B2B marketers establish conversions – or desired actions – throughout their customers’ buying process. These actions may take place online, on the phone, or live at a specific location. Regardless, many occur at the local level. Local search enables marketers to capitalize on these interactions and differentiate your firm based upon one very important factor – geographic proximity.
Below are four tips to help B2B marketers reach prospects at the local level.
- Test local PPC advertising Devising a well-laid plan for your search advertising program is a crucial step. Are you engaged in a nationally targeted campaign now? Consider testing geo-targeted campaigns for select cities or regions. Many companies, even large national advertisers, experience superior results with local ad targeting due to increased differentiation, relevance and response.Consider placing ads on local mapping sites and local search sites (examples given below), as this can be a cost-effective way to reach business buyers locally.
- Submit and manage your business profile Proactively submit your business descriptions, locations, URLs and phone numbers to the big three search engine applications – Google Maps, Yahoo! Local, and Microsoft Live Search.
- Google Maps: Submit a free listing to Google Maps via the Google Local Business Center. Searchers will be served your business information when querying Google Maps for local information. You can edit these listings as needed, and must provide confirmation details for business verification purposes. Note: Since Google’s launch of universal search (based on their comparative ranking & blending methodology) map listings, blog posts, images and other types of results are now returned within Google’s main organic search results. A local search listing, therefore, will be served along with other organic listings, not just within a Google Maps listing.
- Microsoft Live Search: Submit your business’s listing for free via Microsoft’s Local Listing Center. Searchers will be served an interactive map listing that can include your address and URL, a bird’s eye view of your business, phone number, and even directions to your location. As with Google Maps, you can edit your listings after a business verification process.
- Yahoo! Local: Similarly, submit your business information, along with category recommendations to Yahoo! Local via Yahoo! Submit. Searchers will see a map listing along with local search results that include your address, URL, phone number, user reviews, and a link to obtain directions. As with both Google and MSN, you can edit and enhance this information over time. Note: Be proactive about generating customer reviews on Yahoo. Consider soliciting customer feedback on your website and encourage customers to write reviews. Make a habit of regularly monitoring user comments on the web to better understand your customer experience.
- Capitalize on local directories and search sites Local business directories, IYP (Internet Yellow Pages) directories, and local search sites are all places customers go online to find a business close to home. Examples include: MerchantCircle, Localeze, Citysearch and SuperPages. Proactively submit your business profile information to these sites and keep it current and compelling. To maximize the search marketing benefit you receive from your listing, I recommend that you incorporate the following elements:
- Keyword-rich local business description
- Local images relevant to your business (such as photos of leaders and your building)
- Videos about your business and product/service offerings
- Address and local phone number
- Hours of operation
- Consider a Mobile Search Program As mobile technologies continue to evolve, so too does mobile search. Applications like Google Mobile, Yahoo! Mobile, and even GOOG 411 (Google’s free 411 application) are now available to searchers while en route.At first glance, mobile search may appear more applicable for the consumer market, but B2B marketers shouldn’t discount the potential benefits of mobile search marketing. Do your business customers need to access directions to your office, find hours of operation, or your phone number? If so, then mobile search should be a part of your program.Ensure your listings are included in the Google Mobile index by adding a Mobile Site Map to your account. Similarly, submit your site for inclusion within any Yahoo!-powered Mobile Search service via Yahoo! Site Explorer. Visit Microsoft Live Search Webmaster Center to add your listing to MSN Mobile Search.
Local searchers: Ready for action
Local search marketing traditionally reaches a prospect at the closest point to sale, or conversion. After the initial search and research phases, local search results provide searchers who are ready to to action with that final bit of crucial information: Go here to get X.
As a savvy B2B Marketer, make sure your business has covered all of its bases in developing a comprehensive search marketing strategy that includes local search. Over time, evaluate web analytics data to verify that your local search program is indeed generating more traffic, conversions, leads and sales from these local sources.
And as always, stay tuned for new trends in the search evolution.
Julie Shumaker is the Director of Search Engine Optimization Services at SmartSearch Marketing,a Boulder Colorado-based B2B search marketing firm. Julie has worked in the search marketing arena since 2000 with a variety of B2B and B2C clients, specializing in organic search for pharmaceutical brands. The Strictly Business column appears weekly at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.