The Importance of Local Search for Small to Medium Businesses
Locally operating business used to rely on targeted
and affordable advertising options to promote their products and services to the
local community. Many companies were able to accommodate small ads in local newspapers,
yellow pages listings, local mail-drops or advertising on local radio stations within
their advertising budget.
With changing media usage habits, people are spending less time with print publications
or in front of the television, but instead are spending more time on the Internet,
so it is only natural that local business should be visible in this medium, too.
Since company websites allow customers to find out more about a firm and its offerings,
a web presence has definitely become a "must" in some industries. For example, you
probably wouldn’t deal with a marketing agency that doesn’t maintain a company website.
And once you have a website that allows people to find out more about your products,
buy them, and get in contact with you, you should ensure that you maximise its marketing
potential by promoting its existence - hence local advertising.
There are a range of different options in regards to local advertising on the internet
- you can either book display advertising on locally targeted sites (like the site
of your local newspaper or other community sites), you can pay for expanded listings
in directories like the online yellow pages, or you can invest in local search advertising.
For pretty much every Internet user, search engines are the starting point for finding
information, and that applies to non-local information as much as to local information.
So search engines are a great option for local advertising. The major search engines
let you target local search advertising by allowing you to select a specific geographical
area, zip code, or radius around a location, or by advertising when specifically
local searches are being performed.
For example, a dry cleaning business in the centre of San Francisco could choose
to only have their ad displayed when searchers are located within the San Francisco
CBD and/or could bid on search terms like "San Francisco CBD dry cleaner". Both
options enable you too zero in on only the people in your local area who are interested
in your services. This saves you a lot of money, since you are not wasting your
advertising expenditure on Internet users who are on the other side of the country.
If you asked businesses who already actively participate in local online advertising,
many of them would be able to identify local advertising as a significant revenue
driver for their business.