Dos and Don'ts: Local search

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Local search offers all the accountability and potential for delivering high ROI that make SEM such an attractive channel for marketers, and can help businesses geo-target as well. OrangeSoda co-founder Derek Miner and Gregg Stewart, SVP, TMP Directional Marketing, offer tips on how to become local search-savvy without letting dollars fly out the door.

Derek Miner, co-founder and EVP, OrangeSoda

Do: Make it easy for your customers to find you.  

Your customers are closer than you think. While local search is comprised of several factors — PPC, SEO and local business results — optimizing the map results that appear in the local business listings is a fairly new marketing technique that is evolving rapidly. There are a couple of things you should do to improve your ranking in the local business results: First, create the right content in the right places. Having location-specific content on your actual Web page will go a long way. Second, create keyword-rich content on your Google profile. Also, make sure your linking strategy is consistent across all of your Web properties.

Don't: Underestimate the opportunity of local search. 

Don't think you can set it and forget it. Keep your business information current. If you have conflicting information out there, such as an out of date address or phone number, your results won't be as successful. The more often Google finds your business name with consistent business information, the higher your listing will rank.

Gregg Stewart, SVP, TMP Directional Marketing

Do: Measure offline response.

A lot of people in the online area are just looking at click responses as an indicator of whether a campaign is working or not. But many people who use local search respond over the telephone and visit the store. So if you're not out there measuring offline response, in many cases you're missing the majority share of your responses. You can do this by using-phone tracking lines — lines that count how many times it's utilized. You can list that number in local search ads that don't appear anywhere else, so you can measure only responses to those ads. You can also use recent purchaser surveys or poll people as they come in at the point of presence.

Don't: Tell the engine to broad match.

For example, if you're buying placement on Google or Yahoo and you buy the keyword “plumbers” and tell the engine to broad match, searchers who enter a wildcard term on either side of the “plumbers” keyword will see your ad. So you might think your ad will show up if someone types in “plumbers in Greenwich.” However, if competitors are bidding on the exact match term “plumbers in Greenwich,” your ad may not be flowing into that space and your investment is lost. Less can be more when it comes to buying keywords.

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