Local Search Marketing Means Acting Like A Local

If you own or work with local websites, your marketing and site optimization efforts are similar to global methods and wildly different too. Despite the outpouring of local search engines and seminars on how to market locally, success can be frustrating because with some local websites, it seems as though nobody is behind the wheel.

Bill Slawski brought up local searching the other day in his blog, in a post called Building an Online Community in Your Community. He writes,

I was surprised over the past couple of days after deciding that I’d like to find the Web addresses for as many businesses in my neighborhood as I could. There were more than I expected, though a number of them were pretty hard to locate.

I’ve also been trying to find blogs written by local bloggers, and that has been a challenge, too.

As head webmaster for my town’s baseball Little League website, one of my jobs is finding other local sites to link with. I mentioned in Bill’s blog some of the roadblocks I’ve found. The one that’s most frustrating to me is finding a contact person on local sites, or even a site worth linking with because the quality is poor. Even government sites, which are supposed to be search engine darlings, fall apart at the local government level.

A not so well known factor in local website marketing is local politics. I’m not talking about running for office. In my town, there were two people who knew how to build websites twelve years ago – me and a local business owner, who has served on various Councils and is otherwise Mr. Network Guy.

Today, I still see his work. Local shops. Chamber of Commerce. The sites are “old school” HTML, with textured backgrounds and in some cases, blinking images and frames. Some local sites I find don’t looked touched in years. Whether built by him or someone else, the site owners seem unaware of the passage of time, or know about Web 2.0.

I know there’s gold here in my town, if I wanted to set up a website shop. One way to understand local search is to tackle the locals and if necessary, teach them how to build and market websites that the folks down the street will find and want to engage with.

Travel is Not Just Global

My friend Mary Bowling, of Blizzard Internet Marketing, wrote a hefty white paper on local search called Local Search Engine Marketing: Profitable Tactics for the Lodging Industry. (The link goes to a form, which allows registration for download.)

She covers enormous ground in this piece. While her industry is travel sites, the whitepaper is loaded with information on local search that any genre or marketing practitioner can use.

How do people search for local sites? What are local terms? Optimization for local search. Marketing techniques. Mobile search. Mary writes,

The search engines deem local search engine results to be the most relevant for searches made on mobile devices. Therefore, with just a few exceptions, mobile searchers – those using web-enabled cell phones, PDAs and Blackberries to search the internet – see local search results by default.

She emphasizes,

If where you are is important to what you do, then you must maximize your business’s presence in the local search results and optimize it for the best performance.

Interest in local search continues to thrive. New marketing tools like Local Search Traffic and firms that focus on local marketing are working hard to teach new skills.