SES Focus: Local Search Marketing Tactics

This post is part of AIMCLEAR‘s live coverage of SES NY 2008, and covers a session on the Local search track.

Local Search from Car
Image courtesy

How can search marketers maximize the local presence of their clients? There are a myriad of ways to do so, using many different properties and approaches. Some such approaches include online/internet Yellow Pages, local search engines, maps and mapping functions, local directories, and much more. In today’s ‘s session, we heard from experts in the trenches, regarding the strategies and tactics most commonly utilized.

Gregg Stewart, Senior Vice President, Interactive, TMP Directional Marketing

Steve Espinosa, Director of Product Development and Management, eLocal Listing, LLC

This session approaches local from 2 completely different directions. One is grass roots, from increasing the presence of small to medium sized busineses. The other is giving large corporations a dramatically increased local presence. Very different perspectives!

The presenters obviously did a lot of pre-planning, and employed a tag team effort.

Stewart – On the Potential of Local:

For those unfamiliar with Stewart, he wrote a great piece aptly titled 10 Winning Ways to Optimize Local Search

In 2008, 4.6 billion will be spent in local online advertising, a 58% increase over 2007. However, this only represents roughly 15% of the overall internet pie. That said, there still is a very large gap; only 4% of local media advertising is currently being spent online. The gap will continue to decrease fortunately.

Espinosa – Local Search Marketing Tactics:

Local search marketing tactics suggestions:
a. create a specific page for each location
b. anchor text link from index page to location page
c. press releases
d. b2b, city sites, category specific sites
e. Use hcard … code to embed in site that tells Google necessary information for some local content.

Webpage optimization:
a. place embed code of video on home page and location page
b. link to video page from index page
c. video sitemap
d. utilize “ref=nofollow” to push more link juice to pages that need it

a. request only necessary information … keep length to a minimum
b. put forms only on appropriate pages

Sponsored Result Tactics for both Google and Yahoo:
a. utilize local business ads
b. employ geo-targeting
c. landing page … send people to the specific town/city page, not to the home page
d. use social media – submissions to Digg, MySpace will appear in the search results themselves very quickly. Good opportunity to rank for local terms.

Local Search Verticals:
– include your business in as many RELEVANT categories as possible
– secure positive reviews

Video is a tremendous opportunity to appear in the universal search results of various engines. Using these tactics can get you into numerous sections of the first search results page … both organic and paid search results.

Stewart – Directories:
Who are the big players:
a. 44%
b. 31%
c. Citysearch 10%
d. 8%
e. DexKnows 3%

Top Online New Sites:
WallStreetJournal Online

Top Online Vertical Categories:
Automotive, Legal, Health Care, Restaurants, Home Improvement, Real Estate … but the behavior within each is substantially different. Restaurants for example will drive many page views, but few calls. People are more likely to visit in person.

Internet Yellow Pages and Local Guides – Advertising Opportunities:
CPM or, Pay for Performance, Fixed Fee/Sponsorship, Organic /Natural listings

Newspaper and Vertical Sites – Advertising Opportunities:
CPM, Fixed fee, organic/natural listings

Local Listing Data Feeds
Data for some major local directory/information comes from data aggregators. This is really important because relatively recently, Google has started showing many local results not just the 3 shown previously.
… so ensure you get as much information as possible into these aggregators.

Espinosa – Video:

Produce video … because not only can you get placement in the new universal results, but it knocks your competitors out of that space too. Its a real opportunity at the moment, since not many have video. Here are some tips for video for local:
a. keep it short and sweet (15-30 seconds)
b. no need for HD quality footage
c. include phone number and address
d. have a company do it for you (elocal, TurnHere, Mixpo)

Create a page on your site to host this video:
a. use appropriate title tags
b. include relevant keywords in file name
c. remember to use appropriate anchor text links when linking to that page

Video sitemap
a. allow embed
b. create thumb nails with bus name and phone number

Make sure your video is TV Ready (if possible):
a. allows you to create and merge offline and online marketing
b. thousands of affordable impressions

Stewart – Reviews and Ratings:
User Reviews & Ratings
1 out of 4 consumers now consults online ratings and reviews prior to making local purchasing decisions. Sites with reviews get twice the response of sites without.

What are Online Rating and Reviews?
Online applications that allow consumers to easily express their opinions as well as read opinions left by others.

Interesting … more than 70% of local search sites offer user reviews and ratings.

Develop a process for dealing with consumer input and both positive and negative comments … you cannot prevent it. However, reward those that provide a positive review for you. A strategy for encouraging is is to give them a 3×5 cards describing exactly how to give a positive review.

Espinosa – Tips for Reviews:
If you do receive a negative review … do not rebut too frequently. End it relatively quickly. Quick resolution is always the goal.

Tips for Reviews:
– encourage customers to write reviews with your key phrases in it
– key phrases in reviews may help rank for long tail key phrases
– research where Google is scraping the reviews from for your industry, and get reviews on those sites too.

Stewart – Tracking Online and Offline Conversions:
Although most people research local business information online, 80% still purchase offline via an in-store visit or a phone call. Need to track and quantify this to determine what works and what doesn’t. Opportunities for tracking:

Online Tracking:
– tracking URL
– post click tracking
– online lead generation forms

Offline Tracking:
– Call tracking … through special dedicated phone numbers
– consumer call back surveys
– coupons or discount codes

Also of interest:
Jeff Quipp is President of Search Engine People Inc. a Toronto SEO / SEM / SMM firm .

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