Have a local small business? Try this easy trick to help your business get found online

The holiday season is upon us, so we’re making our lists, checking them twice, and then getting online with Google to find our shopping destinations. If your potential customers are also going online to figure out where to find the perfect gift, making sure they see your website is crucial to your sales. This simple tip just might do the trick.

It’s all about the local search

What does local search mean? It means that your potential customer searches online, not only by a keyword, but also by location (city, district, etc.) So, for example, instead of searching for ‘marketing consultant’, your customer would search for ‘marketing consultant Vancouver’.

And even if your customers aren’t actually typing in the local area, Google is automatically starting to serve up more and more local listings for its searchers. This is just another way that Google is trying to bring relevant information to your customer’s fingertips, so you definitely want your business to be included.

Is local search essential to my small business internet marketing?

You should incorporate local search into your marketing strategy if:

•    You’re rubbing shoulders with rival businesses in your area for that sought after first page listing in search engine results

•    Your business serves a particular geographic location, or you want to target locally even if your biz is location independent (more on this later)    

•    Customers are finding your business by keywords, not your business name (I highly recommend signing up your small business for Google Analytics if you haven’t done so already. This free tool will give you all kinds of insights into your website, including how people get there.)

Before shopping local, they search local

A study about the ROBO effect – Research Online, Buy Offline was released showing the importance of local search and how this affects small business owners. Customers are going online first to find local small businesses, before making their way to the physical location. 81% of 18-34 year olds go online first and 69% of 35-59 year olds do, according to the study.

Even if you have an online store and can serve customers from anywhere in the world, local search can still be important. If someone is looking to buy a piece of jewellery online, for example, and they find your online store through a search, they will feel a much stronger affinity to your business if you’re local or close by, say the same province. So make sure that your location is front and center, not tucked away.

With more and more customers looking to shop online this holiday season, your location can serve as a competitive advantage.

A super easy trick to get local search on your side

When optimizing your website, or using your keywords, add in your city or region.  So easy, but very effective.

I altered one of my client’s Google Places  keywords so it included their city, and a few days later they’d rocketed to the second spot on the first page of search results. Even though we had the address and location already listed, it was adding the city to the keywords that really got Google going. Simple as that! If none of your rival businesses have learned this trick, then you’re ahead of the game!

Where to use this local search strategy

•    All online directory listings where you are allowed to list keywords.

•    Throughout your website’s tags and copy. Have your location listed on every page (the footer is a great place to tuck this information).

•    In your blog post tags, categories and content.

•    Social media sites.

•    Any other online activity that gives you a link back to your website and lets you use keywords.

Taking it one step further

Are you wondering if your potential clients are going to enter the city before or after the keyword?  Mind reading is not necessary! The answer lies within the Google Adwords Keyword Tool where you type in the keyword+city or city+keyword combinations. 

Once the results are tabulated, scroll down to the bottom left and click [Exact] under “Match Types.” This will provide you with the totals of web surfers that used your exact combination in the search bar. If you’re in a small industry, an insignificant number of searches may show up as an inconclusive “-“ on the results.

During my research, I’ve discovered that keyword followed by location is usually the top entry method. If you’re showing success with both local search versions, then, by all means, use the two of them, but ensure to emphasize the top choice.

Martina Iring is a Vancouver marketing consultant helping small businesses succeed online. Visit her small business marketing blog for more tips, information and resources for small biz owners and entrepreneurs.

Martina Iring

Martina Iring is a small business marketing consultant in North Vancouver, BC. She is on a mission to help the little guys make sense of internet marketing through her blog, Small Business Bliss.

See all posts by Martina

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