Do you still think that a listing on the yellow pages is enough for prospects to find your local business? If so, this is a wake-up call. The truth is this: paying customers are finding more and more ways to research products and services in their area. Widespread Internet access and mobile devices enable customers to find what they need instantly, on the go, and with high buying intent. This also comes with the high propensity to share experiences online with friends. If your business is not capitalizing on this shift, then you are losing out.
Online Trends Affecting Your Local Business
Local businesses that serve a specific geographic area can no longer rely on simply placing their listing on yellow pages. Consumers are going beyond traditional methods of searching for products and services in their area. Here are some trends that you need to know:
- Local Searches on tools like Google Places and Bing Local grew by 144% between 2011 and 2012 (comScore)
- 86% of tablet owners made a purchase from their recent tablet-based local search (MarketingSherpa)
- 72% of smart phone owners made a purchase from their recent smart phone based local search (MarketingSherpa)
- 78% of all Internet users conduct product research online before making a local purchase (Pew Internet)
- 80% of users stated they have changed their minds on making a purchase because of a bad review they read online (Cone Communications)
These are trends that your business simply cannot afford to ignore.
The Shift – How Prospects Are Looking for You
Based on the trends above, you’ll see that consumers are no longer dependent on print listings and other traditional media to find businesses they need. They are using the Internet and their mobile devices to quickly locate shops. In fact, a survey by Ipsos found that 61% of global Internet users are doing their research before making a purchase. Aside from traditional search engines like Google, prospects are using tools like Google Places, Facebook Places, and Foursquare. Local Search is a service that optimizes your presence in these location-based web properties. Through Local Search, you can ensure your business is optimized for local business listings, maps of major search engines, and the sites mentioned earlier. And frankly, if your competitors are as interested in success as you are, they will be optimizing their business for these increasingly popular tools as well — if they haven't already. To illustrate the power of Local Search, here’s a “personal” example. Have you ever found a business through Google maps? Checked-in to your favorite restaurant over Facebook? Or decided to visit a local store because you were influenced by a friend who did so? Then you've personally experienced what Local Search is capable of. These online local channels will help you, at the very least, ensure potential customers in your service area know exactly how to get to you and by reading reviews, learn why they should choose you over everyone else.
Crucial Areas Where Businesses Need Help
More than just knowing how Local Search works is knowing what pressing issues local businesses are facing. These issues need to be addressed immediately:
- Duplicate Local Business Listings – Duplicates will confuse people and search engines alike. Prospect customers won’t know which listing is official and correct. On the part of search engines, they might split your listings’ authority between the correct one and the duplicate. This is one area you should definitely look into to be able to take advantage of Local Search.
- Lack of Competition Analysis – Do you know where you currently stand in the race? Are your competitors being rated and reviewed by your prospects?
- NAP Inconsistency – One of the biggest factors that affect local search domination is inconsistency of name, address, and phone number or NAP across all listings. Again, Google knows that if you confuse people with inconsistent information, your search results won’t be good for users, and it won’t rank those results.
- Absence of Profiles on Major Channels – Be there when your prospects look for you. It’s a major mistake not to open your accounts on Google+, Facebook, and Foursquare.
- Absence of Promotions – You need to attract in-store visits via deals and online check-ins. Posting promotions on key accounts can motivate prospects to check out your store and existing customers to return.
Manage the Shift – Help Prospects Find Your Business
Statistics show us that prospects are searching for local businesses online and increasingly via mobile. Your response should be obvious: move your marketing efforts online and ensure your local business is visible to those who need to find it. All of this starts with a shift in your mindset as the owner. You’ve seen how Local Search works through statistics. But more importantly, you’ve most likely already experienced its potential. You’ve felt it personally and you know it is no longer enough to rely on traditional methods to be visible to prospects. You need to be online, be visible, and be proactive. To survive the shift to mobile local searches and to thrive in it, you need to start using Local Search for your business right here, right now. Call us now or send us a message to schedule your free consultation on Local Search.