|Targeting Local Search|
What are you doing to target the local search market?
I'm sure many of us have a range of local clients who only service local areas. This in itself becomes a challenge as you have to really refine your strategy in regards to local search terms.
As Local Search becomes more and more mainstream, what are you doing to target that highly valuable local traffic? In regards to on-site local search targeting, what strategies do you have in place to capture that searching audience?
Successful Example of Targeting Local Search
I have a local client who targets three distinct counties. Due to manufacturer territorial issues, he is limited in sales and service of his products to his territories. This makes for an interesting campaign.
One of the very first issues we needed to address were all of those visitors finding the client using general search terms and not refining their search to their local area. It's great to have the #1 position for a money term but, only if it brings an ROI. In some instances, it can have a negative impact as the company will now receive requests from consumers that they cannot service. What do you do in a situation like that?
One of the ways we've addressed this particular clients woes in not being able to service many of the incoming contact requests, is to clearly state at various intervals on the site that the client only services customers in... ¦ County 1 ¦ County 2 ¦ County 3 ¦
This has helped considerably in deterring many of the requests that cannot be fulfilled. It also brings into play a set of targeted regional keyword phrases that are linked within the overall site structure. Those links lead to pages that are designed to target that particular county and/or city. We built those pages specifically to target the local area and help the client in targeting regionally specific searches and/or Geo-Targeting. No, these are not Gateway Pages if that is what you are thinking. ;)
We might have the client take their digital camera out to the location and take various photos of the building, the interior, staff at work, etc. We then develop content based on the imagery while targeting the local search market for that area. We'll provide links to get directions with predefined destination addresses so the consumer only needs to enter their starting address.
We may also develop additional pages that discuss the staff and each of their responsibilities. This provides local companies with an online "Get to know us better" area. It also adds to the overall local search theme for that particular area.
You may have a client who has 20 locations. That is great! That means 20 more pages of content to work with where you can really focus on Local Search.
What about those clients who have 100+ locations? Well, then you most likely get into a dynamic environment and can really drive targeted local traffic.
The most important element in all of the above is that you have a detailed Contact page for your local audience. That page needs to be linked to from at least all of the primary pages of the site. An ultimate scenario would be to include the link in a footer include or other included content that appears on all pages. They need to know...
- Where you are located.
- What your phone and fax numbers are.
- How to get there.
- What your business hours are.
- What your holiday schedule is.
- 24 hour emergency information if applicable.
- And the list goes on and on.
Please feel free to add to the above list.
Okay, a shameless bump!
It appears that Local Search doesn't interest anyone. You may want to pay special attention to this one as the major search engines are gearing up for a heavy push into local search. Here is a recent Yahoo! topic on local search...
Yahoo! Local Officially Launches [webmasterworld.com]
For those of you who may be skeptical of Local Search, give it a test. One of the first things you'll want to do is get registered with the Local Search Directories. Here's one of them...
InfoUSA [list.infousa.com]. Where are the others?
Another great post pageone!
It seems to me that consumers are quite interested in local search, based on what Isee in my logs.
While my site appeals widely geographically, I do have 2 sections of the site that attract a local search visitor. It's quite interesting to see how folks narrow their searches down to a local level.
One of the first things we do is run a PPC campaign with lots of Geo Qualified terms to find out the volume of searches for particular terms so we know exactly what types of keywords we want to do SEO for.
I find that using a map page, where a visitor can click on an area of a state/city/geo region and then navigate to the specific office they are looking for is a great help in showing visitors that not only do you have a physical location - but you service their exact area.
This is also one area where I find it useful to put both an 800 number on a page and a local number. Showing the local extensions is something that appeals to people as they know you're not just servicing the area - you also have a presence near them.
Top secret strategy: Buy the county dot com domains while you still can at a reasonable price, i.e., WidgetCounty.com.
I've run some test sites of this kind. I'm happy with the results.
The nice thing about geo-targeted county sites is how well they match the ancient strategy of most yellow pages companies and, therefore, the mindset of many people who have 'looked it up' in their local, county yellow pages for decades.
So, you built the site a bit, build in some free listings, offer to charge a reasonable sum for the additional listings, feature yourself prominently, add a community BBS. The nice thing is how, by serving the community you also bring the community to your 'other business' - front and center. Example: Jeff, the friendly lawyer, just happens to be the only lawyer on the website - but there's plenty of shops, plumbers, etc. (Annoys the heck out of the competition, you say? So sad ;-P)
What's also nice, about WidgetCounty.com, is that it's easy to market in other media to get the local region to buy in. A few signs on trucks, a few bumper stickers, a small but prominent ad in a local rag. The really nice thing is that the domain name as 'a place to look' has a lot of stickiness built into it at the local level. People tend to know and remember the county they live in. Instantly branded. Of course, you want to build out the site a bit before the awareness campaign. If this is all just a bit too easy then there's a million other avenues to try ;-)
Important bottom line: In local search think outside the search box. Since most of your traffic will be local you can get to local eyes and minds in many economical ways without having to be loved by search engines. Also, at the local level word of mouth is so much easier to evoke than at the global level.
Anyone who makes his mark using this approach is entitled to provide me with a supply of Cohibas or to let me sit on a rocking chair on the porch of their beach house, drinking the beer I helped them buy ;-)
In case I didn't make myself perfectly clear: If you are offering web design and internet marketing services, especially geo-targeted (local, regional) services, what better vehicle and more attractive "us only offer" than to offer all your other service plus the ability to feature your customers website in the local area website/directory etc.
This is a multiplier: You promote your services locally, picking up local clients. You sell the client on the benefits of local search. You sell your clients on listing in the WidgetCounty.com site. You advertise WidgetCounty.com in local media - needing little more than to get www.WidgetCounty.com before the eyes of people who are online. In WidgetCounty.com you promote your web design services and local marketing expertise and so on.
Just one angle on the local search issue. A thing of beauty in my book. Hopefully a good headache to the local yellow pages. What got me started was when the local YP wanted to up the cost of my ad to $16,000/year.
Yeah, I can go for that. I can go for that like I will be going for their jugular over the next few years.
Local county yellow pages? $16,000/year for leads? Oh, yeah, I know "All it takes is one case." Phooey! P-tooey!
Local yellow pages, I fart in your general direction!
So, Ed, how's the weather out there? This 'local search' thing, well, ya know, it just doesn't have that much sex appeal right now, ya know? I mean, local search, how's that gonna help me with my affiliate program thingy?
So, what's the deal? Everyone hard at work getting ready for the Christmas rush? Seems a bit desolate around here, so that's my guess.
|how's that gonna help me with my affiliate program thingy? |
Maybe that's why this thread hasn't taken off - this really resolves around a physical business and not a webbased shopping cart.
When you compare the cost of PPCing/SEOing leads for a local business compared to the 5-6 digits people pay for traditional YP advertising - often a business can cut their ad from a half page, to quarter page, and the money left over will promote their business on the net for an entire year with more total leads, and have money left over on top of that.
The problem is that the only people who are excited about local search are the search engines. Very few of the custom tools they have built work much better then simply typing in "keyword city" into the standard search box.
And showing up for those types of searches (of which there are very few) usually doesn't take much more than putting your address on your site. So what really is there to be excited about.
Ahhhh, but is there an economic tension between spending money and effort tuning algos to do a better job of producing better organic local results AND sitting back and saying "Hey, there's some profitable partnerships to be had with the local yellowpages, why bother"?
Will search results favor the YP listings? Display them 'up top', etc.
Guerilla, your POV: Just add the address and zip code and let everything else sort itself out.
Hmmmmm. Is it really that simple: Index.htm: <H1>Web design firm, Lakeshore Drive, Chicago</H1> - voila!?
In addition to local search being an added plus for your local clients, you'll want to get listed with your local Yellow Pages. Over the past few months, we have seen more referrers from local online Yellow Page listings. Here in California, Verizon appears to be a good solid provider of referrers for Yellow Page users.
There have been enough referrers to justify bringing it to light. ;)
Ah-ha, things are starting to heat up a bit...
SBC Communications and BellSouth will acquire YellowPages.com [news.zdnet.com]
|Based on the deal, the two companies said they plan to launch a joint venture between their respective directory affiliates that will aim to capitalize on the visibility of the Yellow Pages name and assemble a comprehensive online directory of U.S. businesses. The carriers said they hope to tap into the growing market for regional Web search. |
I can suggest my toughts concerning local search.
Except of all mentioned above I'd suggest local domains. In case if you are interested in British traffic - it is better to buy a .co.uk domain, because if user's query is targeted to be searched in UK then it is doubtful that a .ws .ca or .us domain will appear in SERPs. Many webmasters neglect this purchasing domains like domain.ws being temted with possibility of registering a popular keyword (I mean that if, for instance, dating.com is already registered, there can be a free domain in other zone). And then they wonder why there is no traffic. Imagine how would you search dating? I'd definitely search it using local search.
In case if I need to make a site for special city - I use the same - there is a subdomain for each city in my area.
In case if there is no city or localities domain names I register a domain name containing geographical name -
keyword-location.com - this also helps.
I also try to get as many links from local resources as I can. For instance if I need to improve "vehicles detroit" keyword, I register vehicles-detroit.com and then find as much sites mentioning detroit as I can and swap links thus rising relevancy of the "detroit" keyword.
Guess all those keywords people can search by - use #*$! or overture or whatever you want to get them. Sometimes I even notice people coming from Google by the telephone code of the area, so it is good to put a telephone number, postal index of the city abbrevation of the city, etc.
There are more things I use, but these are the basic tricks, which I consider as the "must to".
Hope this helps :) Regards! And sorry for my english ;)
Good Idea Maxim.
Thats really beneficial. One more thing, I would like to add is "localised hosting. I have seen that, if you have a chicago.widgets.com and texas.widgets.com , it is a good idea to host these 2 sub domains in these respective regions. This may be a little difficult to find but worth the effort. The SERPS are affected by the location of the server as well.(in my personal opinion). Though this is a more deeper level. I have tried this testing on the Country level and have had success. Just my 2 cents.