Local Listings: in a Virtual Online Space, Prove You're a Real & Trusted Business
Both consumers and business decision-makers highly value local businesses, for the better service and clearer understanding of their needs. Is your business top of the pile when people search locally?
Claim and optimize local Business listings through our management , and ensure you are top of the search results when potential customers add in local keywords such as the city or state. Read on for our discussion of what's involved in local search marketing and contact us for direct, fast service quotations.
Enlightenment Media local business listing management is highly experienced with getting fast results for businesses which need to rank high for local searches. Contact us today for a free analysis of the opportunities for your business.
Exploit Your Local Brand Strength
For a strongly location-based business such as a restaurant or car dealership, or professionals like doctors and lawyers with highest recognition in a particular geographic radius, local marketing is essentially the first and foremost focus of your marketing. People in your area or searching for what you provide with location keywords must be able to find your business. When those web users find you, your relevance to their locally-focused search must be very clearly presented.
Local listings include local-specific pages on your own website(s), local directories, geo-focused social media networks, and maps including major in-car navigation databases. You also need to keep an eye on which apps your consumers should discover you in, which might include ratings and coupons systems that are location-aware.
Source: Local Search Association/Burke Inc study via Search Engine Land
Local Listings Marketing - What's Involved?
- Ensuring your location(s) are accessible to search engines, and ensuring you are correctly represented in Google My Business (formerly Google Places for Business) and Bing Places for Business (formerly Bing Business Portal)
- Online yellow pages (many different systems!)
- Listings in industry-specific web directories (choose the right ones carefully to avoid bad neighborhoods!)
- Claiming listings from map pins
- Ensuring your contact details are consistent across all mentions (important if you previously changed address, rebranded, etc)
- Making sure your location and related information (such as opening hours and local contacts) are accessible on your site and in social media
- Claiming and working on review websites, which is also something we will help with in Reputation Management
- SEO campaigns to improve rankings for searches that include local (place name) keywords
- Advertising campaigns in PPC and Display that target local customers by geo-location
One of the first benefits you'll get from a focus on positioning your business in local listings is a bettercompetitive awareness. For example, Enlightenment Media employ sophisticated competitor citation research software to find out the website listings and links which currently influence their rankings. This research will lead to you discover lots of useful advertising and listing opportunities that you otherwise might miss.
The internet is a global connector, but paradoxically helps smaller local businesses flourish. Far from making local business less relevant, the trend of the internet in recent years has been to emphasize and reward a local presence.
Why do customers prefer local businesses, even when what they are looking for can be just as easily supplied by a bigger or more national-scale provider?
We believe this is because, as consumers, we feel we understand businesses which are in a familiar place - and we generally find we are better understood by people who know our area. On a practical level, we also know local businesses live or die on their reputation, and so a local presence is a shortcut to a trusted, reliable customer experience which more "faceless" corporations perhaps don't care enough to deliver.
In the B2B space, it's the the ability to meet with a provider face to face*, and have the trust of a visible local business with a network of mutual contacts. Businesses which are built on a local foundation must emphasize these strengths in their online marketing.
*even if you don't actually expect to meet your clients face to face regularly, for them, having the implicit option... "knowing you're there"... is really important for their trust, especially at the early stages of sales conversion. Don't underestimate these psychological influences: this is why your local marketing content should go beyond basic address and maps and project what benefits you offer because of your local presence.
Whatever your business, it's a really important strategy question to ask: "What benefits do we have versus non-local competitors? Why will customers trust and value our local service more than non-local providers?" -- if you have clear answers then you will be able to design offers and sales messages that resonate with local clients.
We're not a local business. Does local marketing apply to us?
In our experience, there are not many businesses where close-to-home marketing is not important. Consider the following:
- Businesses with a global or digital/online focus still have a physical headquarters and maybe warehouse in a certain place... and clearly showing this real-life location is highly important social proof so online prospects can see you are legitimate, trusted, reputable, etc.
- A good local reputation is important for hiring staff and working with local government, chambers of commerce, and B2B services. Your business probably already works with local accountants, lawyers, car lease, a local bank branch, and so on... Build on that network!
- Service businesses covering large statewide or national customer areas will still convert better when explicitly targeted to particular cities: many larger businesses establish small or even virtual branches in order to present a local image.
- Ecommerce sellers may be surprised at the additional customer interest they can elicit if they allow people to visit a showroom, collect purchases, or bring in products for technical support.
A highly important issue for all non-local-focus businesses is how to establish a human face to the brand. If your coverage is national or even global, and if your service is provided mainly invisibly or digitally, it is hard to produce a trustworthy and "real" image of your team and premises. It is important for any business to show pictures and videos of real people in real places, that your customers can relate to and trust. Finding ways to get involved in things that are local, such as events*, trade shows, opening branch offices, or collaborating with partners who can 'host' your brand will provide you with plenty of this kind of useful marketing news and content to share.
*Have you considered offering customer support walk-in days, or business training workshops? Because these take place in a physical location (which doesn't have to be your main office) it is a good source ofattracting local interest and generating web content that relates your brand to local places.
Local business marketing is getting more complex and competitive with the additional dimension of mobile web users.
Mobile local search volume is predicted to surpass desktop in 2015 (BIA/Kelsey, 2014 study).Mobile search queries are more strongly "flavored" with local results, especially because mobile devices share location information more routinely than office/home desktop PCs. Don't rely on desktop browser searches only, when you are researching what your prospects see.
85% of small businesses say that it's important for them to be found on local search apps and directories...only half of these businesses have ever updated their online listings!
Source: Search Engine Land 2013
There are major advantages for brands doing well in both organic and paid search targeting local areas. Begin by analyzing your current data including sales/customer information. Prioritizing highly converting areas or a radius will allow you to concentrate your marketing efforts for the highest immediate returns.
Top Business in the Area
How satisfied are you with your local marketing position? Possibly you are aware of several competitors who are more active or simply more visible online. Researching your competition is important, and your goal is to reach a point where you are top of the page for all the main search terms and locations. EngagingEnlightenment Media will give you peace of mind that you've got competitive experts on your side.
A well-coordinated local marketing strategy will bring you wider benefits:
- Better SEO: all the things you are doing to improve your local online presence also lend authority to local search ranking factors
- Higher conversions and better brand recognition among local businesses or consumers, even if they never visit/meet you
- A network of links and citations that are independent of any shake-up in search engine algorithms or ad competition
- The guarantee that customers will see your brand and offers in multiple locations, i.e. you are not needlessly losing the highest motivation buyers that are out there
Local marketing is as much about branding as direct response from search queries. The more you're seen to be local and well-established by people in the area, the more you are building the recognition and trust that contribute to sales conversion further into the marketing funnel.
Reviews are an important source of localized social proof. Always add a customer's location to testimonials, and promote your location benefits when you use 3rd-party ratings systems.
-- Enlightenment Media
"A Short Checklist of 300 Steps"
The primary challenge for new businesses, or businesses newly developing an online presence, is the large number of steps involved in local marketing. The tactics that are important for influencing your customers are evolving and fragmenting as fast as those users' online habits. Just the list of "core" business directories and local apps may be overwhelming and a big time sink compared to other areas of marketing you also need to work on.
This might be a familiar issue if you or your team have started listing your business in yellow pages type directories. You start with yellowpages.com, then Yelp, and Citysearch, Localdatabase, Exit, Cliq, and Yellowbot. Oh, don't forget Merchantcircle, UScity, Superpages, and Pocketly. Check your listing in Mapquest. Ensure you are all good in Switchboard and Phonenumber.com -- the list goes on!
But local listing marketing is not a fixed list of directory submissions. While it is true that you need to claim and optimize listings in the major platforms and reputable directories that are relevant to your business, a lot of the citations and links will be things specific to your locality AND business type. This means a significant part of the work in local listing marketing is research and outreach. It is not something that can or should be done "instantly" or in a highly automated fashion.
Additional important source for local citations include:
- Press releases and local news mentions
- Articles you provide for local media
- TV and radio appearances
- Question and answer sites with profiles
- Local forums
- Resources and references you provide to local businesses
- Event listings in which you participate
- Sponsorship for local events
Local listings have much in common with SEO link-building: you need to proceed steadily, and ethically, over the longer-term. Although the results are not instant, you should see an improvement in search ranking and brand recognition as soon as you start working on it actively, and the lifetime value is high since the citations tend to stick around.
Enlightenment Media are highly experienced in safe SEO practices, giving you peace of mind as we work on your behalf to build up a network of local listings and citations to improve your brand's local profile.
"Areas We Serve"
When your business covers several areas, it can be helpful to create a series of separate pages talking about each place.
A common practice is to display this information in your website's main navigation as "areas we serve", which helps build confidence in users who are concerned with finding local and trusted businesses (which is probably all of them).
Firstly, this allows you to provide useful tailored information for certain places, such as branch addresses, delivery information, opening times, maps/directions, regional sales/support contacts and so on.
Secondly, locality pages are good for SEO (provided you begin with the above "useful to the customer" principle). Having a page focused on each important location will allow you to rank higher for keywords where people are searching with that specific city or even neighborhood keyword. A group of relevant, well-written locality pages, all linking back to your main regional/service/about page, will also generate a good link structure in general, for search engines to rank you highly for local searches, even the places not named with their own pages.
Thirdly, pages focused on particular locations are useful for pay-per-click (e.g. AdWords) campaigns where you are targeting a location. This is also true for other advertising such as social media campaigns, where a particular location might have special offers and information that don't appear on the main pages of your site.
You should avoid duplicate content when describing your business for different locations.Enlightenment Media will ensure your web pages are constructed with optimized and unique text and images. When building your own local-focused pages, consider including testimonials and case studies from actual clients in each location, to provide better proof of your local presence.
Put Yourself In Local Search Mode
No two customers search and discover you in exactly the same way. The trick is to have as many bases covered as you can. Here are some research steps you can have a look at right now:
- Show your website to a stranger or just a family member and ask them to find out key information like location, opening hours, and a picture of what your business looks like (however they choose to interpret that!) -- see how easy or difficult it is to find that!
- How clear is your location and contact information in social media?
- Search your brand name(s) and see how easily you can determine your location in all the top 10 search results.
- Find out the most common apps and search engines for your business type... if people are NOT going via Google. Is your business showing up?
- Search for local directories where you are based, e.g. "businesses in Georgetown" -- are you in all of these sites?
- Have you got live ad campaigns which promote a clear local message for a local geo-targeted area?
- What have you done recently that gets you in the local press, or connects you with the local community?
When we talk to you, we'll start, as ever, with a strategy question: what benefits do your clients get from your local presence? At Enlightenment Media we never just do one narrow marketing tactic. We're concerned with growing the long term value of your brand, and this means taking a holistic view of your strategy. Click here to learn more about our unique Universal Solution marketing.
We encourage all our clients to look at their local search presence, even if they're a nationwide or online-only business. Proactive work on an ongoing basis always brings better results in search ranking for local keywords, and local brand recognition.
-- Matthew McCluskey, Local Listings Expert at Enlightenment Media
Contact Enlightenment Media to get fast, direct help improving your local search profile and control over local listings.