A few years ago, when the worldwide recession was grabbing the headlines, the way search engines work changed in a way that handed independent retailers, or any business primarily selling local, a huge bonanza. Your company has either been taking advantage of what is known as the “localized search algorithm” phenomenon, or you have been losing out on a potentially game-changing business opportunity. The good news is it isn’t too late to get started. Here is how localized search algorithms work:
I’m writing this article near downtown Chicago, and if I googled, “Thai restaurant,” my search results would actually be quite distinct from those that I would get if I went into an Internet café on the city’s far north side. Similarly, if I googled (or did my search in Safari , Bing, Yahoo etc.) something like, “stationery” or “women’s clothing boutique,” or any similar retail item that your business might be selling, my search results will help me find you, if I was in close proximity. What this means is that in your location you have more than a fighting chance to be just as visible as a large chain or box store. Search engines are not doing this because they favor your type of business model; rather they want everyone searching to find exactly what they want with the least fuss and bother, placing the items you retail on the same level playing field (search-wise) as any other business in your location. (Note: This is good news for independent retailers on how localized search algorithms impact online marketing, but is not always great news for global companies in the B2B space.)
A To-Do List to Make Localized Search Algorithms Work for You
How can you make localized search algorithms REALLY work to your company’s advantage? Here’s a short to-do list:
1. Search engine optimization service plans must begin with getting your company listed EVERYWHERE. That will mean getting you listed with search engines that rate local companies too. Years ago that might have taken some time, and would have required some outside help. Today, there are services where you pay once and spend a limited amount of time to get listed everywhere in your location. Because such one-stop services exist, even if you are enlisting an outside search engine optimization consultant to help you, this involves minimal time and minimal cost.
2. Use very targeted AdWords tests in the locations you are trying to draw customers from, to ensure that your approach to web and design is really working, before you spend a lot of time and money on further website optimization efforts.
3. Make full use of ALL the free services that are out there to help you gain local visibility, such as Google Places.
Amy Munice is president of ALM Communications, now also d.b.a. Global B2B Communications, www.globalb2bcommunications.com and Web and Design Science, www.webanddesignscience.com.