If you are a business owner, you have likely heard the term “Local Search” thrown around in just about every digital marketing pitch presented to you. It is one of those services that, unless you fully understand how it works, likely does not seem to hold much value. From our experience, it is not the easiest concept to grab a hold of without a visual, which explains why it is typically bundled in with other digital marketing services rather than sold alone. We are convinced that every business, especially ones that have a physical location customers can come to, need this service and by the end of this article, we know you will agree. Let’s dive in.
What is Local Search Marketing?
Local Search Marketing, also referred to as “LSM”, is a central hub that gives you control over what information people see or do not see about your business. This tool takes your business information and spits it out across search engines and other information sources everywhere online it counts. When you think of the term “Search Engines” you probably immediately think of: google, bing, and yahoo. These are three very important search engines but the digital world has and continues to expand and your information is now accessible (or not, if you don’t manage it) in hundreds of other places. For example, Siri, Alexa, Facebook, Yelp, Wayz, Uber & more.
If you are thinking: “I only care about the major search engines like Google ”, let’s consider how Google itself works. Google is a huge database that seeks out information from other sources on the web to give you what is called a “Google citation” every time it finds you. If your information is not consistent and accurate, or worse not there at all, it will be harder for you to perform well on their platform. Google rewards you for accurate and consistent information across the web as a whole by showing you higher up in search results and in maps listings. After all, their goal is to make information easy for their end user. They do not want to provide inaccurate information or it ultimately hurts their user experience. Therefore, to care about bigger search engines like Google, means to care about accurate information everywhere else also.
In summary, LSM takes control of inaccuracies about your business, helps you show up where you currently are not showing up at all, and adds details that help you to stand out and build up your brand.
Why is LSM Necessary?
If it’s still a little fuzzy as to why you need a central hub to manage this information, track with us. Here are some stats and examples that will bring the concept full circle. People are 5 times more likely to go to search engines like google, siri, alexa, facebook etc than to go directly to a website for information about a business. (It’s 10 times more likely in the restaurant industry). Think about your own search habits. Even if you have already decided what restaurant you are heading out to for dinner, if you want to call for a reservation, are you going to find their website for the phone number? Or simply ask Siri or type it into google? More likely than not, you’re going to the search engine for the answer, not the direct source of information.
Let’s use another example. Say you are a local nail salon owner. If a customer asks Alexa “Where is the nearest Nail Salon?”, are you going to be on Alexa’s list? If you are on there, is your information accurate? If you have ever been located at a different address or had a different number, even a call tracking number no longer in use, you especially risk improper information showing up, which is an automatic customer loss. How are you managing the information that shows up when search engines ask these questions?
LSM is necessary in order to have your information accessible to customers where they choose to look for it and for it to fully be accurate.
Added Perks to LSM
Did you know that listings are no longer just about a name, phone number, and address? Having a logo, photos, hours of operation, business description, etc will increase listing views over 400% and will help you show up in 347% more searches! LSM makes this possible and easy.
If cost is a concern for you, think about where the rest of your marketing budget goes. If you are spending anything at all on traditional media and you do not have control over your online information, you could be wasting thousands of dollars. As discussed in our blog about inbound vs outbound marketing, the goal of outbound media sources should be to drive customers back to your website. If I searched for you on my preferred platform after seeing an advertisement on TV and get the wrong information, your commercial did not effectively do its job. Remember people are more likely to search you on bing or other search engines after seeing an ad than going directly to your website. It’s a service less than $200 a month you can’t afford NOT to have!