Often overshadowed by the larger Search channels such as Paid and Organic, Local Search can serve as one of the most beneficial online tools for any small business owner. It may seem near impossible to compete against the big box or franchised stores but Local Search can provide any small business a competitive edge in the online search space.
At its simplest form, using Google Places as an example, allows any local business to list both the address and exact location of their store or service allowing potential customers to find the business across the web. Other features, if the listing has been properly optimized, include phone number, hours of operation, directions, store images, feedback & reviews. These listings are applicable to show on: Search, Maps, Mobile Devices and Tablets.
With the growing presence of location-based searches through smart phones and mobile devices these additional features add to the user experience through relevance and accessibility. A user is more likely to call or request directions knowing they are within 5km of your business versus travelling longer distances to a big box type store. Localized searches alone can result in both lead and call generation for local business owners.
Local Search can also benefit those who may not have a website but are looking to gain online presence. As local listings tend to rank high in online search results, professionals such as a lawyer, dentist or veterinarian can leverage Local Search to create more visibility. With the click-to-call type feature being readily available in the listing the user is put into immediate contact with the business or service; call generation is just one way business professionals can profit from Local Search.
Small business services, such as a spa for example, can use Local Search to connect with their customers by assessing feedback & reviews of their spa experience and respond accordingly. Understanding customer feedback allows these services to cater and accommodate to their target market and in turn potentially create both new and repeat customers.
Outlined above are just a few ways that business owners can leverage Local Search to drive traffic both online and offline. In a world where consumers become more and more reliant on smart phones and mobile devices it is critical for any small business owner to stay on top and adapt to the constantly evolving search world. If you’re still living in the dark or would like to learn more about Local Search both Bing Places for Business and Google: Places for Business are a great start.
Thanks for reading,