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Many businesses that rely on local customers focus too much of their efforts on national search engine optimization. They read books on SEO and they optimize their websites and other marketing materials to show up for search engine users from Chattanooga to China. These business owners and marketers don’t realize that engaging in local marketing would be a much better use of their time. Here are a few tips you can use to achieve local marketing success so that the phone starts ringing and more customers start walking through your front door.
Local Marketing 101
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To achieve local marketing success, you need to make it perfectly clear to the search engines and your local prospects that your business is located in your specific area and open for business. To do this, you don’t even need a website. You can start with Google+ Local.
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Google+ allows you to highlight your business and your regular blog postings in order to drive more local marketing prospects to your business. The formerly Google Places page is like your own personal web page where you can highlight business photos, video, details about your business such as your hours of operation and more.
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Whether you are using Google+ Local for your online hub or you have your own website, you will want to populate your pages with location-specific keywords and content. For example, instead of calling yourself an ‘Automotive Shop’, you might call yourself a ‘Queens NY Automotive Shop’.
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Once you have location-specific keywords on your pages and in your meta-data, you will want to conduct a citation building campaign across a wide range of online directories and yellow pages.
What Are Citations?
Citations consist of your NAP – Your name, address and phone number. This information needs to be consistent across the board. If you list your business address as Suite on one online directory, it must be listed that way across all directories. Ste, # or some variation will only lead to citation confusion, which local marketing SEO expert David Mihm says is one of the leading causes of a decrease in rankings.
That’s basically local marketing in a nutshell. You populate your site with location-specific content and you keep that content coming just like any other SEO campaign. Then you build your citations out across a network of online directories and the search engines will be forced to pay attention.
While the process for local marketing success sounds easy, it’s going to take a bit of work. Don’t worry, I’ll try to make the process as easy as possible.
Keywords: Conduct keyword research using your primary keyword and your location-specific keywords as guides. Use your city, county, state and even zip code if it will help search engines and new customers find the business location.
Meta Data and Internal Keyword Linking: Use location-specific keywords in your title and description tags, as photo tags, video tags and all other tags for that matter; and while linking your pages together.
Building Citations: There are tons of online directories and yellow pages out there, too many to list here. The process of building your citations is going to be long and tedious as you go from one to the other, but the work must be done if you hope to achieve local marketing success.
Use Whitespark or Yext, two popular local marketing services that will pinpoint exactly where your citations are listed and where you need the most local marketing help. These services can even populate your citations for you for a fee. Or you can use the knowledge that you glean from them to generate your own local marketing network.
Keep The Content Coming
When you sign up with Google+ Local, your photo, content and brand will carry with you whenever you post something online. When someone searches for something relevant to your company in Google, your photo, content and brand information will show up right in the search results. And if you take your time writing relevant local-specific blogs, and if you take your time building consistent citation networks across a multitude of online directories and yellow pages, you will eventually reach local marketing success.
As with all other forms of marketing, keep regular analytics reports and analyze that data to tweak your local marketing campaigns over time. With enough consistent effort, however, you’ll eventually reach the local marketing success goals you’ve set for yourself.
Just make sure you’re tracking your phone calls and the traffic that comes through the door – ask how they heard about you – so that you can determine exactly where your marketing efforts are working.