Why Local?

Local is one of the top three areas of online marketing that my clients ask me about, along with search engine optimization and social media marketing.  The interesting thing about local is that it is the yin to the global yang that we thought the Internet offered.  While global connectivity is a result of the web, we now understand that more than 35% of all searches included some sort of local keyword phrase or intent.  This fundamental understanding of how we search plays a significant role in how to effectively target local customers on the web.

“Local Search”

Local search is a broad reaching concept that refers to several key aspects of today’s online marketing opportunity:

Searchers use local keyword phrases in their search queries (i.e. Orlando mortgage broker, mortgage lender 32819).  Having a website with pages that target these keywords can get your website to the top of search engines for these phrases.)

Google and other major search engines may deliver unpaid (organic) or paid search results based on your IP address (a numeric label assigned) which is assigned to your local computer network and indicates location

Internet Yellow Pages providers such as SuperPages, Yellowbook, Yelp, YellowPages, etc. attract high volumes of traffic and may offer free or paid listings for your business

Search engines have their own local listing directories such as Google Local, Yahoo Local & Bing Local.

Industry specific directories provide local exposure and free or paid listings such as MortgageNewsDaily, PersonalHomeLoanMortgages, EHomeMortgages, MortgageLoan.

Understanding Your Local Market Opportunity

Our customers are generally shocked at the amount of searches related to mortgage in their local area.  To help clients understand the opportunity, we provide them a brief report of search patterns and volumes in their local area using a free tool from Google.  Google Keyword Tool External allows you to understand how many people are searching for your product or service in your local area. 

Here’s a shot video from my blog on how Keyword Tool External works: 

Getting Listed & Reviewed

Submitting your business to all of the popular online directories and yellow pages websites can be a daunting task.  Many of our clients opt for us to do the submissions for them, since the type of language you write on your pages can have a positive or negative impact on your website’s ability to rank for local terms.

An easy way to identify which directories its worth listing in is to do a couple of searches for popular search phrases in your area such as 'your city' mortgage or 'your city' mortgage broker.  Identify which sites how up on the first page of Google for these terms and see if you can list your business there for free.  In addition, make sure you get listed in Google Local, Yahoo Local, Superpages, Yellowbook & Bing.  Paid directories worth considering include Yahoo, Best of the Web, Merchant Circle, www.chamberofcommerce.com & Citysearch to name a few.

It’s important to make sure to vary the description of your business so that you are not creating duplicate content about your business on the web.  Duplicate content is easily identified and will result in a diminishment in your exposure through search engines.

You might want to consider setting up a dedicated tracking number to route all of the leads generated off of local listings’ sites to your primary phone number.  Marchex offers a product for less than $15/month, and a tracking number will allow you to quantitatively measure the effects of your time and effort in getting your site listed on the web.

Getting to the Top of Google Local

The number one question I get related to local is ‘how do I get my business to the top of Google local?’  There are factors that impact your placement on Google Local.

  1. How long has your business been listed – the longer the better so don’t wait another day.
     
  2. Do you have reviews for your business?  If not, send a nice email to your existing clients and customers asking them to please review their experience with your business, include the link to your profile on Google Local to make it a no brainer.
     
  3. List your business in other local directories.  Google Local gives extra credit based on the number of references to your website across the web and other local directories.
     
  4. Move your business to the city center.  Okay – just kidding, but the closer you are to the city center, the more likely you are to show up at the top of Google Local.

I hope this brief overview of Local online marketing is helpful.  If you have any questions or have experiences you’d like to share, send them my way!