By Heather Lutze
Many small business owners think that in order to be successful, they must dominate the world. After all, their product is just as good for people in Ohio as it is in Nebraska. But often, the real business is right under your nose—right in your own backyard.
For many small business owners, though, understanding the nuances of how to attract and capture a local search audience and convert them into paying clients is a big challenge. Fortunately, you can increase your Findability, dominate web search results, and attract new customers in your own hometown.
Social Media Marketing is an excellent tool in an Internet Marketer’s toolkit. It gives you a great opportunity to demonstrate how your company is different, and it gives a real voice to your online presence. Many businesses that do some social media marketing do a good job of helping consumers find their social media platforms off the main website.
Tip #1: Get on the same page.Your blog is the most important social media element your company can create. As such, it needs to be a part of your main web site and it must support your brand. Just having a blog up somewhere on the World Wide Web doesn’t cut it. In fact, you can have the most informational, well-organized blog in the world, but if it isn’t an integral part of your web site, it’s useless.
Unfortunately, most businesses have a blog that acts like its own website and that is totally separate from the company’s main web site. As such, the blog often gets more traffic and better web rankings than the main site. The blog gets all the credit for the business owner’s well thought out, regular posts, and the web site gets none.
Therefore, port your blog directly into your main web site.
Tip #2: Keyword research. If you are going to take the time and effort to keep your social media platforms up to date and informational, then you probably want your potential customers to read them. The true power of social media marketing is the ability to gain search engine ranking by optimizing your platforms, thereby getting found in the search engines and getting traffic to your platforms.
Chances are you’ve already done the hard work. You’re giving great information, uploading videos and images, and giving customers a real value-add. Now you simply need to pick one strategic keyword per post and do a little post optimization, and you’ll have search engine ranking. For each blog, use a keyword tool such as Google’s free one: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal Find a keyword with good search volume, and simply add it into your post title and throughout the content.
Now, here is the trick for using a keyword tool to localize posts. You probably won’t see the tools diving in deep enough to get search volume for Fairfield, Virginia, or for any town for that matter. However, what works for Americans works for “Fairfieldians.” This means if there is great search volume under “Cosmetic Dentistry,” for example, then there is probably good search volume under “Cosmetic Dentistry, Fairfield VA.” So think global, but act local with your keywords.
Tip #3: Geo-Target. Many local businesses that do Pay Per Click advertising use Geo-Targeted criteria, which means your PPC ad will only show if the searcher has a local IP address in the geographic area you’ve defined. The biggest gap in running only a geo-targeted by IP address campaign is that people who are not physically located in your area when searching won’t see your ads. So if someone lives around the corner from you, but this week they happen to be across the country visiting their Aunt Betty and using her computer to find some local businesses to call next week when they’re back in town, your PPC ads won’t show.
For this reason, Geo-Targeted Pay Per Click accounts need to have two campaigns. Campaign 1 is the localized campaign that only shows ads to consumers in your area, and Campaign 2 is a statewide or national campaign with keywords that have local modifiers. Using our cosmetic dentistry example from earlier, in Campaign 1, you could show ads for keywords such as “cosmetic dentistry,” knowing that only consumers in the surrounding areas would see them. For Campaign 2, you could show ads for keywords such as “cosmetic dentistry Fairfield VA,” knowing that regardless of where that person is currently located, they have a need for a dentist in Fairfield.
Tip #4: Use Local Business Center ads. Local Business Center ads are a fantastic way to gain additional, localized ranking in the search engines. Setting up a Local Business Center ad account in Google is free—all you need is a local address and you are good to go.
Local Business Center gives you the opportunity to connect your local listings with your Google Adwords account, meaning that when someone searches for your keyword in your local area, your listing will appear with an address and phone number under the standard ad text. Even better, Local Business Center ads can be optimized.
Tip #5: Get the right audience.As much as we are targeting local keywords and local listings, there is a fine line between local and too local. For example, some businesses put their phone number or address (or part of it) in their domain name. Whereas an address and/or phone number is certainly local, it is just a bit too local. Searchers definitely identify with localized keywords.