About ten years ago, I was sitting across the table of a Village Inn in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was in a meeting with a businessman who was trying to convince me of the need to invest in a start-up company that was working to create local search engines for the new technology that was the internet.He and his company had noticed that there was really no place online to narrow a search for a product/service down to a local area. They had set out to find a way of making “local” stand out online.
Fast forward to today. Local search is one of the fastest categories of growth online with approximately 20% of all searches today being local in nature. My friend from ten years ago may have been too far ahead of the curve for the times, but he was right on as to the direction a growth of internet searches.
So, in this age of growing local searches, what is necessary in making “local” stand out online? I think that there are three basic things that are absolutely essential:
1. Get online! Now I know that this seems obvious, but really very few locally owned businesses have any kind of real online presence. Some may have a website, but most do not know what to do with it, or how it can bring in revenue for their businesses. Even fewer local businesses understand Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, or any other method of extending thier business outside their brick and mortar walls.
2. Get found! Now that you have an online presence, you have to know how to get found. This includes things like “online” specials, local search engine optimization, and offline introductions to your online presence. Get people looking for you, tell people about your “online” locations, and do things for your “online” followers that are exclusive to them.
3. Get consistent! Too many times local businesses will have a spark of inspiration to get online. They will get started and get found, but after a couple months, they will get too busy to keep things up and current. Once this happens, they will quickly fall back to their previous default position and their online presence will at least suffer if not just come to an end. To have long term online success you must make your online presence as important to your business as unlocking the door everyday to welcome your current and new customers.
If you will take these simple steps to making your “local” stand out online, more people will find you, more people will refer you, and you will grow in ways you could only before dream of.
Talk more later ….