This is a presentation that I gave at the Yankee Dental Conference. Although the slides use a dentist as an example, the content is applicable to all local businesses trying to drive new customers or patients to their business using local search marketing techniques.
(Email subscribers: get the presentation on Slideshare or via the Masterful Marketing Blog directly)
Let’s face it! Your future patients, clients and customers are going to find you one of two ways:
- Through a referral from a family member or friend, or
- By searching online using keyword phrases that include a local component.
And if they look online and you aren’t there, or worse, you are there with negative reviews and an inconsistent brand, they will choose someone else to meet their needs. So in order to effectively compete, you need a high quality online presence that is consistent, controlled by you and helps your business or practice stand out from the rest.
- According to Google’s Marissa Mayer at SWSX 2011, 20% of all searches are local (40% if mobile), i.e. dentists marlborough ma
- According to comScore, there are 18 billion monthly searches across the major search engines on average, translating to approximately 3.5 billion monthly local searches. Google’s share is about 65%.
- According to the Local Search Study conducted by TMP/15Miles/comScore:
- 80% of local business transactions occur within 15 miles of consumers’ homes
- 69% of consumers are more likely to use a business if they find their information online
- 82% of local searchers follow up with a phone call or visit your business
- 61% of online local searches result in an offline purchase.
Local Search Opportunity
There is a huge opportunity for small businesses to optimize their local web presence.
- According to Marketing Sherpa, only 27% of 1500 businesses surveyed actively optimized their site for local search
- Only 16% of local businesses have claimed their Google Places page
- According to BIA/Kelsey, by 2015, 40% of the total marketing spend for small businesses will be spent on online marketing
Simple Local Search Marketing Plan
In 6 steps, you can have a simple local search marketing plan that will help you take control of your online visibility and be found more often by that profitable local prospect.
- Conduct a Web Presence Analysis
- Develop a consistent brand
- Define clear messages to your ideal client/patient
- Select which online strategies you will use that make sense for you
- Put together an action plan for implementing the strategies
- Review periodically and adjust as necessary
Selecting Your Online Strategies
Being found in a local search is a combination of:
A quality website – Establish your online home base with a quality WordPress website. WordPress gives you the best option for being able to update the content and maintaining control. Do not allow someone to create your site in a way that ties your hands.
Local search – Local search includes claiming your local business listings in the top directories and optimizing them based on your top keyword phrases.
- Do a search for your business and identify the local directories that you find a listing. Then claim at least the following: Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Merchant Circle, Yelp, Insider Pages, City Search and Local.com. Select others that may be popular in your area if necessary.
- Select the top keyword phrases that people use such as “dentist marlborough ma” or “plumber sudbury ma” and use them in your descriptions in your listings.
- Ask for reviews. According to a Local Consumer Review Study conducted by BrightLocal, 69% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Put a button on your website to direct your audience to a page that lists links to all of your local business listings to encourage reviews across different sites.
- Fill out your business listings completely, including descriptions, links to your website, images and videos, etc.
Social media profiles – The selection of which social media platforms you use is dependent on your business and your resources. It does not make sense to try and be present on too many platforms if you don’t have the time or people to help you stay actively engaged. A simple strategy like the following may be sufficient:
- Create a Facebook Page for your business or practice
- Put a Like Box on your Website and
- Encourage your customers/patients to like your page.
Then create a system that helps you remember to post daily with tips, ideas and news of interest to your target audience.
Own Your Web Presence
Remember that your web presence is a business asset and like other assets, you need to remain in control of them.
- Always register your own domain – use a service like Godaddy.
- Purchase a hosting plan that supports WordPress – Blue Host or Host Gator come highly recommended but there are others. Do your research. Then find someone that will build your site in WordPress and will train you on how to maintain and update the site yourself.
- Research keywords and optimize your website using your keyword list. Have the WordPress SEO plugin installed to help you implement on page SEO for all pages on your site.
- Add Google Analytics and Webmaster tools to track progress
The bottom line is to seek help but stay in control of your web presence. It’s fine to outsource when necessary but work with someone who understands the importance of you maintaining control of your business asset. In the end, it is your business’s reputation that is on the line and as the business owner, you need to ensure you always are aware of how you are perceived.
What is your plan for adding local search marketing to your marketing activities?