If yours is a brick-and-mortar business that depends on foot traffic, then a successful internet marketing strategy depends on local search. After all, even if millions of people were to find your website, it means nothing to your bottom line if they don't live locally to give you their business.
Want to make local search work for you? This is a good place to start. (Part 5 in the blog series inspired by our new free eBook, 11 Internet Marketing Trends 2014.)
What is local search?
Local search is exactly what it sounds like â€“ the use of search engines to search for local businesses. This may be within the major search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. But local search could also refer to search capabilities within Yelp, for example, or Twitter.
Who uses local search?
Anyone who ever needs to find a local business may use local search, so that's pretty much everyone. However, about half of local search is done on mobile devices, meaning these are people who want and need results quick and easy.
This is just one more important reason why your website needs to be optimized for mobile viewing. The last thing you want are visitors waiting around for your site to load (they won't) or struggling to read your text or click your links on their small mobile screen.
Responsive design addresses both of these issues, auto-adjusting your website to any size screen and loading for your visitors in 3 seconds or less.
How do I optimize for local search?
Simply having a website for your local business will not earn you much local search success. What you need is a local search strategy, and that means making the most of your opportunities via:
- Local business listings
- Content marketing
- Social media
To which local business listings should I submit my site?
You may submit your site to any number of local business directories, as there are dozens of them, but at the very least be sure your business is listed on:
- Google+ Local
- Yahoo! Local
Of course, the initial listing of your site is only the beginning. The last thing you want to do is create a listing or profile and forget about it. Make it a point of checking in regularly to respond to reviews or comments; to double-check the accuracy of your location, hours, and contact info; and to update special discounts and offers.
How can my content marketing strategy strengthen local search?
A sure way to attract a local audience is to create blog content about local news, events, people, and places that they may be looking for in local search. (The trick is finding a way to do this that is relative to your business, product, or service.)
You can further strengthen your content marketing strategy by catering to the voice search capability so commonly used on mobile devices.
For instance, try targeting longer keyword terms, as people who use voice search typically phrase their queries in complete sentences. And create content in FAQ format, as voice searches are typically in the form of questions.
How can I optimize my social media for local search?
While it's exciting to think that you could have social media fans and followers from all over the world, what matters most to your local business are the people closest to home. To that end:
- Make sure your profile lists your city and state as your location
- Follow local hotspots
- Offer daily or weekly specials or discounts to local followers
- Post content relative to your community
For more in-depth coverage of local search best practices in 2014 â€” and other internet marketing trends â€” download our free eBook today.