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.

How Secure Is Your Password?

Do you realize just how insecure most passwords in use today really are? Just two years ago, an 8 character password made up of both upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols would have taken 2.25 years to crack. The same password today would take just 57 days. This is a good indicator of just how quickly processing power has advanced in the past couple of years.

Take a look at the table below, heat mapped with what are considered safe and unsafe password combinations. Where does your password fit in the table, and how secure is it?

A Chart Outlining the Security of Passwords Today
















k – Thousand (1,000 or 10-3)
m – Million (1,000,000 or 10-6)
bn – Billion (1,000,000,000 or 10-9)
tn – Trillion (1,000,000,000,000 or 10-12)
qd – Quadrillion (1,000,000,000,000,000 or 10-15)
qt – Quintillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000 or 10-18)


My advice is to make sure your passwords contain both upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols and that it is at least 10 to 14 characters long. You can use numbers and symbols instead of some letters, for example the number 0 can be used instead of an o or O, a $ can be used instead of an S and a 1 can be used instead of an i or an L. You should also always avoid dictionary words (the first things password crackers look for) and easily guessable numbers such as the year of your birth.

Most all of my own passwords fall comfortably in the safe zone on the chart, but one password I use less often and that I considered safe is now in the red danger zone so I will have changed that by the time you’ve finished reading this article.

Want to check to see just how secure your passwords are? Check them out here:





Cloud Backup Service – Get A Free Trial Now

Ever been the victim of a hard drive crash? If not, the odds are you will, and pretty soon.

I have had internal PC hard drive crashes, as well as external hard drive crashes, and losing all of those files and data is no fun. I was backing up my hard drive to an external hard drive, and the external hard drive crashed, meaning I lost all of my back ups.

Some Computer Statistics

Some Computer Statistics

It has been found that pretty much every single computer hard drive will eventually crash at some point during its lifetime and that means total data loss on that drive.

In addition it is already a known fact that almost half of all home computer users lose either their photos or music and other important documents from their computers each year. This is astounding and just goes to prove that in general, people just do not backup their computer files, or if they do, they back them up to an external drive, which is just as susceptible to failure as the internal drive on your PC.

Another fact concerns laptop computer theft. It has been estimated that 10% of all laptops will be stolen at some time during their useful lifespan. Also it is a fact that today a laptop is now stolen every minute of the day!

According to PC World Magazine, “Every year, 43% of computer users lose their music, photos, documents, and more.”

What all this means is that too many people are losing computer files and important data that cannot easily be replaced, when in fact there is now a solution to easily stop this from happening.

Now There’s A Backup Solution

Now there are new cloud backup services which are easier to use and which allow you to do your backups and get to your backed up files and information wherever you are in the world. All you need is an internet connection and a subscription to the service, so you can backup and restore your data whenever you want and wherever you are. No more excuses for not having a reliable backup of all your important data and files.

What is Cloud Backup?

What is Cloud Backup?Basically the cloud is just a very large server type of computer with huge storage that you can access over the internet to store your own personal files and data on. And because you connect to it with an internet connection you can access it from anywhere in the world.

With a cloud backup service you get to totally automate the backup of your own computer(s) and put it on a schedule you control. In fact you are completely in control of how often backups take place and what you backup. Of course you can restore any file you need whenever you want to.

Cloud backups really are a great way of protecting all those photo images, videos and important documents on your personal computer whether it is used at home or in the office.


What Do Cloud Backup Services Provide?

These services store and protect your data securely away from others where it remains totally private for only you to access. In many case files will be encrypted to give them the highest level of security.

Another great benefit is that you can synchronize your files between different computers and this is very easy and quick to do. Your computer can now be backed up silently each day without any intervention from you, so even if you forget that it is happening it still gets done!

The best of these services will also not restrict how much you can store on their cloud backup servers, so you will get a facility that allows you to have an unlimited online backup of as many files as you want to protect securely.

You can also get a service that allows you to share all of your files and information folders, such as your best photos and other precious data, between all of your friends and your family as well.

The service I chose to use after researching several options was JustCloud.Back up all your data automatically without having to do a thing.

After the initial backup (which took about 5 days to completely back up my internal PC hard drive, and two exterior hard drives – over 90 gigabytes of data) now, my backups occur automatically every night without me having to do a thing.

And what’s really cool is being able to access my backed up files no matter where I am or which computer I’m using. All my files are “in the cloud”.

Check out the best way I found to automate the backup process and sign up for your free trial today. You have nothing to lose, except your hard drive!


Is SEO Dead? Some Want You to Think So

Is SEO Dead? Some people (bloggers, and so-called “experts”) in SEO, would have you think that. At least that’s the message that seems to be permeating the Internet lately.

Anyone who follows me on this blog will know, I don’t post things here very often. I’m either too busy working on other things for our clients, or I’m posting things on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Google +.  So when I DO POST something here, it’s either because I need to drive home a point, clear up a misunderstanding, rant and vent, or a combination of all three. In this case, it’s a combination of all three!

Panda - Google's Algorithm ChangesSince the big South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference where Google hinted at tweaks forthcoming to the way their engines rank websites and blog pages, posts and commentary have been running rampant on how these forthcoming changes are going to kill some websites, and destroy businesses overnight, when the next phase of the Google Panda slap occurs. Some of the changes being hinted at would seem to indicate the engines, particularly Google, are going to carve a path through content engineered to benefit search engine robots, rather than the actual end-user.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has been, up until now, all about improving content for the benefit of the search engines. However, with changes looming at Google, relevancy factors are about to become the benchmark for organic, as opposed to paid, search rankings. (If you want to listen to some of the conference discussion from SXSW by a panel, including Google’s own Matt Cutts, you can hear it here.)

These changes don’t mean that SEO is dead. You will still need to pay attention the aspects of your website or blog, those things which contribute to making your content searchable. I believe the forthcoming changes are long overdue, and will only improve what you find when you search for something online, because hopefully, some of the junk will be purged.

Consider some of the criteria search engines look at when deciding which part of a website or blog appears higher in the rankings than another. Search engines like Google use something called Algorithms to determine how pages are ranked for organic search. (That’s the search that is NOT paid for with Pay Per Click Ads). Algorithms are nothing more than mathematical check lists the engines use to rate web content to decide where to place the page(s) in the rankings. The higher quality score a page receives when it’s checked against the Algorithms, the higher that page ranks… or so that’s the theory anyway.

What I believe Google is trying to do is something that has been long overdue in coming, and it has a lot of marketers running scared as rabbits. Those who use “Black Hat Trickery” to try and fool the search engines to believe their crappy web page is really better than it is, is about to get “slapped” by Google. I, for one, am glad to see Google making this move. Google’s engineers are currently working on ways to seek out and penalize ‘search-engine engineered’ content in favor of good, relevant, quality content that is going to be of value to the user. The idea behind this is to level the playing field, which will help many small businesses who lose out in favor of big business with matching budget’s for ongoing SEO work, usually based on maximizing results through the use of key phrases.

Don’t get me wrong. There are some good SEO companies out there, I’ve just yet to find one that really does what they promise, “LONG TERM”.

Some SEO Tactics are short lived, and when Google, or any of the other search engines, figure out what these SEO companies are doing, they tweak and fine tune those Algorithms to better filter out the junk.

Here are some things you need to be sure you’re doing on your site to avoid being slapped by Google for not meeting the quality criteria they are looking for:

  1. Pay close attention to details such as making sure you have descriptive titles. Otherwise, how are the search engines supposed to know if your content is relevant to a user searching their database?
  2. All of your images need to have an ‘alt’ tag. These are descriptions which make images ‘visible’ to both people who are using screen readers to access information as well as search engine robots. Remember, search engines can’t see, only crawl and read code.
  3. Clear and straightforward site navigation helps. Make it easy for people to find the information they’re looking for as quickly as possible. Drop-down menus help tremendously, which become necessary if a site is particularly large.
  4. Having a site map available to users can help with navigation around a large site. However, it doesn’t help much hiding the link to the site-map down the bottom of the page.
  5. Grammar and spelling are important. We all make mistakes, which can be rectified of course. However, a site with little obvious care and attention to the basics will not score well for Google ‘quality’.

It has long been said that “Content is King.” It now seems that in the not-too-distant future, we’re likely to see a swing back to this saying, with more ranking reward being given by Google to those pages with engaging and useful content, rather than content generated with emphasis based on SEO performance only.

If you have a Twitter or Facebook account, or any other social media channels you’re working with, but don’t have social sharing buttons on your site/blog yet, then get them or lose out.

Interaction through social signals, such as content sharing from a post or page, which you do via social sharing buttons, is going to become more and more important. Yes, you need to be setting up a presence on social media, if you haven’t already. Every time a user shares your content it’s another ‘tick’ for quality. By ‘liking’ or sharing web content a user is applying their own quality rating. That’s what Google wants to see, approval of content by content users.

I’m still amazed at the number of businesses who are kidding themselves thinking they can manage quite well without social media. I’m afraid that thinking is likely going to cause those businesses to slowly slide into oblivion in organic search engine results because their web content will not be generating those increasingly important ‘social signals’.

Change, when for the better, is good. I, for one, think this coming change will be good. From all I’ve seen, read and heard, the proposed developments in search Algorithms are long overdue and to be applauded. The sooner the better!

What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments!