Lastly, marketers are advised to scale operations successfully by adopting an appropriate local marketing automation tool set. Tools that specialize in feed accuracy, content optimization at scale, as well as web and social media templates, can relieve otherwise manual effort while maximizing brand visibility.

75 Percent of People Buy Their Home Online – Realtors – Are You Ready?

Real Estate Internet Marketing is gaining a lot of importance these days, and is very important for those engaged in selling real estate online.  According to a survey conducted by a top-rated magazine, more than 75% of people now depend on the Internet to buy their dream home.

Since many Realtors have their own sites on the web with features such as pictures of properties as well as floor plans, it has enabled the potential customers to experience hassle-free home buying.  A website not only allows a Realtor to promote listed properties, but also to promote the services they render.

But, there is such a large number of real estate-related websites that it has now become an overwhelming process for a particular real estate website to get ranked high among the search engine results.  Herein lies the role of real estate internet marketing.

A large number of proven real estate internet marketing techniques are now adopted to improve the ranking of a real estate-related website for better search engine visibility, such as search engine optimization, search engine submission, pay-per-click marketing, link analysis, affiliate marking, and e-mail marketing. Among which, perhaps the most prominent one is search engine optimization, or SEO.

Real Estate SEO contains a series of strategic and technical solutions including a selection of the most appropriate keywords, preparing search engine friendly content, linking and submitting the website to major search engines like Google and Yahoo.  All of these factors work together to enhance a real estate agents’ website ranking in the search engines for real estate related keywords.  Although real estate SEO work can be done by business owners themselves, it is better to seek assistance of an experienced SEO firm.

A reputable SEO firm conducts a detailed analysis on your real estate business as well as your target markets, apart from structuring your real estate website with appropriate search terms, synchronizing Meta title and descriptions, and formulating link popularity programs.

Any Realtor who’s serious about competing online should move forward with proven real estate marketing techniques like real estate SEO.

Until next time…

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12 Secrets to Website Success

Here are twelve secrets to website success.

1. Have specific goals for your website.

2. Know your customer or site visitors and what they want to get out of your site.

3. Have pages dedicated to specific items or subjects the customer or site visitor is looking for.

4. Don’t make the home page of your site a “flash” animation. Web visitors routinely skip those animations (or just leave) because they aren’t interested in pretty graphics. They want facts. If you’re going to use flash to demonstrate your product (or a video) let people choose to view it, don’t force them to.

5. Make it easy for visitors to find what they want. Use a simple navigation structure, and if you use drop down menus, make sure visitors can actually click on the links without the drop down rolling up before the person hits the link they want.

6. If you’re selling products, have category pages plus individual pages for each type of product. (For example, if you are selling furniture, have one page for dressers with links to individual pages for different types and manufacturers of dressers, such as Broyhill, Lane, etc.)

7. Pay attention to search engine optimization (SEO) in setting up pages. The more closely the page title, page description, and keywords match what someone would search for, the more likely they’ll find the website, and the more likely they’ll buy whatever product is advertised on the page. Don’t stuff your keyword tags with words that aren’t relevant.

8. Have a means for legally and ethically capturing visitors’ email addresses so you can contact them in the future.

9. Plan to advertise and market your site on an ongoing basis through all methods available to you. Don’t think that just putting up a website is the end, it’s only the beginning!

10. Track and measure traffic, bounce rates, sales conversions and progress.

11. Ask for feedback from site visitors and stay in contact with those visitors (those who gave you their email addresses) on a regular basis so they remember to come back to your website.

12. Keep your content updated. Unlike blogs, where content is constantly being updated (or at least it should be), websites tend to be more static. But the days of slapping up a website and just leaving it for months (or years) are gone. You must be willing to update your site and give visitors a reason to keep coming back. Otherwise, they won’t, and you’ll be constantly faced with the battle of finding new customers and clients, over and over.


What is Going On With Google?

The world of search engine optimization (SEO) is in an uproar these days. If you have any kind of Internet-based business, or a business that largely depends on Internet leads, you need to know what’s going on – and how you can take advantage of it.

As you should already know, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is all about getting your site listed in the search engines’ top results. The higher up in the results you rank, the better chance you have of capturing your prospective customer’s attention. Get them to click on your link, and you are on your way to making a sale or getting a new client.

So knowing how to get those coveted high rankings is critical to the success of your Internet based business.

The way search engines currently spider, rate, and index a website depend on various factors, including link popularity, content, site structure, and a mixture of other variables. All of these can be manipulated by most webmasters and SEO specialists.

But this could be changing very soon!

The word on the Net is — search engines are changing the way they spider and index websites to help them serve better results to their search audience. They are incorporating new ranking algorithms that will take into consideration input that is submitted by “real people” (as opposed to primarily software calculations).

Google (and the others) will give higher priority to sites that Web surfers vote for. The way a Web surfer “votes” for a website will be completely transparent. It will not be something that can be easily manipulated by webmasters and SEO specialists as it has been in the past.

If this happens, we will see an entirely different pattern emerge – and it will affect thousands, if not millions, of websites across the Internet. Many that were once showing up in the top 10 results will no longer be there. New sites (rated using the latest algorithms) will take their place.

Google currently asks Web surfers (normally users who are logged into their Google account) to move their search results around, based on the surfer’s own idea of how important each one is. If they like a certain page in the search results, they can move it higher on the list so that anytime they search for the same keyword(s) they will be presented with their own personalized set of results.

Google claims this data is not currently calculated in their existing algorithms, but I seriously doubt that. Search engines are constantly looking to improve their search results. By using actual feedback provided by their users, they can get a better understanding of what Web surfers consider relevant.

So that’s the main thing that I think will make a difference in the way results are ranked in the future: Web users will have more influence. In addition, I believe the search engines will be spidering online videos, article comments, and social media.

Having videos on your website and/or blog helps your SEO now. (Webmasters love to link to good videos.) But if a search engine can actually read the contents of a video, you might have to give more serious consideration to the content of the videos on your site than you have in the past.

According to many SEO analysts, search engines will be looking at criteria like these when scoring your Web pages:

  • How often have Web surfers moved (voted) your listing to the top of the results?
  • What type of searches have those users performed in the past?
  • How many times has your page or blog been bookmarked (voted for) on a majorsocial networking site (i.e., Digg.com, LinkedIn.com, and StumbleUpon.com)?
  • How many other sites are talking about yours?
  • Does your Web page or Blog have video? If so, how long do people watch it?
  • How often do website visitors return to your site or blog?
  • How many comments does your page or blog have on it? (More people posting comments on your page means more popularity, as far as search engines are concerned.)

What YOU Can Do About the “New” Ranking Rules

The new search engine ranking methods are sure to bring a lot of changes to the world of search engine optimization. But don’t worry. You won’t have to learn a bunch of new SEO tactics. One thing will always hold true: GOOD CONTENT IS KING.

Plain and simple, if you have good Web or Blog content, surfers will bookmark it, comment on it, and talk about it on other websites and blogs. Whether you are offering useful videos or informative articles, people appreciate high-quality content. And search engines will take notice as well. This will continue to boost your SEO efforts more than anything else you or your webmaster can do.

With that said, keep in mind that no one knows for sure what the search engines are going to do. They guard their secrets like the CIA guards theirs. We can only make an educated guess as to what the future of SEO holds, and try to keep on top of the latest changes.

One more thing. Keep in mind that even a top ranking on Google won’t mean a thing for your business unless you can turn the resulting traffic into paying customers.


In subsequent posts here, I’m going to expand on this article, and tell you more about what you can be doing to take an ACTIVE ROLE in helping your own site or blog deliver exactly what Google (and the others) are going to be looking for.

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