Local marketing can be simply described as any marketing activity which puts your business in front of consumers within a certain radius of your location. While that’s straightforward enough, there are lots of different types of activity that fall under this neat umbrella.
Local marketing is especially important for small and medium businesses which rely on clients physically visiting a brick-and-mortar location to make a sale or access a service: dentists, physiotherapists, and chiropractors for example or retail stores without an e-commerce presence, bars, and restaurants, locksmiths, plumbers, a builder’s yard or car dealership. Our research confirms that within the last 12 months, 90% of consumers have used the internet to find a local business. Local marketing is therefore vital to connect your offering with those in need of a local service provider or retailer.
By its nature, local marketing is highly geographically specific. This means it’s important to carefully consider your strategy as you need to be sure that all of your efforts are being directed at exactly the right person within what could well be a small geographic area. The danger with local marketing is that you think too big and waste budget on incorrect location and consumer targeting.
Casting too wide a net means your precious funds (and time) will likely be spent trying to gain the attention of people who are too far away to ever convert – 93% of consumers say they won’t travel more than 20 minutes from home to make an everyday purchase, so if you are targeting too big an area with any of your local marketing tactics, anything outside of that 20-minute radius represents a waste of time and money. Likewise, it’s also pointless targeting absolutely everyone within your locality because some just won’t need or want your products or services.
Build citations for your business
The mention of the word ‘citation’ may bring back nightmares of essays and term papers but in local SEO terms, it simply means that your business name, address, and phone number is referenced online.
Citations are beneficial to your local marketing in a number of ways. First and foremost, they provide a local SEO boost which means, if you build enough citations, you could start to see an increase in local search visibility. This in turn means that you’re more prominent when local consumers take to their chosen search engine to find a specific product or service.
Citations can also help consumers to find your business on other websites, aiding discovery. If you create a directory listing for example in order to create a new citation, users of that directory could easily come across your business address or website and then proceed to your store or website. In this way, they function as new pathways to your actual or virtual door.
Finally, citations can be used to confirm a key detail about your business, such as your address, before the local consumer jumps in their car and sets out to visit you. If they come across the same name and address in a few different locations, they can feel confident that the information is accurate and trust that they’ll end up in the right place.
Optimize your Google My Business listing
Google My Business feeds information about local businesses to the search engine results pages and search engine users – optimizing this listing means confirming your information is up to date, the correct category selected and that all settings and data fields are accurate and relevant.
The information that you provide in your Google My Business listing is known to impact on where your website ranks for appropriate keywords. The actions that you perform during optimization determine what information is presented to search users and how your business is perceived. Creating an optimized description for example gives Google a clue as to what to rank you for, and can entice search users to visit your store or give you a call.
Selecting a main category and sub-category is also part and parcel of optimization and is known to strongly influence where your site ranks in Google search. That alone can impact your overall local visibility and generate more traffic.
The process of optimizing your listing also includes uploading appropriate images to your profile, which can immediately make your business stand out and capture the eye of local consumers.
Generating reviews and responding to them naturally comes under Google My Business optimization activity. Online reviews strongly influence the consumer decision-making process and can actively determine whether a local consumer chooses your business or a competitor.
Monitor local search rankings
Monitoring local search rankings as part of your local SEO campaign is as straightforward as it sounds; it’s simply the process of tracking where your keywords appear in the search engine results pages. This doesn’t have to be done manually and there are lots of affordable tools available that automate this process for you.
While monitoring changes in your ranking position can be hands-off, the insight that this data offers is invaluable. The most obvious advantage of tracking any changes in your search position is that you can determine whether your local SEO activity is generating ranking improvements or causing positions to stagnate or worse, decline. In the latter two scenarios, just having that data to hand gives you concrete proof that you need to revisit your strategy. In turn, this means you aren’t wasting precious time and resources on actions that aren’t working.
Ranking data can also help you to decide if you need to assign funds to other areas such as advertising to be visible to your target audience.
If you use a rank monitoring tool, you may additionally be able to add in competitor domains to keep an eye on how your rivals are performing. This should give you a clear picture of where your business stands in comparison with others in the local area.
Monitor and grow business reviews
Reputation is everything in business so you’ll want to ensure you’re proactive about monitoring what people are saying about you, and encouraging customers to share their experiences of working with or buying from you online for others to see.
Many businesses hesitate to be proactive about growing reviews but, if you make this a regular part of your local marketing routine, you’ll be rewarded with better search engine rankings and increased consumer trust. The number of reviews you have along with how often new reviews are published all influence your search position therefore, the more you can grow your review profile, the better your local SEO visibility is likely to be.
Online reviews have replaced traditional word-of-mouth recommendations for modern consumers. They expect to see plenty of recent reviews, make a habit of reading around 10 reviews before developing a sense of trust, and tend to discount older reviews. You’ll, therefore, need a steady stream of fresh reviews to generate inquiries and sales.
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Optimize your website for mobile
Given the popularity of mobile browsing and Google’s much-publicized mobile-first indexing, ensuring your website is quick to load and highly functional for visitors from a smartphone or other mobile device is a must in any local marketing strategy.
As with all optimization, making sure your site is optimized for mobile is no small undertaking but this investment does unlock a wealth of advantages for your business. It’s no secret that the majority of search users now go online from a mobile device. Traditional websites are optimized for desktop computers, often connected to high-speed broadband. The smaller size screen and often slower internet connection make navigating a desktop site frustrating and awkward. A site optimized for mobile gives the mobile user a seamless experience. Pages are quick to load and forms and shopping carts designed for ease of use by someone wanting to input information or checkout using the smaller screen of their phone.
Consumers expect a slick mobile experience as standard. If you fail to meet that expectation, in all likelihood that potential client will leave and go to a competitor who has taken the time to make their products and services accessible from a mobile device.
To put this into financial terms, last year’s Black Friday saw more than $2.9 billion of sales originating from mobile devices. Shoppers are spending money like never before on their smartphones and tablets – but you can only get in the running for that if your site is optimized to work well on a mobile device.
Keep in mind too that mobile optimization (ensuring pages are quick to load, that forms are easy to complete, that information is easily navigated, etc.) is also a core requirement for local search visibility. Google’s primary index is mobile-first, meaning your position in the local rankings is dependent on mobile optimization.