The World is NOT Flat Because of Local Search

  • Think global, search local

    By Amy Munice | Publication date: 06/10/2011 | Category: Tactics > International


    It’s 2011, and now the local search algorithm in all the world’s search engines is one of the most important factors affecting your website success “on both sides of the pond”.

    At this time, the way in which search engines now favour “local search” will often make it difficult for your long-distance prospects doing research to find a business like yours actually see your pages in their search results—unless they happen to be very local. Outside your locale, you are to a greater or lesser extent climbing a hill. Best case scenario—your prospect is so local that they will easily find you on the Google maps page for the keywords you seek. Worst case scenario—your fiercest competitor’s home office is in your prospect’s location and that competitor’s site, reviews of its business, and many local search listings in its area are referencing it. Minimally, all that eats up key real estate on the top of the search page or pages for the prime keywords you concentrate your SEO efforts on.

    A huge mistake that many make is to think that whatever they Google and find is what their prospects find too. First, even if you clean your cookies every day, personalised search algorithms—a subject for another day—are serving you up a solipsistic misperception. You can actually get a view of local search if you take some time on your next business or leisure trip to do some tests. Better yet, if you travel a lot do the same tests again and again.

    Good news—there is a solution, or more accurately, several ways to address the local search algorithms at work—that will get you into every market you seek. Here are three tips to solving the local search algorithm challenge.

    1. Get found on online publications that are in the market/s you seek
    With all the fuss about social media and friend networks via the likes of Google+,  the role of “traditional” global public relations for lead generation is being undervalued by many. For starters, an article or news release in a local journal or magazine will help your customer in that locale find you. Better yet, online publications that target a specific locale will not only get you on the radar of your long-distance customer but also build in links that may help your “ranking” for keywords your SEO work targets. 

    “Traditional” PR does not mean out-of-date PR approaches. Rather, you need to be programming your PR work to be in sync with how the web works and how online publications are facing the same SEO challenges you do. Consider this—online publications also need to add fresh content constantly so that their domain will be found in organic searches, and also to state their readers’ interest in changing information. Online publications are competing for attention on the web. Often this means that their ends and your ends are potentially one and the same—as long as you provide good content (read: heavy on information and not overbearingly commercial) for publications’ posts or blogging to keep their content fresh in between issue dates.

    2. Figure out the best way to promote your videos
    Think beyond your website to your Youtube or equivalent channels. Learn how videos need to be posted for optimal boost to your web marketing efforts and learn how to best title them for local pickup in ALL the local places that you want to reach.

    3. Pay-per-click advertising
    Google advertising, display networks, ads in online publications that link to your site—all of these can be locally targeted to whatever distance arc you specify.

    The downside, of course, is that pay-per-click advertising can bankrupt you very quickly. There are so many shifting developments in online advertising opportunities that the old thinking that AdWords only take do-it-yourself knowhow is no longer true. Or, all those “free” and easy services that search engines now provide to create no-muss-no-fuss ad campaigns for you? Well, the story of the fox guarding the hen house should come to mind. Nothing is easy about online advertising. Yes, anyone can set up an ad in mere minutes. Getting a high return-on-investment for your efforts is quite another matter. As a general rule, if your company spends more than $1,500 (approximately £973) for online advertising, it’s well worth your expense to bring outside experts who spend their time keeping up-to-date with daily changes in online advertising opportunities and trends. Even an in-house appointed “expert” will be at a disadvantage because they will have to attempt to do the work that online advertising agencies share as a team.

    In part two of this article we will consider paid listings in directories, the best use of Google Analytics and email marketing. 

    Amy Munice is president of ALM Communications Inc, now also dba Global B2B Communications, a global public relations firm.