Up until now, well established companies with big marketing budgets and unlimited man power were the only businesses that had a chance competing for the top positions in search engine result pages (SERP).
Google Local allows any small business a fighting chance to compete for customers in their marketplace. Little marketing know-how will help small business owners remain competitive among those with deeper pockets. And with locally focused searches, businesses need to take advantage of this easy way of targeting and attracting local customers.
Why List Your Business with Google Local
For a local business, attracting new customers can be a major challenge. It used to be that you’d get listed in Yellow Pages and employ other offline marketing tactics.
Things have changed dramatically over the past few years, however. Today people are turning to the internet as a way to find trusted business recommendations. Having those recommendations available via Google Places can be a real boost to your reputation and a great incentive to buy your product/service.
Another reason for listing your business with Google is the localization of Google searches.
Local results are integrated into the normal SERP now. Over 20% of searches reference locality (city, slate, country, etc.) and Google has noticed that by giving local results more prominent spots in universal search. Also, more and more universal web results are localized even when the maps/local trigger isn’t in place.
The great news to local businesses is that a lot of times Google Places profiles get listed BEFORE the regular SERP (where big companies with unlimited resources have a clear advantage).
Your Small Business Local Marketing Strategy
So now that we’ve established that not listing your business in Google Places can be foolish, let’s learn what it takes to be a winner in the local marketing race.
In a nutshell, your local marketing strategy is to:
- Claim you Google Places Page
- Optimize your local listing (avoid spamming)
- Create citations all over the web
- Get people to leave reviews at your Google page and on Yelp/Citysearch/etc.
Sounds easy enough for any small business owner to handle (though I’d advise hiring a professional who can do this job more efficiently and usually more effectively as well). Yet, many fail to utilize the power of Google Local at all. It is estimated that only 2 million of the 50 million local businesses in US have claimed their Google Places listing.
So go ahead and claim your Google Places page, then optimize the heck out of it.
But don’t stop there. Creating citations is just as important – they validate and strengthen your Google listing. The more websites you list your business with, the stronger your Google listing will be and the higher your local search engine rankings will be. Make sure to always use the same name, address and phone number information (NAP) to gain the most benefit.
Now, whenever you follow up with your past or current customers ask them to review your business. You’ve done a great job for them after all so ask them to help your business by recommending you in return. Whether they have a Google, Yahoo or Yelp account, they can help. One trick you may want to employ is to leave a link to your Google page in your email signature.
Being competitive in local search is not as hard as you may think, so go ahead, wake up your inner marketing power and start taking your business to the next level.