What should always be included in an online strategy? SEO/SEM, right. Now, this is defiantly not true for all and probably, truth be told, nor is the online strategy bit. But, cannot stress enough the importance of the search and the need to be appearing near or on top. Everyone who is online will (more accurately are) search for something at some point. There is a reason why people say “Google that”. So, if one wants to sell/promote a service/product/business/etc one should(must?) be seen in these searches. Yes, question is then how? Many ways and methods to do this.. One thing is for sure, need to be active (update and react to trends) and focused (many words to choose form). Good thing is, much can be done for free(ish) – many services from ex. Google are free, SEO is free, but one have to spend time doing this actively to see results and that time is most likely not free… Either way for free(ish) one can dramatically improve the chance to be seen. Or for even a small budget one can be victorious. Well, if making a suggestion – I would hire a specialist to make this happen, in the long run this will prover more lucrative and quicker…
Found an interesting article on just this subject from iMedia Connection (geared towards local but applies to all) .
Some key points:
Explosive growth in local search and the increased visibility potential due to universal search and personalization.
- Explosive local search growth: Local search queries increased 24 percent in 2007, faster than general searches
- Increased visibility potential: Google and some major search engines introduced personalized search and universal search, greatly impacting the search results landscape. This is both a blessing and a dilemma because it requires different optimization strategies, but it also offers multiple opportunities to be found in the SERPs
The importance of local listings
Every company needs a local listing, regardless of whether it sells locally, nationally or internationally.
- Free Google maps listings: List your business in Google Maps by going to Google’s Local Business Center, where you’ll find information for creating your free listing.
Google maps advertising
Google Maps displays local business ads, integrating the local match options from Google AdWords into Google Maps.
Through Google enhanced listings, Local business ads, Logo image and Coupons.
Yahoo local listing
Your free local listing is called Yahoo Local Basic.
Yahoo provides sponsored search and local listings as local advertising options.
- Sponsored search: These pay-per-click ads on Yahoo can be geo-targeted by user location or user interest (keyword). Geo-targeted sponsored search ads can also be inserted into the Yahoo Local results.
- Local listings: These listings appear on Yahoo Local and have two flat-rate fee levels.
Optimization tips for local listings
To rank well in local search, it goes without saying that your site should be optimized for organic listings. Optimize all on-page and off-page factors, and get your site listed in important directories for your niche.
Other local search opportunities
Note: many are US only but I am sure may are likely to expand…
Live Search – player number 3. In maps etc
AskCity – name says it all
CitySearch – Provides local information for sites such as MSN Live, Ask, Expedia, Ticketmaster and more.
Google Product Search – Local merchants can get free listings on Google’s free product search engine (formerly Froogle)
Insider Pages – This site features local listings and user-generated reviews.
Local.com: Your business should take advantage of the free basic listing.
ReachLocal: This site provides services for setting up, maintaining and tracking local search advertising campaigns on sites like Google, Yahoo, MSN Live and AOL for a fee.
The local search advantage
Local search research by Kelsey Group shows that 70 percent of online searchers will use local search to find offline businesses. The TMPDM-comScore study shows 86 percent of online users will be searching for a local business at some point in time. So it’s important to be visible for local search queries by getting listed in Google Maps, Yahoo Local and all other local search engines and directories. It can also be advantageous for branding to buy sponsored local search listings for a good balance of natural and paid search listings.
For more information about the local search industry, you can download “Unlocking the Potential of the Local Internet” by Marchex, Inc. This 12-page white paper gives a detailed overview of the local search market and major players.
Quickly, go do it!