Maximize Return, Minimize Cost
Local business marketing can be challenging; especially if you don’t have a large budget or if you live in a small town. As a small business, you need to maximize return and minimize your cost and time investment, so you naturally turn to online marketing and start looking for tips to help you make an effective website and drive traffic to it. There are tons of ways to drive traffic to your site and if you’ve done any research about online marketing strategy at all, you’ve seen that very few of the experts truly know anything about local business marketing. All of their tactics work well if your business is primarily online but need lots of modification to apply them to your offline local business.
Google Changes from Local Business Center to Google Places
But one tactic that works better for local businesses than online businesses is Google Places or Google Local Business Center. Google has renamed their Local Business Center and added several new features within the last month to make this an even more attractive option. By claiming your listing and making sure all your information is correct, you can make sure your listing shows in Google’s local listings every time someone searches for your product or service in your area.
Google Places has an improved customer help center compared to the local business center. This help center includes updated guides, more ways to contact Google if you’re having problems, and information on all the new features. They’ve also added a help forum with designated “Top Contributors” that are able to answer your questions if you get stuck. At least that’s what Google says…we’ll have to see how it actually plays out in practice. In addition, they’re offering improved training through more webinars. Now, if the past is any indication, the webinars will be mostly Power Point presentations with narration and no opportunity for interaction. But they also usually provide some great insights to local business marketing on Google if you have the time to attend or listen to the recordings.
Listing Local Businesses Hasn’t Changed…Much
The basics of getting your company listed and working your way to the top of Google’s local listings haven’t changed. You still need to go into Google Places and claim your business (if it’s already listed) or set it up if it isn’t.
When you set it up, remember that local business marketing success is…as they say in real estate…about three things:
As you’re entering information into your Google Places local business profile, always think about how you can add location specific information to your listing. For example, in your business name, you could add your town’s name like this: Taylor’s Dry Cleaning – Wichita’s Leading 1 Hour Dry Cleaner.
One of the new features in Google Places is an easier way for you to list the areas your serve. This will help, especially in larger cities or more competitive markets. By listing the names of the neighborhoods, subdivisions, and even zip codes you want to target, your listing will stand out above the other local businesses that haven’t taken the time to update their Google local listings.
At the end of the day, local search engine marketing is one of the most straight forward and cost effective ways to market a local business. By taking the time to set your listing up properly at Google first and then moving on to the other local search engines (Bing and Yahoo!), you’ll help insure your customers find you when they look…then you just have to turn them into buyers when they call or visit. But you do that every day anyway, right?