People are more than ever relying on search engines to find and contact their local businesses. This is resulting in an important shift in consumer behavior and is having a major impact on how local customers search for their products and services.
Noticeably market share is now being taken away from traditional print yellow pages and newspaper classified advertising and being spread into online advertising as businesses are finding better results for their advertising investment.
Nielsen/NetRatings conducted a survey last year to determine how U.S. consumers were using the Internet. 70 percent of the 2,866 respondents reported using the web to search for a local service business, with 46 percent doing so in the past 90 days. This trend is supported by data from COMScore, indicating that “local intent” is now driving up to 40 percent of all online searches.
This should be sending a very clear message to every local business out there that they should be taking a serious step towards the online advertising arena.
For those small business owners who don’t know much about online advertising then a great place to start is with advertising on Google with either sponsored search or on Google maps/local search. The sponsored search listings appear on the right hand side adjacent to the web results in Google. While local search incorporates Google maps to show an advertisers location.
You may be thinking that the internet is too sparse to capture your local market but that trend is changing. Advertising on the internet has come a long way from what we saw even a year ago. If you advertise on Google then you have many geo-graphical targeting options. These options will cover you no matter what sized area you wish to target. You can choose from:
- World-wide targeting
- Country-wide targeting
- Regional targeting
- City targeting
- And customized targeting that allows you to choose a certain distance from your business
This means that only searchers that are within this area can see your sponsored ads when searching from Google.
Let me explain using an example. Let’s just say that I own a pizza shop on 12 Pizza Rd Atlanta, Georgia, that serves its local market with piping hot pizza’s. I would set up a Google advertising account and then be able to choose from the following geographical areas to target.
- The whole world (however this is probably not practical for my local pizza shop)
- The entire US market (I think this is still a little broad)
- The state of Atlanta (getting a little closer)
- The city of Georgia (If I delivered to the whole city, then yes)
- Or within x amount of miles of 12 Pizza Road, Atlanta, Georgia ( I think this is my best option)
Google then uses this information to match my advertisement to people searching from within this specified area, this matching of searchers and local business makes for a highly targeted result.
This is a very exciting time for local business with so many online advertising options available to increase your customer base. If you are a small or medium business that is not yet advertising online I would highly recommend that you make that step. Following your customers into the world of online search can be great for your business, however not being included can mean losing out on potential customers that cannot find you online.