Back in the early days of the Internet, big companies rushed to establish themselves in the online space and garner top rankings on Google and other search engines. As the number of websites burgeoned, it became more and more difficult for newcomers to compete with older, established players on the web. SEO specialists began to game the system, stuffing sites with keywords related to location, in an attempt to improve the site’s ranking when a searcher also included the location. Still, a popular restaurant in New York with a high page ranking overall might nonetheless show up prominently in a search for restaurants in Alabama – up until a few years ago, at least.
Local Search Algorithms
Today Google uses local search algorithms to tailor results based on the searcher’s location information, so that local businesses can compete fairly and squarely against even the big box stores and restaurant chains. Local search results may even include a map showing the precise location of each business, and distance from the searcher.
Thanks to Google’s Pigeon update in August of 2014, a family-operated pizza restaurant with a strong local web presence — including a Google+ page, can actually beat out a local Pizza Hut or Domino’s store, especially if the latter have not paid much attention to their store’s local web presence.
Let Your Fingers do the Walking
Yellow Pages’ old slogan seems more appropriate than ever these days, with an estimated 94 percent of consumers going online to research products before making a purchase. Instead of telephone directories, three out of five consumers are using online search engines to locate products and services. Now, more than ever, it’s critically important for local businesses to optimize their online presence, to ensure that they are easily found in local Internet searches.
Website or No Website
One of the most interesting outcomes of the new local search algorithms is that local businesses have many ways of being found without actually ever having to go through the time and expense of creating a dedicated website. Searchers can see menus, photographs, reviews, hours and locations right on a Google+ page, and even on the right hand side of the search page for locations that feature prominently.
Local business directories, scheduling services, Yelp review sites, Google Places, Google Maps and social media pages are also great sites for posting information, pictures and more, at no cost and without too much difficulty. The more sites you leverage for your local business, the stronger your online presence and the better your ranking in local search results.
Online Advertising Campaigns
Even paid online advertising campaigns are often less costly than offline efforts, and can be implemented very quickly and easily, as compared with traditional methods. Once printed material goes out it cannot be changed, but with online campaigns, changes and updates can be implemented instantly, and at minimal expense.
Online marketing campaigns also come with helpful measurement tools, to provide clear cut analytics on the success of your efforts. Businesses can monitor results and make tweaks and updates to a marketing campaign to get the best ROI.
In a nutshell, online internet marketing is no longer the sole domain of big brands and major players. With the advent of local search protocols, online internet marketing is as relevant for a mom and pop barbershop as it is for SuperCuts. It’s easy, affordable and arguably, a requisite for success in today’s high tech world.