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Advertising and Local Search

  |  July 2, 2009   |  Comments

What can you do to get people to shop at your business? Consider these approaches to stretch your range.

For many businesses offering services or products, all search is local search. These businesses draw customers from a specific geographic area. Anyone outside of that sphere are unlikely to ever buy anything from these businesses.

When consumers who live or work near a business have the potential to become customers, advertising dollars are best spent communicating with only these people. Location can be used to segment, prequalify, and help to target potential customers as well as avoid wasting ad dollars trying to reach people who are not good prospects for your business.

Know Your Range

The definition of nearby, though, is different for different niches. For example, people may travel farther to:

  • Go to an IMAX film than a movie at a regular theater.

  • Buy a gourmet meal than fast food.

  • Buy a custom-made suit than for an off-the-rack sports coat.

  • Buy a wedding ring than a nose ring.

  • See a medical specialist than a general practitioner.

People in rural areas will typically travel farther for goods and services that those in urban areas. Although this is usually from necessity, rather than from choice, it is what they are accustomed to and what they have come to expect.

Considering your niche, your location, and the types of products and services you offer, what is the range for your business?

Stretch Your Range

Now, think about what you have or do that may entice people to travel farther to come to you. Here are some examples of things that can be effective. People will travel farther for something if it's:

  • Unique or rare.

  • A good price or good value.

  • Variety and selection.

  • Quicker gratification.

  • The best.

Consider stretching your range. What can you do to get people to travel farther and shop at your business?

Advertise Where the Fish Are

Advertising can help you stretch your range by communicating these benefits to prospects. Local-based advertising allows you to target your best prospects. When local search is so fragmented, how to you know where to advertise? The answer is fairly simple: Advertise where people are looking for the goods and services you offer. In other words, fish where the fish are, which can depend on your location.

For example, Yelp is a powerhouse Web site for local businesses in northern California. Kudzu is a good bet for the Atlanta area and Citysearch and Superpages are good places to advertise if you are selling in Denver.

The best prospects for advertising can also depend on your business type. Those in the travel niche should be in TripAdvisor, if they can afford it. Restaurants are well served by Zagat. SuperLawyers.com is a good spot for attorneys and contractors belong on ServiceMagic.

Where you choose to advertise can also depend on the type of customer you are trying to attract. Seniors, for example, tend to use the online yellow pages more than some other age groups. Craigslist is a magnet for bargain hunters and those thirsty for local news are very likely to be regulars at Topix.

Where are the customers you wish to attract most likely to be searching for your products and services?

Fish on Google

Reality is, no matter where else people search online, most people search on Google for everything, including local business information. AdWords ads appear on nearly every Google search results page. You can also set up local business ads that run within Google Maps and on some other sites that use Google Maps technology.

You may choose to show your Google ads only to people within an area you specify and/or you may bid on terms with geo-modifiers for areas within your range. In either case, the ads will appear in front of searchers looking for your goods or services within the area from which you have a reasonable expectation of drawing customers.

The key to local advertising is to find out where the people within range of your business are searching for what you sell. Then, advertise to them!

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Mary Bowling

Mary Bowling has been involved in all aspects of online marketing since 2003. She has a special interest in Web site usability and in search engine optimization, including optimizing all types of media for search engines. Mary has also developed specialized expertise in promoting brick-and-mortar businesses on the Internet through local search marketing. She is currently doing independent consulting and working with seOverflow and Maia Internet Consulting in Denver, CO, optimizing and marketing a wide variety of businesses and nonprofits online.

Her accomplishments include speaking at Search Marketing Expo and Search Engine Strategies conferences on a variety of topics, conducting trainings and webinars for Search Engine Strategies and Search Engine Workshops, authoring popular white papers on local search and SEO for WordPress Blogs and speaking at SEMpx' s Searchfest.

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