Getting your Business Listed for Local Search is Just the First Step
Copyright 2005 Off the Page
The Public has Embraced Local Search and Want to do More
Although Local Search only caught on in the last year, such queries already account for over 36% of all search engine queries. When a person adds a geographic term (like city, town, or zip code) to their search query, the results only show them the small pool of businesses located within that area - and not necessarily all of them.
Entering the search terms: "garden supply" + Denver only returns gardening stores in Denver - rather than the many thousands listed in the Google database. They’re even shown clustered on a map, to help the searcher easily spot the closest ones.
That’s significant since people prefer to shop on the basis of convenience. Research shows that over 50% of Yellow Page directory users scan for location first, before deciding which ads to read or consider. Local Search simplifies that preference further.
Too Many Small and Mid-sized Businesses are Missing the Boat
Their widespread mistake comes from assuming that the Internet is not crucial for their brick and mortar operations. The main reason for people going online is not to buy online. They find it more convenient (that word again) and faster than the traditional methods like Yellow Pages or newspaper ads.
A study by ComScore Networks in December, 2004 showed that most people who research products online purchase them from stores in their own community. That study found that 25% of those searching for electronics or computers made purchases. But 92% of those purchases occurred offline. Nearly 40% of searches resulted in sales as much as five to 12 weeks after the initial search.
Getting Listed in Key Data Bases Give You a Shot at Being Found
You need to make it easy for buyers to find you and choose you when they search online. There’s not a single place to "sign up" because there are numerous search engines, Internet Yellow Pages (IYP), and industry-related data bases. Check our whether your business appears on various prominent sites at Local Search Resouces. You do not need to be a techie or have a website to show up in Local Search results.
But you have to get into the game. Many small businesses don’t show up most places. And that’s frustrating for searchers and unwise for them.
Provide Precisely the Information that People are Looking for
What do people who buy what you provide look for? It’s up to you to supply the information they want - hours of operation, payment options, specialized services or credentials, brands carried, etc. What they need to know varies depending on your type of operation. Also, it doesn’t hurt to provide helpful buying tips and specifications, too.
Here’s how online searches are miles ahead of the Yellow Page directory. That’s printed just once a year and is out of date by the time it reaches the public. But the ad is small (even if it’s a large display ad) compared to what can be spelled out on a website.
So once you know your business is showing up in the searches, it’s time to beef up your website (or web presence on a portal) so that you stand out in the searches. Then you should start modifying your company policies and practices to make them mesh with your online activities.
You’ll Reach the Customers you Want the Most
Just to provide an additional incentive for you to wade into having an online presence, those who rely heavily on Internet searches are better educated, earn more, and make larger average purchases than those who rely on the Yellow Page directory. With a Yellow Page ad plus an online presence, you’ll be findable by most of the people who are at the point of making a purchase.
My future articles will show how to develop a Local-Search-friendly website or business policies. You’ll redefine how you provide customer service. Going to the trouble to better serve your Internet-savvy customers will give you an edge compared to your competition.
Your Need to Act is Urgent - Treat this as Front Burner
People prefer to spend their money close to home. But they won’t spend it with you if you don’t show up in the places where they’re looking. This trend is customer-driven. They like using Local Search, and just wish the information could be more complete. Even the search engines are scrambling to get ahead of this parade. And you need to do so as well.