Internet advertising seems like a good idea for your business.
(article continues below)
The problem is your company is a local company, and it just doesn't make sense to pour a ton of cash into web-based advertising that primarily draws the attention of people outside your geographic area. Fortunately, technology has finally caught up with the needs of businesses like yours through something called local internet searching.
Local internet searching is aimed at connecting web surfers with products, services, and businesses in their local community. Sounds straightforward, right? In reality, it's easier said than done. Search engines employ a complicated query system to obtain the information requested by the user. In the past, queries have produced a list of results based primarily on the keyword that is being searched. However, more and more search engines are making efforts to upgrade their systems to take into account the location of search results.
Leveraging the power of local searches for your small business is not necessarily a straightforward process. Since the internet itself is a highly diversified and decentralized creature, there is no single avenue you can pursue to maximize the potential of local searching. Instead, you will need to piece together a local search strategy from a variety of sources. The possibilities include the following:
Search Engine Optimization
Most of the major internet search engines - e.g. Google, Yahoo, MSN - already offer varying degrees of support for local searching. However, Google's local search capability is probably the most advanced because it was the first major search engine to employ IP targeting.
By distilling geographical information such as region, state, city, etc. from the IP address of the searcher's computer, Google targets search results according to geographic locale - a huge benefit for a localized small business.
There are other proactive steps you can take to raise your local profile as well. Search results are ranked through a complicated mix of keywords, click frequency, web links, and other factors. Although search engine optimization is a specialized field, it is possible to boost your site's ranking among local searchers. If you don't have the ability to do this yourself, consult someone with optimization experience.
Local Search Engines
The trend toward local searching has resulted in the emergence of local search engines such as Local.com and TrueLocal.com. Unlike Google, Yahoo, and other more common search engines, these search engines are specifically designed to produce geographically localized results. Although local search engines aren't nearly as popular as their mainstream peers, it's still worth exploring how you may be able to increase your business' visibility through them.
Online Yellow Pages
Traditionally, the yellow pages have been a critical tool in raising the local visibility of small businesses. With the rising popularity of the internet, the yellow pages have adapted and now maintain an online presence. For information about how to take advantage of online yellow page listings, visit YellowPages.com or SuperPages.com.