As online marketing tools go, search engine optimization isn’t exactly a groundbreaking topic. Not only are there literally hundreds of books and seminars available on the subject, but many businesses rely on it as their main method of attracting new customers. So why is it, then, that SEO remains such an underused option amongst smaller companies that could use it most efficiently?
Because they think they don’t need it.
In dozens of consultations, I have met with business owners, marketing managers, and executives who listen to me talk about all the reasons they need to begin a search engine strategy, nod politely, and then change the subject. If pressed, they patiently explain search engine optimization might be great, but it isn’t for them – they don’t sell anything online, and all their customers are coming through the front door.
But really, that’s the ultimate case of missing the forest for the trees. Increasingly, searchers aren’t just going online to find the lowest prices for books, do their banking, and download music; these days, they’re also making Google, Yahoo, and Bing their first stops when it comes to finding local retailers to do business with.
Incorporating local search engine tactics into your marketing plan isn’t a strategy to get ahead anymore; it’s something you have to do just to stay in the game. Here are three things you should know about local SEO:
Local searches are becoming more popular. Not only are Internet connections available everywhere from coffee shops to public libraries, but the major search engines have spotted the potential and are competing with the Yellow Pages and other directories head on. With tools like Google maps, it only makes sense for shoppers to go online and get instant, specific, up-to-date information rather than digging through kitchen shelves to find last year’s printed volumes.
Ignoring Local SEO is probably costing you money. Even if you aren’t that concerned about losing existing customers – and you should be – consider this: you might not just be missing out on new business. Often, potential customers who have heard about your store or have driven by your location will look for you on line before they visit in person. It’s important that they be able to find you in search engines, especially if they can’t remember the name of your company.
Searchers make more profitable customers. One thing lots of marketers who aren’t used to finding customers online overlook is that, by doing the right kinds of search engine optimization, you can do a much better job of pinpointing your ideal customer than you could through other forms of advertising or promotion. Emphasizing the right key words and phrases doesn’t just bring you more web visitors – it brings you whatever kind you focus on.
Is your website ready? It has been possible, up until recently, for certain kinds of retail businesses to get by without a strong web or search engine presence. With the Internet taking an even larger share of people’s attention, however, not to mention the spread of iPhone’s, Droids, and other Internet-ready mobile devices, those days are behind us. If your business can’t be found on Google, Yahoo, and Bing, then the chances are good that in a few years no one is going to be able to it find anywhere else, either.
(Republished from our recent article in the St. Augustine Women’s Journal)