Online retailers that don't have a specific geographic base have the luxury of doing business with consumers and companies all over the country. Unfortunately, most organizations need to attract residents or commuters who spend a great deal of time in specific regions. This may not seem as important to small businesses at first glance, but it is becoming the basis for a great deal of internet marketing strategies.
New York City was host to the Search Marketing Expo from September 13-15, and some findings from a keynote panel, according to Small Business Trends, indicate that companies need to take this local focus into account. It appears that one fifth of all internet searches have a local intent, while one third of searches from a mobile phone are concerned with a specific geographic region. Here are some ways that marketers can make good use of this phenomenon.
Search engine optimization
Many small businesses focus a lot of their time and energy tailoring websites to Google and other search engines using specific keyword combinations that involve products and services. However, it is equally important to include geographic information. Searches for "artisan bread" or "independent insurance broker" will certainly not be as effective for a user than those that seek "Beacon street Brookline bakery" or "Needham health insurance." Such information is equally important for companies to include in their SEO strategies.
In addition to providing information for web searches, companies can supply data to Google, which is responsible for a great deal of the mapping and documentation of places and businesses on the internet. Google Places, for instance, contains a lot of valuable information that consumers use daily. Businesses can register for this service, giving consumers the ability to link directly from a web search to directions straight to a store or office.
Ratings and reviews
Mobile users are often in need of products or services while they're on the go, so they don't always have a lot of time to perform in-depth research. Platforms such as Yelp, FourSquare or CitySearch developed as ways for people that were out and about to quickly review the reputation and image of an organization before committing to it. Therefore, soliciting reviews and interacting with these services on a regular basis will help to educate customers about a location before they ever set foot inside.
Many tech-savvy individuals are familiar enough with traditional services that they may want to go a step further. They may do so by looking for pictures of a store, restaurant or office while they search. This can not only help them to find it, but is an important advertising tool in and of itself.