Tip Sheet

Mar­ket­ing to your lo­cal cus­tomers—on­line. Plus: The Jarg­ona­tor


IF YOU GOOGLE “fash­ion” in Colum­bus, Ohio, you’ll find Macy’s, Tal­bots—and Rowe. The 10-year-old bou­tique may be small, but it of­ten turns up in the “three-pack” of lo­cal list­ings that top many Google re­sults pages. Owner Maren Roth achieved that vis­i­bil­ity thanks to an up-to-date Google My Busi­ness list­ing, links from lo­cal com­pa­nies, a loyal so­cial me­dia fol­low­ing, and key­word op­ti­miza­tion. “We don’t do a lot of ad­ver­tis­ing, but we do a ton of so­cial me­dia, so lo­cal shop­pers fol­low the store,” Roth says. “We col­lab­o­rate with lo­cal bloggers, tag ven­dors in pic­tures, and get links from ven­dors’ web­sites.” The value of that top-three list­ing is high: Google found in 2014 that 50 per­cent of con­sumers who searched lo­cally on their phones vis­ited a store within a day. To snare those shop­pers, use a broad-based ap­proach. —ETELKA LEHOCZKY

Aim for Three

Step one to rank­ing in the three-pack is get­ting a free Google My Busi­ness list­ing, avail­able at google.com/busi­ness. Tar­geted pri­mar­ily at in-per­son shop­pers, it in­cludes your lo­ca­tion, con­tact in­for­ma­tion, hours of op­er­a­tion, pho­tos, and a brief de­scrip­tion. Since lo­cal searches are usu­ally highly de­tailed, write your de­scrip­tion ac­cord­ingly. “A lo­cal search isn’t ‘I’m look­ing for a ho­tel near me,’ ” says Jef­frey Rohrs, chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer of on­line ap­pear­ance man­age­ment com­pany Yext. “It’s ‘I’m look­ing for a ho­tel near me, tonight, that ac­cepts pets and has Jacuzzis.’ ” Up­load lots of high­qual­ity pic­tures to your list­ing. “Pic­tures are the equiv­a­lent of your store­front on­line,” says Mi­tul Gandhi, co-founder and chief ar­chi­tect of search en­gine op­ti­miza­tion firm SeoClar­ity. You’ll also need to get con­trol of your NAP—your name, ad­dress, and phone num­ber data. This may seem like the most ob­vi­ous thing in the world, but even if your in­for­ma­tion is cor­rect on your web­site, it can be in­ac­cu­rate or miss­ing on any of the thou­sands of di­rec­to­ries that Google crawls, and cor­rect­ing those er­rors is no small feat. To see how your NAP is listed across the web, use the tools found at Yext.com or YP.com. To fix any er­ro­neous list­ings, use a DIY pro­gram like Moz Lo­cal or a do-it-for-me plat­form like Bran­dify, says Laura Rich, CEO of lo­cal mar­ket­ing tech­nol­ogy dig­i­tal pub­li­ca­tion Street Fight.

Be­yond Google

The three-pack is just the be­gin­ning when it comes to vis­i­bil­ity. Sign up for free pro­files any­where you can: Yelp, YP.com, Lo­cal.com, Bing Places for Busi­ness, and city di­rec­to­ries in your area. Be­cause so many lo­cal searches are mobile, it’s im­por­tant to be listed on Ap­ple Maps. Visit map­scon­nect.ap­ple.com to add or up­date your in­for­ma­tion. Also,

make sure to build a wider re­gional so­cial me­dia pres­ence. Alex D’Hue’s Gar­den Grove, Cal­i­for­nia, ju­jitsu dojo, Gra­cie Barra Gar­den Grove, has got­ten 20 to 25 leads a month, up from one or two, since he be­gan hold­ing events in neigh­bor­ing cities and men­tion­ing them on his site. “We did a demon­stra­tion at a school fair in Seal Beach and blogged about it, so we came up in search re­sults for Seal Beach,” D’Hue says.

Get Per­sonal With So­cial Me­dia

Lo­cally tar­geted ads on Face­book, In­sta­gram, Twit­ter, and Snapchat can be a dirt-cheap bo­nanza, be­cause you can pur­chase in­ex­pen­sive ads that run in spe­cific geo­graph­i­cal ar­eas and ZIP codes. At Rick Cur­ren Auto Sales in Horse­heads, New York, mar­ket­ing man­ager An­thony Cur­ren of­ten sees lo­cally tar­geted ads cost­ing only a few hun­dred dol­lars gen­er­ate leads months later. “If I have a ve­hi­cle on­line as an ad,” he says, “it will be sold quickly.” Chicago in­te­rior de­signer Brooke Lang used In­sta­gram’s lo­cal tar­get­ing fea­tures to co­or­di­nate her pur­chase of spon­sored posts with her ap­pear­ance on a ra­dio show. “I put the lo­ca­tion of the ra­dio sta­tion’s stu­dio [into In­sta­gram’s tool] and then picked a 10-mile ra­dius,” she says. Roth rec­om­mends putting your­self front and cen­ter on In­sta­gram, where her bou­tique has roughly 12,000 fol­low­ers. “If I’m in our pic­tures or videos, our Likes go up and we sell more,” she says. Over two years, leads from In­sta­gram have grown to ac­count for 10 per­cent of her sales. So­cial me­dia can also help you get pos­i­tive re­views else­where. “Peo­ple who post nice com­ments or hash­tag pho­tos can be pri­vate-mes­saged and en­cour­aged to leave a re­view,” sug­gests mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant Wendy We­in­stein Karp. Pos­i­tive Google My Busi­ness re­views are one of the most im­por­tant fac­tors cor­re­lat­ing with three-pack rank­ings, ac­cord­ing to 2016 re­search by Lo­cal SEO Guide.

Il­lus­tra­tion by MARTIN LEON BARRETO

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