Do you depend on “foot-traffic” through the front door of your small business? If so, your website is more critical than ever to your success. In the past year Google has rolled out several changes directly related to local search (local optimization) and has spent more than half a Billion dollars on local advertising enhancements. When Google spends that much money, you have to sit up and take notice.
Local Optimization is a branch of online marketing that caters to customers in a specific geographical region or community. According to Google, 97% of consumers search for local businesses online. Google, the undisputed authority in search on the Web, has essentially replaced the Yellow Pages as a consequence of how consumers are looking for products and services online.
When was the last time you let your fingers do the walking?
The Internet has made it possible for consumers to visit (virtually), evaluate, and judge a small business before they even get in their car to drive over. When someone decides to get a pizza, replace their tires, or get a haircut you can be assured, to a very high degree, that they will look online for information first. However, just because a business is online does not mean it will be found. It is essential to optimize your small business for local search results, if you expect your friends and neighbors to find you online and swing through your front door to make a purchase.
Let’s dig into that a little bit.
Ultimately, a search engine attempts to provide search results that have relevance and authority. When a person searches for something on the Web using a search engine, they expect to get the best answer possible to their question or search query. The websites that the search engine displays in response to their search are based on these two factors.
As it relates to a local search:
- Relevance has to do with the physical address, category, keywords, area code, zip code and anything else that would place the business (website) in a reasonably close proximity to the person doing the search. You see, the search engines know where you are when you do your search. Try it. Go to Google and search on ‘Pizza Shop’ and see what you get.
- Authority involves the quality of the small business websites that are provided in the search results. Things like page rank, the numerical weighting or score related to the number of established links with other websites, and the relevance and significance of the content on the site, determine where your small business website will come up in the local search results.
There are literally hundreds of factors that go into how local search results are determined and presented. A Relevant and Authoritative website is going to make it to the top of the local search results every time.
If you depend on local customers for your small business, consider what you can do to integrate local optimization into your marketing mix. Local search optimization is vital for any small business. It takes time and knowledge but, it can make your brand and products stand out above your competition, ultimately driving more traffic to your website and through your front door.