Local Small Businesses and the Search Engines – Geo-Targeting

“If you, as a local business person, choose to ignore the trend, you’ll miss a window of opportunity which will remain open only until all your competitors have jumped on the band-wagon, and the playing field is level again. Until that happens — as it will — you have the chance to get ahead of the rest, and establish yourself at the top. It’ll be harder later!”

Geo-Targeting – What’s that?

Something every local business operator should know!

More and more people nowadays are using Web search engines to find and compare local shops and businesses for their goods and services, and those local small businesses which are unaware of or ignore this fact are suffering an ever-increasing disadvantage.

Many people see little or no use for a local or regional business to have a Web site to promote their goods or services. After all, the Internet is a global thing, right? Wrong! There are several ways to promote a Web site locally or regionally, so that it brings in a disproportionately large volume of local traffic. Any business owner not using a Web site to promote a local or regional business is making a huge mistake, and ultimately leaving money on the table.

The factors now encapsulated in the field of search engine optimisation (SEO) are varied yet simple. Time and time again, however, Web site owners fail to see some of the most recent naturally occurring ‘common-sense principles’ behind an effective and successful SEO strategy. This article brings to light the most recent important change in SEO: Geo-Targeting…

The trend…

The increase in on-line purchasing generally has led to more consumers using the Web to look for goods and services in their local area. For many obvious reasons they prefer to deal with a local business than one far away.

If customers are looking to buy jewellery, and they are located in Essex, England, it is very common for them nowadays to append “Essex” to their search, or even “Southend”, if that’s the town where they live. So, instead of looking simply for “jewellery” they will search for “jewellery Essex”, “jewellery Southend”, or a similar variation of this.

“Local Search — using Internet search engines and on-line business directories to find local traders — is growing at an extraordinary pace. Figures in the US, comparable to the UK, show that 63 percent of all on-line users performed a local search in July 2006. This is a 43 percent increase year on year. On-line local searches do lead to customer action. The same study showed that 50 percent of all local searchers visited a local merchant as a result of their search behaviour, while 41 percent made contact off-line.” (Source: comScore networksmarketwire.com)

When it comes to consumers making a purchase, local search has more of an impact than national search. At the Search Engine Strategies Conference & Expo, held in London in 2007, John Myers of Latitude said that users are 30 percent more likely to purchase a product or service when it is related to local search. Speaker Grant Muckle from Touch Local said that 40 percent of all on-line searches are local in the UK.

The cycle…

These statistics are nothing less than phenomenal. At LocalShoppers.co.uk we think that the “art of shopping” is reaching a full cycle, but on another level. Before the Web, consumers bought locally, unless there was a good reason not to. The reasons are obvious: the travel time and expense saved by buying locally at, perhaps, even a higher price than in the next town compensated for the lower price there; likewise if the goods had to be returned for any reason, or the merchant had to supply spare parts, etc., etc.

With the advent of Web sites, consumers slowly but surely came to trust the technology, and now order goods from all over the world. Astute merchants, however, are beginning to realise that traditional shopping principles still apply. After all, they’ve hardly changed for millennia, and are entrenched in our psyche. It is these astute merchants, often small businesses and even ‘one-man bands’, who are jumping on the Internet band-wagon, and, knowingly or unwittingly, are driving the trend full circle towards shopping locally, merely by having a presence on the Web.

The future…

This is not to say that global shopping has had its day. On the contrary, it will continue to grow, but, now that the initial euphoria of being able to buy anything from anywhere is subsiding with blasé acceptance, people are coming back down to earth, and the in-bred habits of shopping locally are resurfacing. The big difference is that consumers will continue to use the Web as a tool, simply because it is there, just as they did after the advent of the telephone.

Indeed, the telephone can be seen easily as a direct precedent. It appeared first in only a few homes, and was a luxury. Then, as it became cheaper, it became more popular. Nowadays the telephone is an integral part of almost everyone’s life, and people use it to order goods and services quite naturally. Even schoolkids regard a telephone as a necessity! Now think about the on-line computer: Sound familiar? History is repeating itself.

An on-line computer has, of course, several advantages over the telephone: You can see what you’re buying; You can look for what you want at any time of the day or night; You can get far more information about the product or service, and about the merchant; You don’t need actually to talk to anyone; There’s a visible record of the offers being made, thus avoiding misunderstandings; etc. An important benefit of the on-line computer over the telephone is that comparison shopping is now so much easier and quicker. It’s human nature to want the best deal, and people are finding it on the Web. What better opportunity, then, is there for local businesses to display their wares than the one now presenting itself?

The local merchants and tradespeople who grasp the significance of the Web quickly, and take action to be a part of it, will be the ones who will be ahead of the game, and will already have an established presence by the time their slower competitors realise that they must follow them.

The opportunity…

Customers looking for goods or services are becoming more savvy. They now know that, if they search for “magnotherapy”, for example, they’ll get almost 100,000 results to choose from. If they type “magnotherapy essex”, however, they’ll get fewer than 1,000. That’s still a lot. If they enter their town in the search, like “magnotherapy canvey”, only about 100 results are returned. The more local the search phrase is, the fewer are the results.

Because consumers naturally feel more comfortable dealing with a local supplier, and they now understand how search engines work, it explains why more and more of them are performing such local searches.

If you, as a local business person, choose to ignore the trend, you’ll miss a window of opportunity which will remain open only until all your competitors have jumped on the band-wagon, and the playing field is level again.

Until that happens — as it will — you have the chance to get ahead of the rest, and establish yourself at the top. It’ll be harder later!

3 Benefits of Hiring a Small Business Social Media Manager – Bottom Line, More Leads!

As a small business owner, it is important to establish an online presence to connect with the online consumer. This is what social media marketing is all about. Social media is a revolution as far as business interactions are concerned. In today’s world, brands are built and torn apart on social platforms. Because of this, you would do well as a business owner to make sure you use the available platforms to grow your brand and your reputation. Unless you fall in the lesser percentage, it is very likely that you are one of those business owners who can’t keep up with technology and media advancements.

Yes, you may know how to transform an idea into a million bucks but you don’t know the first thing about LinkedIn or Twitter. How do you make use of social marketing when you are lacking in expertise in the said field? Simple, hire a social media manager.

A social media manager is a professional who is skilled in taking care of the communication and marketing aspects of your business. In basic terms, this is the person who gets in touch with the consumer on your behalf on the social platforms. There are various reasons why hiring a small business social media manager is a good idea.

In this article we will outline 3 reasons;

1. Social marketing platforms are constantly changing. What may have worked last year will not necessarily work this year, even last month. As a business owner, you may not have the time, energy or knowledge to keep up with changing trends. Because they do change often! It is the job of the SM manager to keep up with these trends for the sake of your business.

Remember, if you ignore current trends you run the risk of being irrelevant and losing your clients/customers to your competitors. If there’s one thing that’s certain about the online consumer, it’s their erratic and impatient nature. They are not willing to waste too much time on a brand that does not seem to care about its online image and presence.

2. As a business owner, you may already know how important it is to have an online presence. You have definitely heard this before. However, you may not know how to get the right audience for your brand.

For instance, if you sell products targeted at older people, you want to make sure that you reach out to them and not anyone else. It is one thing to have an audience and it is another to have the right audience. Your social media manager will help you identify avenues that will lead your brand to the right audience.

3. SM managers are also able to monitor the progress made through digital campaigns. If you embark on a marketing campaign, it is important to track any milestones reached by the campaign. Otherwise, you run the risk of investing too much in a campaign that yields nothing. The best person to keep tabs on the digital campaign is your SM manager. They will also recommend new ways to do things if the current methods are not achieving the intended goals.

Instead of worrying that you don’t know how to take advantage of social media, hire someone who does and watch your business grow.

Game Changing Business Trends for 2013

We have compiled a list of game-changing trends that will have a profound impact on the way we conduct business now and in the future. Our list makes recommendations on how to define your marketing and sales strategy for the near future. The underlying trend is concentrated around the principle of cautious spending habits, new and exciting marketing demographics, and a new value proposition.

Baby Boomers: Just when you thought you heard the last of the baby boomers, they’re back. This 76 million strong demographic represents over 30% of the adult population base (the people who are spending money). This demographic has a lot of power, you need to seriously consider a strong marketing strategy pointed towards this group.

Social Shopping and Networking: Research studies show that nearly half of all Americans are member of a social network and this group is spending money from online sources at an alarming rate, ecommerce has gone social. Marketing to this group of people through the paid advertising medium will prove to be very beneficial for your company when 2-3 years ago it really had no impact.

Home Improvement Expenditures: The recession has forced consumers to spend more time in their homes and they have also postponed their home improvement projects while conserving money. Unfinished and pent-up remodeling projects will blossom in the next 2-3 years, especially given the fact that most consumers are going to stay put rather than buy up even if they need more space.

Health Care: According to the US Census Bureau, 10 of the 20 fastest growing occupations are health care related. This industry will generate 3.2 million jobs in the next 5 years. This is an occupation with high income and an important group when defining your marketing strategy.

The Green Revolution: Sustainable profitability is the process of converting your business to a green model. Consumers favor business owners that employ the green revolution and if this applies to your business, use this as a marketing strategy to attract more customers. For example, something as simple as installing LED lighting in your business can increase traffic flow – bottom line – let your customers know!

Affordable Luxury: The recent recession has created a more selective and intelligent consumer. Retailers and manufacturers alike are hungry for new markets and consumer satisfaction; the savvy ones have created a blend of luxury and value within their respective product lines. “Bridge lines” are the new buzz word; these are lower tiered collections with the same quality characteristics at a fraction of the price.

The New Male: Over the course of the recession, the guy dominant industries were hit pretty hard making marketers think long and hard on how to appeal to this demographic. The intelligent choice is that the guys want to embrace things that reflect more diverse interests. Steak houses are out and boutique shave cream is in.

Fitness on Demand: Much has been written about the impressive stats in the fitness industry and health club phenomenon. Gym memberships increased steadily throughout the recession, and fitness clubs are turning up everywhere. As people continue to spend cautiously and time management is the utmost concern, working out at home has become a popular alternative.

Small Business Stimulation: The recession has paved the way for many new concepts and ideas. Consumers will avoid doing business with large companies at any cost and you will see a consumer migration to small business.