More local customers than ever before now initiate their search for what they need locally online. As a result most local businesses consider online advertising and search engine marketing to be highly powerful. Google search result at local level is becoming more significant and this is linked to how little the Google algorithm triggering Local search results has changed over the past seven years. This fact has made local marketing more predictable therefore, more crowded, competitive and increasingly significant.
Yet despite Google’s consistency in the past, we can expect the importance of certain local factors to grow in 2014 so key suggested strategies are:
1. Creating Mobile Friendly Websites
Smartphone penetration reached 65 percent in 2013, up from 44 percent in 2011 and is expected to continue climbing in 2014. While some experts predicting that reach could be as high as 75 percent by the end of the year, it is safe to say that more people will access content with mobile devices than ever before. Businesses targeting to perform well in local and local-organic results should have sites that are friendly on mobile devices, preferably through responsive design.
2. Going Social
Having an active presence in social media is vitally important for today’s local businesses to connect with customers. At a minimum, make sure you have a Facebook business page, and consider other networking platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Biznik and MeetUp. Moreover with location-based or “check-in” services and applications, customers create a profile and sync up with friends by “checking in” when they visit a specific local business. Participating not only helps you get found, it’s a great way to reward customer loyalty. Look into Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places.
3. Fixing any Inaccuracies in Online Maps
The obvious risk with incorrect pin placements is the inability for customers to find a business when they access that business’ information from one of these sites on mobile devices, but just as important is the potential for a decrease in ranking for customers searching near a business location. Most local search marketers now know to make sure their address information is correct and consistent across the local ecosystem, but they should also make sure to check map markers on local sites like Yelp, Citysearch, and Google Maps.If an address is entered correctly, these sites should be able to generate the correct latitude and longitude for proper pin placement.
Unfortunately, business locations on these maps often appear incorrectly. Because the underlying mapping software for these sites sometimes comes up with the incorrect latitude and longitude, checking just the address is no longer adequate to maximize the opportunity these sites offer. Mobile search results often incorporate a searcher’s location into the ranking algorithm, so having incorrect latitude and longitude could mean that these sites think a business is further away from the searcher than it actually is and prevent that business from appearing in the search results.