Letter: Local Search Isn’t All That New

I read the article about local search with a smile (The Direct Marketer’s Essential Guide to Search Engine Marketing, July 25). As a search engine optimization firm, targeting local search or demographics has been a long-guarded secret we have used for our clients for years. From the very beginning, in 2000, we have worked with local companies to target a specific regional or geographic area. It’s only recently that “local search” is seen as the next big thing, since the search engines themselves have been touting it as something new.

For example, we are in Tampa, FL. The Tampa Bay community consists of about 12 counties. For one of our clients, a local caterer serving much of this area, we were able to target each specific “city” comprising the bay area, using only organic search and no pay-per-click listings. The caterer enjoyed top 10 rankings in the major engines, most of the time occupying the No. 1 spot.

We were able to take his Web site, which in the past had not developed any new business, to averaging 30-40 leads per month. When he had hired our firm he was spending almost $5,000 per month on the yellow pages and had ads in multiple books that make up Tampa Bay. He has since cut yellow page advertising to about $1,000 per month by cutting down the size of his ads. His SEO ROI was on average 300 percent.

We are different than most SEO firms in several ways. The biggest difference is we offer exclusivity to our clients. In other words, while working for the caterer, we will not represent another caterer in Tampa, as we view this as a conflict of interest. This way the client is assured that we are working for them and them alone. Now, if a caterer in New York City were to contact us for SEO, we would work with them as they are not in competition for the Tampa market. We want clients to know we work for them solely and that their bottom line is more important than our bottom line.

It has worked well, and businesses seem to appreciate the difference. Local search has long been one of the SEO secrets that we have been using and continue to use. I do not agree that online yellow pages are the way to go.

Most local and small businesses have come to the realization that without a Web site they are missing a huge opportunity, and now most have Web sites. The focus should be on their own Web site and optimizing the content to rank high under pertinent keywords, not throw money at the thousands of yellow pages online.

I enjoy reading your news and will continue, but I’d love to see more articles telling companies how they can market their Web sites more effectively and less expensively than they would think.

Cindy Russell, 9Seconds,Tampa, FL

[email protected]

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