What is the first thing you do when you are looking to buy something today?
Yeah, I’d would do an internet search on my phone too.
According to a study out January 2011, over 56% of local searches – searches with local keywords in them – are done on smart phones. For local companies, being visible to potential local customers online has never been more important.
If you own or do marketing at a local SMB this blog post will give you some basic tips to help you to play nice in Google’s local search neighborhood. Tips Mister Rogers would approve of.
Do your homework: Today’s search results
Before you begin optimizing your reputation online do a quick search for your business along side local keywords you hope potential customers are typing in to find you locally. Do you show up in the local searches? What information is currently shown? How accurate is it? Are there PPC ads on the top and right side of the search bar? Is your business phone number displaying -and is it the correct number? Make notes and use them for quick references in the following steps.
Write your initials on your coat tag: Claiming your Google Places account
Has your Google Places account been verified? An unverified account will show up in searches, but will be clearly marked “unverified” in italics toward the bottom of the listing. If you haven’t claimed the business page do so now. Google makes the process extremely easy with the option to confirm your ownership by receiving a confirmation call or text.
A word of warning: unverified accounts are not safe, so it’s best to do this as soon as you’re able. Spammers “aka neighborhood bullies” can squat on Google Place pages that are not theirs – and might be squatting on your site. Bullies are never fun to deal with.
If you only have limited time to verify and update your place page be sure to at least include your website on the place page and in return find a good place on your website to link to your verified Google Places page…by connecting the two, you’ll boost your SEO ranking for both. (DOUBLE BONUS!)
Calling friends: Click-to-call AdWords extension
I am always sooo happy to find a click-to-call link in the paid search results in a local search on my phone. Click to call is easy – for searchers and you. All you need is a little time to activate this extension in your AdWords account.
The click to call extension ads one more line to the bottom of your ad with a blue click-able phone number. Searchers can easily click the phone number and connect directly to you. The click-to-call clicks are the same price as the bid price connected to the keyword in the ad displayed – so there’s no risk in giving this extension a try.
A few words of advice before setting this up: Make sure you can handle increased call volume. For example: if you don’t have set office hours, this may not be the best fit. Frustrated potential customers, unfamiliar with how you run things, may lead to poor reviews – and poor reviews are not good for your reputation on the block.
Check out Google’s quick and helpful video with step by step instructions to add a phone number to mobile PPC searches and finding the metrics to justify this service.
Hometown pride: Geo-targeting your campaign
Setting up geo-targeting on your campaign is a great money saving tip. Pay only for ads you know potential customers within an x-mile radius of you are seeing. Don’t pay for clicks from people 3 states away.
Example: If you are offer lasik to the Denver area, you need only show your ads to maybe 50 mile radius around the metro area. You can take this even further by setting up relevant local ad groups for each major suburb, like a Boulder ad group for example.
Creating a Boulder ad group with click to call extension activated, Boulder relevant ad copy and your best performing keywords with Boulder in the phrases. “Serving Boulder and Denver Metro” will catch a searchers eye and hopefully allow them trust your company is local.
Regionally targeted ad groups: If you’ll be targeting a campaign across the country – break your campaign up to represent regions. In ad copy and landing pages, remember each area has different everyday norms. For example, a person in New York City might have different pain points than a person in Phoenix. By aligning campaign messaging, your searchers will know they’re in the right place.
It’s such a good feeling…
So go forth, become part of your neighborhood hanging out online and remember – be yourself, because there is no one else like you and you are special…at least that is what Mr. Rogers always told me and I believe it.