The role of local is the next great mega trend. The first being communications (email/im), search being second, next they believe is local. Local as the online equivalent of everything you consume like newspapers, print yellow pages, community forums, spot-TV, and radio. From a advertisers' perspective its about how they can get their message in front of their audience.
There's about 15 million small businesses in the US driving over 100billion in revenue, only about 1 million are advertising online today. By 2011 local online advertising nearly equals 2007 total ad dollars.
It is difficult. Local consumer experience is fragmented and still evolving, there isn't one leading source of local business information on the internet. Lack of volume has resulted in national advertisers not allocating a significant amount of their budget to Local. Small to medium sized businesses lack the time to manage search marketing and their business.71% of SMB's prefer to get a phone call than a visit to their website.
86% of search engine users search for local product and services. 92% of the internet shoppers make their purchases offline. The consumer experience is evolving to better help users discover local businesses. New streams of innovative ad units and technologies, such as pay per phone call, video ads, better mobile applications & Growth of free DA, simpler , more intuitive self service tools to update and enhance their organic listings.
In the end its about connecting hig value consumers with relevant content online.
9 ingredients to a good local search recipe.
1. web site research, content
2. site design & Programming
3. Pure Local Search Engines & Maps
5. Business Data Providers, Info USA & Acxiom
6. Local Vertical Listings
7. Social Media, User Generated Content, Images, Blogs
8. Online Videos
9. Goetargeted PPC
Make sure you do your local keyword research. Look in your own backyard.
Optimize pages for local addresses
Pure Local Search Engines Listings & Maps - make sure you claim your profile on Google, Yahoo & MSN
Using social media, blogs, flickr, video, etc is powerful.
Feeds to 2nd tier local directories and vertical directories are great too.
Location is what matters. If you want to find a pizza, you want it close, not 20 miles away. The holy grail of geo-targetting is "city" "zip code" "neighborhood".
One way to get more specific is by using Maps. When you look at a map, you are getting very specific. Basic Grid Maps, Enhanced Streetview Maps, Interactive 3D Maps - users use these to find out "what's there". Geotargeting on Basic Maps - you can narrow the level down to very specific areas.
This is really important to help businesses take advantage of local search. It's about where you are at and location is what makes it unique.
Local search is only partially about the web page/site. Less than 50% of business locations have an independent website. Gib shows some results for local search, not one of the results link to the exact local website, it's to IYPs and review sites.
Create a content cloud of content for each individual business location. Keep in mind that the content must answer both "Discovery" & "Recovery" local search queries. Recovery Content, Discovery Content - Own your content! Your foundation is built on database inclusion with data aggregators. Make sure your information is available on your website as well as with different partners. It should be short succinct data to it can be consumed by all devices - mobile, search, even Tivo.
That base of doing the work of establishing what your business is about is the foundation of this. Make sure whatever you do across the Search Sites and IYP's is consistent. Business Listing Aggregators are important as well.