How to use local business marketing even if you’re not ‘local’

google-places-local-business-listingLocal business marketing is one of the hottest topics in internet marketing today.  

While it’s easiest implemented for bricks and mortar businesses who have a single location, with some careful planning and implementation and leveraging of local business directories, it can work just as well for multi location businesses or businesses that serve a national or global market.

The trickiest thing about this type of marketing is remaining consistent across the board in all your web presences and staying on the right side of Google’s many regulations. http://google.com

The guiding principal behind effective marketing – as discussed in our post on branding, is to disseminate a clear and consistent message in all instances.  This is not a new concept.  It’s the basis on which all traditional marketing and public relations operates.  But, it goes a lot deeper than the visual aspects of corporate logos and colors.  It even goes deeper than the company slogan and mission statement.

Assessing the accuracy of all instances of your web presence already in use for local marketing:

Focused Lead Generation local business marketingIf you’re engaging in any kind of internet marketing then you need to first assess all instances where you have a presence online because this factors into your visibility and credibility in a big way.  This is not as easy as it sounds as often these instances can be quite obscure.  A directory listing you created 5 years ago in a directory that you’ve never visited since and for which you have no have no record or recollection of your log in details can quite easily de-rail your best efforts today.

To do a full assessment of your web presence and round up all these instances, please contact us – we have proprietary systems that can take care of this and we are local business marketing consultants.

Once you have a list of all the instances, you then have to ensure that they’re all up to date and every single detail is the same across the board.  This can also be quite a challenge given that each of the hundreds of places where you can find your business listed may have different criteria in listing set up making it exceedingly difficult to ensure uniformity.Local business marketing for mobile

Nevertheless, this is crucial.

Google+ or Google Places?

First they were known as ‘Maps’… then ‘Places’… then Google+ Local Business Listings.  To make it even more confusing, at least 2 of these entities are still running concurrently.  Duplicating your listing in both can lead to the listing simply not showing up at all.

If you’re like most people, by now, you’re wondering why you should bother with all this? It sounds like a royal pain in the you-know-what.

Although that’s true (it is!) it’s also the absolute BEST and most cost-effective way of online lead generation available to business today.  Your entire online presence including all citations, all web sites including regular corporate, blogs and mobile, as well as all social elements are taken together by Google to determine your online authority which determines your online visibility.

And Google+ local business listings, or Google Places, is Google’s ‘showcase’ for your business.  Getting in the coveted ‘7 pack’ on page 1 of Google with a fully optimized and sales ready Google ‘site’ or listing provides an absolutely HUGE boost to your sales – and you’ll find your phones ringing with pre-sold, pre-qualified leads daily. It’s by far, one of the best local business marketing ideas available today.

This is the crux of your local business marketing strategy.

online marketing for local businessesThe only problem is that there are a ton of restrictions on exactly how you can use this listing and very, very few people actually understand the do’s and don’ts of optimization of it.  Incorrectly setting up or optimizing can spell disaster for your small business marketing.

Here are some of the most common mistakes people make with their listing:

  • duplicate listings: if you or someone else has set up a listing and then later forgot about it, or forgot the password, and set up another, that’s a duplicate.  If Google has already assigned you a listing and you set up another, that’s a duplicate.  If you had a Places listing and now set up a Google+ listing, that’s also a duplicate… and duplicates can mean that NONE of your listings will ever feature in the search results until all duplicates are resolved. This is one time when more is not better with regards to your local business advertising! Google says that it is working on merging listings but this could take a while – and in the meantime you’re losing business.
  • inaccuracies or inconsistencies in information input – Google has a very particular way they like your contact information to be listed.  If you do it differently, you can cause your listing to never rank.  For instance listing a phone number as 555 555 5555  or 555.555.5555 instead of (555) 555 5555 or an address as 123-7698 Anywhere Street instead of 7698 Anywhere Street Suite 123.  (BTW these are theoretical not necessarily reflective of exactly what Google is currently specifying.)
  • inaccuracies or inconsistencies in other information about your company in other places online: Google checks out ALL instances online, whether they’re visible to you or not in order to determine if your listing is in fact authentic.
  • making up your own categories at random and having these conflict with other citations
  • keyword stuffing or failure to use keywords properly
  • lack of properly optimized images, videos etc
There are many more details where you can inadvertently mess up, but the above mentioned are probably the most common we’ve seen made by those trying to boost their local marketing using Google Places, Maps or Local Listings.
If you’d like to do an assessment yourself and see how your Google listing is fairing and how your web presence in general is working for you, you can go here: http://focusedleadgeneration.com/local/ to access a free analysis which will give you some insights, including which of your competitors is getting more business online than you are.  It’s quick and easy.  All you need is your registered business phone number and your email to allow the system to produce the analysis.  This analysis makes it pretty clear where you are ranking and why – and where you are not and why.  The competitive insights alone are well worth the few minutes you invest in looking this over.
What do you do if you have multiple locations and / or a national or global market?
google + local business listingThe first thing you need to do is step back and assess what you need to achieve.  If you want to drive national or local traffic to your web presence then you might want to adopt a slightly different approach to what you’d need to develop local traffic to each of your multiple locations.
Your Google + Local Listings:
Multiple local locations:
What Google would like you to do is to simply list all your locations on one listing.  This is not a great idea.  It’s best that each location function as an independent business in the eyes of the search engines.  This way, they each get maximum exposure.
For this to operate successfully you have to take care of a multitude of details while doing your best to avoid contravening Google’s terms of service – which, by the way, are not easy to find until you’re right in the middle of the process of actually setting up a listing.  Each location has to have it’s own unique details, citations and so on in order for each location to be able to run it’s own Google+ Local Listing.  If you need to drive traffic to each specific location then this is totally worth the effort and time you’ll need to invest in the set up.
National or Global Markets:
If your client base is national or global, you can still use local marketing strategies – but instead of for the purpose of bringing in local traffic, more as an SEO tactic.  While building local authority will boost local ranking results for your web presence, it will also eventually boost your authority in general search results.
This is especially useful if you are in a tough market where there is high competition and costs to advertise are high.  Begin building a local presence and it will eventually also help you rank nationally and globally.  For this purpose you would use your corporate office location as your ‘local’ business and then use the same local business marketing strategies as discussed above.


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