FAQ – Local Search For Local Searchers
Q: What is local search?
A: An Internet search to find information in a local geographic area about a business, product, or service. Local searchers seek product, service and local business information, driving directions, price comparisons, reviews, menus, etc. A majority of these searches result in offline, in person visits, or purchases as opposed to online transactions (called online to offline conversions).
Q: Where are local searches performed?
Most local searches occur at the major search engines – Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Ask – which each have local sections usually called Maps (Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, Bing Maps & Ask City). Local searches are also conducted at Internet yellow page directories, dedicated local search engines/directories, and local business consumer review websites.
Local search results from the major search engines usually appear on the first page of the main results next to a colorful map with visual pins indicating locations of up to 10 top local listings (called the OneBox).
Local results also appear in Google Maps and Google Earth (often dramatically). If you’ve downloaded Google Earth software (or any other satellite imaging) you can see extraordinary birds-eye views of our planet and local businesses as well. The other search engines present local results in a similar way.
Major search engines now incorporate local results as well as many forms of content (video, image, news, blog, etc) into their main page, called Universal Search. They now appear with natural, or organic, results and no longer limited to Google’s topic specific search engines.
This has created an opportunity for local businesses to gain more visibility in the organic results for their local directory listings, images, videos and other types of content. Local businesses can now be seen alongside bigger companies with larger marketing budgets provided they know how.
Q: How does a search engine know when to show local results?
A: Until recently, search terms required a city and state or a zip code to be seen on the main page. Recently, Google started displaying local search results without a city, state, or zip code if the search term looked local (dentist, chinese restaurant, carpenter, etc). It’s been estimated that local results now appear as many as 61 times more often.
Q: Why is local search engine popularity growing so quickly?
A: More information better organized more conveniently although basic name, address, phone, fax, email, hours of operation, products, services, etc. is the same. The differences are significant: maps with door-to-door driving directions, updatable images of locations, neighborhoods and satellite views, videos, simple clickable contact by phone, email or to website and more. Summary:
- In-depth product/service info
- Interactive maps
- Hours of operation
- Specialties with room for details
- Customer reviews
- Photos and videos
- And more
Q: How often do people use local search?
A: Local search is the very latest hyper growth area on the Internet despite the current economy. Local search grew 58% in 2008, reaching an annual total of 15.7 billion searches. That’s nearly 12% of searches on the top five internet search portals.
The explosive growth in local search allows local business, small business, and especially the new business to find the largest audience of prospective buyers at the very lowest cost with local internet result pages.
IF YOU LOVE DATA READ ON: A recent research study on local search by WebVisible and Nielsen’s of 4,000 U.S. Internet users and 261 small and medium sized businesses found:
Consumers use internet search engines 72% more than two years ago.
- Search is the #1 choice of general consumers and small business owners alike when looking for a local product or service.
- 63% of consumers turn to the Internet first when looking for local products or services.
Consumers most commonly used search tools were:
- Search engines, 82%
- Yellow Pages directories, 57%
- Local newspapers, 53%
- Internet Yellow Pages (such as Yellowpages.com or Superpages.com), 49%
- Television, 49%
- Direct mail, 38%
- White Pages directories, 32%
In terms of sources turned to first among users, 50% choose search engines versus 24% who choose Yellow Pages.
- 92% of respondents are happy with the results they get when using search engines, although 39% report frequently not being able to find a particular known business.
- 52% say they regularly use the Internet to research, then purchase offline from a local business. Only 1% say they have never done this.
- 41% use local internet “geographic modifiers” with search engines.
FAQ – Local Search for Business
(Please disregard some tongue in cheek)
Q: Why should my business get involved with local search marketing (after all it looks complicated, unfamiliar, might be expensive, not a comfort zone, I lose at video games, etc…)?
A: Your audience has migrated or are using the Internet for local businesses at an accelerating pace and spending lots of money.
Q: Maybe I should wait until it proves itself more before I take the leap?
A: Delaying participation in the Internet takeover of local consumer buying will cost you money plus delay your learning curve.
Q: I already have an ad in the print Yellow Pages; do I still need to market online? Why should my business act now (between you and I, I’ve mastered time travel so I’ll be able to bring myself back to this decisive moment next year or whenever I decide)?
A: More potential customers search online to buy local products or services than use the print Yellow Pages. Also many more buyers use local search than there are competitors who advertise online. (Absent time travel, the time is now, at the latest.)
Q: What types of businesses would profit most jumping into local online marketing?
A: Some business types that stand to gain the most from local Internet advertising include (but not limited to):
Local businesses wanting new customer traffic;
Franchisees seeking low cost effective media;
New businesses on a budget; and
Home-based businesses seeking ‘brick and mortar’ credibility.
Q: When I search under my name, my business is listed first in Google. What more do I need?
A: Many more prospects search your type of business (“Italian restaurant”) vs. your business name (“Rocco Italian Restaurant”). Try it out. Search the way your prospects search.
Q: If my business is already listed in some/all of the local search and Internet yellow pages, what more can I do?
A: If your business is not on page one of the major local search engines, you should star there. 90% of searchers don’t look further. Then consider pay-per and social media.
Q: What types of local online directories will buyers see my business?
A: Some examples where buyers can find your listings:
Search engines – Google, Yahoo!, Bing, Ask
Internet yellow pages – Superpages, Switchboard
Mobile devices -cell phones, PDA browsers
GPS devices – Magellan, OnStar
Online directories and databases – InfoUSA, Localeze.com
Q: What are the most effective ways to take advantage of local customer migration from print yellow pages to online searching?
A: Each business type and location must consider where and how to be seen by its most qualified prospects with the best return on investment.
Q: What do you recommend as the best way to do local search marketing the right way (best leverage, lowest risk, highest return on investment?)
A: We recommend in this order:
#1 Page One search optimized local directory listings in every major search engine
#2 Listings with current information in all the major directories including Internet yellow
pages, local website portals, consumer review websites, 411, and GPS directories, etc.
#3 Pay-per-click starting with Google’s Adwords
#4 Social media including Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Q: What is search engine optimization (SEO) and how does that compare with local SEO?
A: SEO is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” (”organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. The earlier a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine.
Local search SEO is a specific type of search engine optimization and is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from local search engines. Local SEO may refer to the process of local business website optimization and/or the process of ranking higher on local search engines.
Q: What is pay-per-click advertising?
A: Pay-per-click (PPC) is an Internet advertising model where advertisers pay when their ad is clicked. Advertisers on search engines bid on keyword phrases relevant to their target market. Content sites commonly charge a fixed price per click.
Q: How does keyword research work on local search?
A: The search for keywords related to your Web site so searchers may find you plus the analysis of which ones yield the highest return on investment (ROI). Keyword research consists of at least three major steps: (1) discovery – finding as many keywords as possible relating to your Web site. (2) ROI analysis – finding the most valuable ones (3) competitive analysis – analyzing the strength of competitors for potential keywords. .
Q: So how do I best get started?
A: Assuming your goals are: making the highest return on investment AND if you’re not on Page One of major local search engines then we recommend Page One local directory listings in Google, Yahoo and Bing since more than 90% of prospects stop at page one results and don’t go further. (LINK TO PAGE ONE SERVICES)
FAQ – Local Search Optimization
Q: How can LocalInternetUSA.com help me get local customers on local search engines?
A: We provide Guaranteed Page One Local Listings, Pay Per Click campaigns that complement and not duplicate the Page One listings (big savings there), and custom social media programs
If your business is not on Page One then we recommend you start with Guaranteed Page One Local Listings, then Pay Per Click and social media marketing.
Q: How does your Page One service work?
A: We develop your online business profile at an affordable price so it complies with local search guidelines so you will be found on Page One Onebox results which do not incur click fees.
At the same time we present your company so prospects may find your business using search terms (not your business name – many more know what they want not knowing your name) Anyone not on page one will not be found 90+% of the time. Then persuasive copy which has just 5 or 6 seconds to work its magic before your prospect moves on.
Q: Does my Local Search Optimization service provider need to be local to me?
A: No. We work with businesses across the U.S.
Q: How do you do this?
A: Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your listing placement to improve the quantity and quality of traffic to from local search engines.
Q: What techniques do you use for local search optimization?
A: Organizing complete business information in full compliance with Google, Yahoo, Bing local search engine requirements. It includes: selecting your best converting search categories; an award-winning 200 character limited business description written for search engines and people; legal name protection for top listings; search optimized images findable by image search engines; videos, etc.
Q: So what do I do first?
A: What works best and fastest as a return on your investment is our Guaranteed Page One Local Search Optimization. This is the very best way to generate the most traffic and prospects if your business is not listed on the first page of the local search results right now.
The value of Page One listings in Google Maps has dramatically improved because now Google shows top 10 local listings on its main page WITH OR WITHOUT a city and state or a zip code for local types of searches (restaurants, doctors, lawyers, etc.).
Q: Do you guarantee Page One listings?
A: Yes. You will get your money back if your business is not in the Page One listings no later than 90 days (usually much sooner).
Q: What is the economic value of a Page One on the big local search engines?
A: Our clients get seen as many as 6,000+ page views monthly and 600+ directory/website visits, map direction and phone calls. Read one typical Case Study (link).Pay-per-click savings for this client is currently about $7,000 year. The new business economic value is a very high Return on Investment (ROI).
Q: Can you compare the difference in cost and results between a Page One Google Maps listing and my present advertising in print media?
A: Some of our clients get the same number of qualified prospects for the one time cost of Page One Optimization as local glossy magazines displaying ‘modern furniture’ or ‘marble and tile’ get in one year at 12 times the display ads.
Q: Do I need a website?
A: No. It’s not required, but it helps. Well optimized directory listings often look as good as most websites, sometimes more persuasive and complete.
Q: How does Page One Local Search Listings differ from a full page in the Yellow Pages?
A: Yellow Pages are static with a large monthly cost whether or not your traffic makes a profit or makes a declining profit due to lower consumer usage. Page One Listings have a one time fee to prepare your business data, images, video, creative writing, etc. The ROI (return on investment) for most Page One Listings is usually much higher.
Q: Can I do it myself?
A: Yes, provided you can do your own keyword research, write persuasive ad copy, know the technical side to tag images, and know Google’s and other local search engine guidelines. Requirements to do it right can be highly technical.
Q: What are the steps to obtain Page One rankings?
A: You complete a comprehensive Fact Finder; review our keyword research; answer our many first draft comments and questions; review our 200 character limit Business Description and other recommendations.
We then manually submit to each search engine and await activation PIN numbers from several of the major search engines. We then monitor and tweak the results to get your business to Page One.
Q: What is the verification process?
A: Google verifies either by phone or postcard taking a couple of weeks. Bing verifies by postcard only taking a month or more.
Q: What does a Google or Bing postcard look like?
A: Like junk mail, so don’t accidentally throw it out since it contains the PIN needed to activate your listing. If thrown out we must start the activation process again.
Q: How long does it take for my listing to be visible on local search engines?
A: Some are immediate. Others can take up to 60 days. Each directory is different.
Q: Once my business is listed on Page One how long will it last?
A: Local search engines have been less subject to change than the regular search engines.
Most of our clients have had the same top position for years. Maintenance plans are available.
Q: Can I make changes after I’m listed?
Q: How will I know exactly what you did for me?
A: Upon completion, you receive Client Service Report with screenshots for listings, user names and passwords to access listings which includes access Google’s new local statistics dashboard.
Q: How do I know how many new customers I’m getting (online to offline conversions)?
A: Google makes it easy with a detailed statistics dashboard. Further statistics are available from your website hosting. Tracking data for online sales is easy when actions take place online. Tracking offline sales started on the Internet are less reliable. They could be obtained with better accuracy using coupons, a dedicated phone line or querying new customers.
Q: How do I get my customers to leave me reviews and give me stars?
A: We provide guidance for generating consumer reviews.
Q: How will I benefit by working with Local Internet USA?
A: After our initial assignment is completed, we remain available to clients for consultations or additional services. We pride ourselves on lasting business relationships with clients over the years and prompt, respectful services.
Q: Who is Local Internet USA?
A: A trade name for Practical Growth, Inc. with 30+ years serving independent business and entrepreneurs. Since 2000, the company has offered Internet marketing services to independently owned businesses. Services have included pay-per-click advertising (as a Google Certified Professional), search engine optimization specializing in local search, and domain names.
Q: How big is your staff?
A: A dozen local search professionals, web designers, programmers, copywriters, and creative marketing mavens with years of experience obtaining top placements for the major search engines.
Q: Is my information safe with you?
Q: Am I paying too much or too little?
A: Probably too little as local search returns have been unusually generous to our clients. Our Page One fee is based on a one-time, per-location rate with a sliding scale for bulk submissions of multiple locations. Contact us for a custom quote for your business.
Q: What do your competitors and charge?
A: True competitors providing the same service charge much more. Some of our leading competitors charge a fee averaging $100 a month forever. The moment you stop paying your listing is removed. Some charge much more in advance. Others charge less but rarely provide results.