A Local Search for Local People

DOM Team | |

One of the many bonuses of having my mother over this past two weeks is that she’s done all the touristy searching for things to do locally. I probably haven’t had as much time as I’d like to go full tilt at finding out everything there is to do round here. Now, thanks to my mother, I’ve got a house load of flyers to partake in every tourist activity all over West Virginia.

Yesterday we decided to trot off through the backend of Bethlehem to take a look at the Palace of Gold. As I’ve grown older I’ve learned not to question as to why things like one of the world’s largest Hare Krishna temples is located in the middle of nowhere in West Virginia. You simply accept.

If you go anywhere in the world, every single town, city or village will have at least one weird and wonderful claim to fame that becomes firmly ingrained into local folklore. Although, I always wonder if George Washington hadn’t made it as a President whether he could’ve made it as a travel guide considering every town in America claims he slept there. Then again, considering the number of places he’s had a nap, I’m amazed he had time to do anything remotely constructive.

It’s always fairly easy for local areas to get the word out about their local attractions. Not only do you have tourist information centers wherever you may go, but there’s also word of mouth from your average local. It’s almost a default setting as to where you’d send people for an interesting afternoon. I’ve only been here three months and I’ve taken eight people on the Oglebay tour.

In the same way we all know where we’d go to find out what to visit or what we’d personally recommend somebody else go and visit offline, we now have local search results that show you what’s going on in any given area with recommendations and reviews from locals or people who’ve actually visited.

However, according to this Online Media Daily article, local business is failing to keep pace with online demand.

“LOCAL BUSINESSES ARE FAILING TO establish themselves online as quickly as the consumers in search of their services, according to a Marchex report released this week.

“Unlocking the Potential of the Internet” states that regional businesses will spend more than $100 billion on local outreach this year, but only 5% of that will go to the Internet. The rest will be devoted to old-media standbys such as Yellow Page directories, newspapers, television and radio.

To put that in perspective, a recent Piper Jaffray survey showed that local search is now the second most common activity online.

“Historically, local businesses haven’t been as fast to move online as others, but the fact remains that people are using the Internet now to make locally focused decisions more than anything other than email,” said Mark Peterson, Marchex’s vice president of public relations. “So if you’re a business trying to reach local customers looking to do business with you, local search should definitely be a part of your marketing mix.”

It’s one thing saying you ought to be tapping into the power of local search on the Internet because a few marketing reports deem it to be a worthy wagon to jump on. It’s another thing if users and potential customers are using local search to find local businesses and are struggling to find the information they require.

Demand is obviously outstripping supply.

As far as supplying these services for local businesses, it’s extremely effective to set up a pay per click campaign that can target your advertisements to particular cities or exact geographical areas. You can also target specific towns, cities and areas within organic results with effective Web copy and a well organized linking campaign. Yes, I may be over-simplifying a touch, but you don’t need boring with all the technical guff, surely?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a temple wanting visitors from all over; an insurance company wanting to increase its local customer base; a baker wanting to increase wedding cake sales within a specific deliverable area; or a t-shirt company wanting to sell globally and target specific cities for wholesale distribution – it can be done extremely cost effectively incorporating both paid and natural listings.

I’ve experienced losing local listings and regaining an improved set of them, and let me tell you, appearing in local search results for your chosen terms does provide you with a better class of overall lead. And I’ve experienced that from having a lighter wallet after they’d disappeared for a bit.

There was a time I couldn’t care less about whether the respective sites I was running appeared in local listings or not as you think there’s gold in other far-off hills.

But, as I can wholeheartedly testify, there’s a Palace of Gold in these here hills and a wealth of riches to be found online.

You just have to make sure people can find them.

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