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Keys to effective local search marketing to stay relevant

September 15, 1997 holds special significance for many organizations, as this was the date the largest search engine launched. Businesses in particular took great advantage by building B2B marketing campaigns centered around search engine optimization to promote their brands.

What exactly did Google  do to help the business world? Simply put, it helped companies get discovered. Google leveled the playing field for businesses all over the world with an equal opportunity to gain exposure. Over the years, however, a new trend has emerged. Businesses now need to shift their focus back to local search marketing to maximize the full potential of SEO.

Basics of local search
Local search marketing helps businesses show up on geographic searches for specific phrases. For example, a local search can be crafted as, "Phoenix plumbers." This is a local search because the user is specifically looking for a service in a set area. Businesses must ensure they can be found within close proximity and stay relevant, especially as the number of mobile searches continues to grow. In fact, more than 50 percent of online searches for local businesses are conducted on a mobile device (1). 

Yet, some organizations have difficulty implementing local search, according to a 2014 study from SIM Partners. Findings revealed difficulty stems from a hesitance to embrace local because of support issues and limited resources and experience (2).

Businesses cannot afford to wait any longer when it comes to local search marketing. Luckily, there are a few ways to improve a company's local strategy.

Understand Google Pigeon
Whenever Google announces a change to its search engine, it is best to pay attention. Such was the case when the search giant updated its local search algorithm during July 2014. That algorithm update – the largest in Google's history – placed a heavier emphasis on local listings during a search query. For webmasters and marketers, this meant the algorithm specifically took distance and location into account. According to Search Engine Land, the update also produced better results for Google Maps searches (3).

Develop localized content
One of the biggest mistakes a business can make, especially if it has multiple locations, is to not create content for local markets (4). Businesses will want to develop pages for all the major search engines as well, including Bing, and Yahoo. Next, businesses will want to provide accurate NAP information, short for name, address and phone number (5). Small businesses are especially vulnerable to listing the wrong information, which can hamper an effective B2B marketing campaign. According to a local search ranking factor survey of 2014 from Moz the top negative ranking factor was "listing detected at false business location" (6). This information reveals small businesses often have discrepancies between contact information. For example, the phone number listed on Google may differ from the number listed on the business's website. Faulty information can prevent  prevent organizations from showing up in search engines.

Larger businesses with multiple locations will want to create individual landing pages for each location to maintain strong visibility in local searches. This may also include examining current keywords and changing them to better reflect local areas. For example, a business may want to incorporate the nearby neighborhood as a keyword. This will drive up traffic for searches containing that keyword. However, this does not mean a new strategy should incorporate keyword stuffing – far from it, in fact. The method may have been popular in the early 2000s, but search engines and users have gotten smarter. Instead, effective B2B marketing incorporates well-thought-out keywords that are relevant and effective.

Local content should also be posted throughout various social media channels, including LinkedIn and Twitter.

Encourage feedback
While search engines take into account many under-the-hood factors, what truly matters is public perception . Businesses are more inclined to interact with organizations that have numerous positive reviews. Feedback is often visible during searches and is one of the first pieces of information that pops up. Feedback should be encouraged on Google and other review services (7).

There are also a few important steps to implement to ensure reviews are not cherry-picked or come off as staged. For example, enterprises should encourage all internal departments to solicit genuine reviews from business clients. Ultimately, the more reviews, the better, even if there are some negative remarks. This does not mean fake reviews will be written, because if caught, search rankings will be negatively impacted.

Reviews also tie into transparency, a huge topic virtually everywhere. A B2B marketing strategy that embraces transparency will bring in better results. Small businesses will likely have fewer issues with transparency. More likely than not, they are already openly sharing information and details. This is a key area of a business's online marketing strategy as is relying on feedback to gain more visibility. 

Local search marketing is an important aspect of online marketing and will only continue to grow. 

(1). Be local

(2). Multi-Location Brands Struggle with Implementing Local Search According to New Independent Research

(3). Everything You Need To Know About Google's Local Algorithm, Pigeon

(4). 4 Terrifying Local Search Marketing & SEO Mistakes

(5). 5 Things Most People Forget About Local SEO

(6). The 2014 Local Search Ranking Factors

(7). Why B2B Marketers Should Welcome Online Reviews

Sheila Kloefkorn

With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.