Local social networks and local search functions have been around for a while, but location based services demonstrated their importance for salons and spas in 2011 with Google making some changes to the way they prioritize their search results, the boom of monitoring tools that help with reputation management and the increase of mobile usage (hello Yelpers!).
But don’t take our word for it – check out this heat map photo of a typical Google search. This shows you were the most clicks go on a page. Notice the clicks are pretty concentrated around the local listings? Yeah, we though you might notice that.
This happens automatically when you search since Google detects your location when you search. Have you ever noticed your location listed on the left-hand side of your search results page? This is because search engines are fully aware that users find the listings close to them the most useful so they’re putting them front and center of their results page.
With local search results at top priority, local search engine revenues are predicted to rise 12.1% each year through 2015 according to BIAKelsey, which is a whole lot better than a punch in the face especially when you compare that to TV ads at 5.8% or 4.1% for radio (ManageGlobal).
When considering the rest of your online strategy, it’s also crucial to remember that 75% of all online traffic originates on a search engine. So when you think back to all of those leads you thought came from Yelp and wonder if they started with a Google search. Or a Yahoo search. Or maybe they found you using their TomTom while on the move. Or….
Local search isn’t about just Google, which is traditionally what a lot of search engine talk centers around. In fact, there are a surprising number of local search directories popping up everywhere that are now impacting your ranking and it takes time to ensure that your listings are correct, that you are optimizing the key networks that are driving business as well as managing your reviews.
Part of the reason why local search is getting so popular for your potential clients is due to the information available on these sites that aren’t necessarily rehearsed, polished and perfected by a marketing professional like you see on a website. And many ;ocal search engines allow you to go way beyond the simple business name, address, phone number, and categories. They encourage descriptions, hours, specials, videos and more from the owner and, more importantly, user generated content like photos and reviews. People certainly trust your clients opinion over yours. Sorry, it’s a fact.
So what do you do about this?
- Claim or create your profile/venue/listing on the big (and free) networks like Google Places, Yahoo Local, Yelp, Merchant Circle, CitySearch, Yellowpages and Bing (if applicable in your region) and then look to claim your places on social networks like Foursquare and Facebook. Then move on to other networks based on how much time you have to monitor.
- Get yourself a monitoring tool, especially if you are serious about attracting new clients and managing your reputation. There’s really no reason not to gt a tool to help you save time, manage them all in one place and utilize the positive reviews as well. Try this online marketing management tool from linkup marketing that also helps you manage your social media posts.
- Create a response policy and routine that keeps you on top of what’s being said and learn the best ways to contest an inaccurate review and respond to negative feedback. This article from searchengineland.com is a great overview and it comes with a handy list of main networks and what you can (and can’t) do about bad reviews for each.
- Optimize your website for local search listings. This includes things like using local keywords strategically and tweaking your website to be geared towards local searches. For more info on these tactics, read this blog on local (or vertical) search optimization.