Recently by Brian Coryat

3 out of 5 searches are conducted on a mobile device*.

When it comes to being found by local consumers, mobile visibility is quickly becoming nearly as essential for a local business as having a business phone number.

The small screen size means a business has to show up among the top listings for its particular product or service, or risk never being found by their local customers using their mobile devices.

Getting the basics right is where businesses need to invest their efforts--from mobile optimized local landing pages, to verified business profiles across search, social, directory sites and mobile apps.

Join us on October 10th for our webinar where we will be discussing the importance of having a local mobile presence and the key differences for national brands and SMBs.

Register via Local Search Association.

In the early days of the commercialized Web, the idea that you could purchase goods and services from providers anywhere in the world using your personal computer was exciting and irresistible. But as the Internet has evolved and the search experience has advanced, consumers have become increasingly focused on their local world when looking online for products and services.

From desktop to smartphone to tablet, local search intent is strong, with one in three searches having local intent, according to Google.

For businesses with multiple locations--whether national brands, regional chains or small businesses with more than one location--finding a way to capitalize on local search intent is critical.

Research shows that 49% of local searches are conducted without a specific brand in mind, and 61% of searchers consider local results to be more relevant than standard search results.*

Even if you are successful in appearing in local searches, if you don't point consumers to a landing page with relevant local content, you will lose them along the path to purchase.

Separate landing pages, rich with relevant content and keywords, will help you engage local consumers. These landing pages will not only help local consumers find you more easily, they will increase the chances consumers will conclude their purchase journey with you.

Here are just a four reasons why deploying individual local landing pages is a smart move for your multiple location business:

1. Hyperlocal presence - be seen where your consumers are searching. With separate landing pages containing location-specific content and keywords, you can dominate hyperlocal searches in more than one city, town or neighborhood.

2. Increased brand awareness through visibility across multiple markets. Make full use of online and mobile search portals, directories, aggregators and review sites. Your business will stay in front of the consumer, creating constant visibility and market saturation.

3. Enhanced, relevant content draws local consumer attention. Increase your findability in local searches by ensuring the consistency of your information and the inclusion of enhanced content like location-specific website links, hours of operation, logos and other images.

Consumers are more likely to click on a local search result for your business that includes an image. What's more, your business will show up in image searches, increasing your overall search visibility.

4. Express your local personality. More than one-third of smartphone users are looking specifically for retailer contact details such as phone number, address and directions (source: The Mobile Path to Purchase).

Separate landing pages enable you to add specific information about each business location (e.g., local phone number, local address, cross streets and directions, special products and services offered by the location, other details specific to the location), helping a consumer see you as a truly local business.

Conclusion

Ultimately, if your business--whether a national brand or SMB--has multiple locations, you are a local business.

You need to focus on the needs of your local consumers across the cities, towns and neighborhoods you serve.

And that begins with helping your customers find you and quickly identify you as a local business that can fulfill their needs.

Separate landing pages for each of your locations will help you establish your local presence in the minds of local customers.

From there, it's up to you to win their hearts and their business.

* Resource.com

For more useful advice on local search, read more of Brian Coryat.

Mobile search has fast become consumers' preferred method when searching for local businesses.

In fact, 50% of Google mobile searches are local. The data is clear--mobile search is surging as desktop search continues to decline.

Having a mobile optimized website is now a must for local businesses that want to be found by the millions of local consumers who are routinely conducting mobile local searches from their smartphones and tablets. Mobile optimization--and the related building blocks of local SEO--is nearly as essential for a local business as having a business phone number.

And yet, most small and medium-sized businesses, many of which are local businesses, are not well positioned to be found by mobile searchers. According to data from SMB DigitalScape, 94.5 percent of U.S. SMB websites are not mobile optimized.

It's time for local businesses to get serious about mobile, or risk losing ground to mobile-ready competitors.

1. Is Mobile Really So Important for My Local Business?

Among the advantages of mobile search is that it's newer; therefore mobile search results are a lot less cluttered than desktop search results. This lack of competition in the results gives a local businesses even greater visibility in searches.

If that doesn't offer sufficient motivation to start thinking seriously about mobile, there's a growing mountain of data to support the urgency to get mobile optimized...now.

Consider that:

  • Mobile searchers convert faster, with 55% responding within one hour of a search. ***
  • Mobile optimized websites have 11.5 percent higher click-through rates. *
  • 25% of mobile users who search for a local business make an in-store purchase. **
  • 49% of mobile users who search for a local business location search for it on a map. **
  • One out of three smartphone users search specifically for contact information, such as phone numbers, maps and driving directions. ****

2. I'm Mobile Optimized, But I'm Still Not Showing Up in Mobile Searches

Optimizing a website for mobile devices is only one piece of a local business' mobile strategy. The smaller screen size means a business has to show up among the top listings for its particular product or service, otherwise the customer will never see the business' listing. Therefore, search engine optimization is a critical component for visibility in mobile searches.

Local businesses must ensure they not only claim their online business listings, they must also make sure their basic business information - name, address, phone number - is accurate and consistent, everywhere it appears online.

3. Where's My Google Map Pin?

Local search is broken on most major directory apps. For example, when performing a local search on Google, your business may not show up - even if you are standing inside your business location.

Once again, to show up on the Google map in a local search, you need to make sure your business listing is claimed, the data is accurate and the location pin is in the correct place.

So, Just Do It

Smartphones have clearly changed the way we perform everyday tasks.

For local businesses, mobile is no longer something to push off until next year. If you want to remain competitive in your local marketplace, your business has to be visible to the growing number of mobile local consumers.

Move local SEO and mobile website optimization to the top of your to do list. And just do it.

* Google-Nielsen Study

** Startapp

*** Google Smartphone Study

**** Mobile Path to Purchase Study by Telmetrics and xAd

Local Market Launch today introduced a local visibility audit tool that enables national brands and multi-location businesses to gauge the local online presence (across search, local directories, and social media) of all their locations--whether they have two, hundreds or even thousands of locations.

Until now, managing the local online presence of multiple locations has been a resource-intensive undertaking for national and regional brands, often yielding mediocre results.

Our new tool allows brands to efficiently identify locations with underperforming aspects of online presence, such as inconsistent or incomplete business listing information in online directories, a factor that can diminish a location's findability in online and mobile searches.

Manual approaches to managing the ever-increasing number of digital channels that publish local business information are simply ineffective.

Our new local visibility audit tool enables multi-location businesses to get a handle on local online presence, control brand assets across their organization, and ultimately help increase traffic to their local operations. We look forward to introducing our new tool to attendees of next week's Street Fight Summit West.

Distinguishing features of the tool include:

  • Ability to input a business location phone number and view associated directory listings in real time
  • Widgetized for easy sharing of the same functionality with another website
  • Ability for multiple businesses with the same name (e.g., Rusty's), or for businesses that can't be found with their phone number (e.g., new           businesses) to be found
  • Currently actively scans the top 25-plus directory websites, with additional directory sites continuing to be integrated into the tool
  • "A select group of agency partners have been using the tool in beta release with their national brand clients to review their local online visibility across search, local directories, and social media," said Jeff Hoyer, VP of sales, Local Market Launch. "Feedback indicates it is a compelling pre-sales tool that agencies and resellers can use to effectively demonstrate the overall value of our business listings and reputation management solutions."

Local Market Launch will showcase the new tool and the company's full range of local online presence solutions for SMBs, franchisees and multi-location businesses, as a sponsor of next week's Street Fight Summit West, which takes place June 4, at the Bentley Reserve, in Downtown San Francisco.

Local Market Launch's Coryat will take to the conference stage to introduce a panel discussion titled, "How Mobile Analytics and Mapping are Transforming Local," featuring Street Fight columnist Matt Sokoloff.

On the eve of the conference, Monday, June 3, Local Market Launch will host an invitation-only wine tasting event offering conference attendees "A Taste of Santa Barbara" and the opportunity to jumpstart the networking with their peers in the hyperlocal industry. To request an invitation to the event, contact Angela Tan at angela(at)localmarketlaunch(dot)com.

Inevitably, the path to purchase has become much more complex with the advancement of digital media.

While buyers once heavily relied on word of mouth recommendations, they now have a proliferating number of channels to research and evaluate who or where to buy from.

This is especially confusing for business owners, who must adapt to all the directories, social media sites, and apps that people are using to find local businesses.

Considering the kind of decisions consumers are making and how they are making them, we've architected an infographic to map out the many stops on the path to a final purchase.

digital-path-to-purchase-infographic-copy.jpg

Just wanted to bring to your attention the new funding that we have received, and how we will use it.

"Business listings management startup Local Market Launch, launched in 2012 by ValueClick founder Brian Coryat, has secured $1.5 million in Series A funding from Rincon Venture Partners, adding to $1.2 million of founder contributed seed funds, bringing total capital raised to $2.7 million.

The funds will be used to support rising demand for Local Market Launch's local presence solutions by multi-location national brands and small and medium-sized businesses. Local Market Launch will also accelerate development and delivery of its partner-branded solutions for local media channel partners.

A recent study by Google/Nielsen revealed that 73 percent of mobile searches trigger additional action and conversions, such as store visits, calls and purchases.

Accurate business listing information is the unassuming workhorse underlying much of today's local commerce, which is being driven by mobile and online search.

"Despite the digital revolution of the past 20 years, many businesses, especially small local establishments, have largely been left behind," said John Greathouse, general partner, Rincon Venture Partners.

"As such, there is a tremendous opportunity for Local Market Launch to become the trusted business listings management partner for the world's small, local businesses, and for national brands targeting locally.

When Brian founded ValueClick, he ingrained in the organization the principles of over-delivering value to its customers by consistently developing killer technology and providing unparalleled service.

We believe that Local Market Launch will likewise achieve market dominance by following this simple, but difficult to execute, strategy."

Coryat founded Local Market Launch to raise the level of quality in business listings data and service. He brings rich experience earned at the forefront of the Internet marketing industry, where he has led several successful ventures, including online advertising company ValueClick, for which he was awarded the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2000 for ecommerce.

"It's time to take business listings management to a new level of accuracy and trust, and Local Market Launch is committed to raising the bar," said Coryat. "We're excited by the tremendous interest we're receiving from national brands, multi-location businesses and franchises, as well as channel partners, and we're truly gratified by Rincon Venture Partners' confidence in our technology and our vision for the company.

With their backing, we will be able to accelerate our growth and fulfill our mission, which is grounded in our commitment to the highest quality standards for our data and customer service."

About Local Market Launch

Local Market Launch delivers next-generation business listings management and local presence solutions for national brands, multi-location businesses and franchises, and local SMBs through a growing network of channel partners, including directory publishers, newspaper publishers, broadcast media companies, digital media agencies and certified marketing representatives (CMRs).

The company is driving new standards of quality and service through a hybrid approach to business listings management that combines the best of DIY technology with the quality-controlled ease of a do-it-for-you solution.

Learn more at www.localmarketlaunch.com,www.localsearchoptimization.com, on Twitter @LocalLaunch and @LocalSearchOpt, Facebook https://www.facebook.com/localmarketlaunch and Google+.

In a recent study by the CMO Council, in partnership with Balihoo, 59 percent of national brand CMOs surveyed said localized marketing is essential to the growth and profitability of their business.

Yet only 7 percent of the brands believe they have "highly evolved campaigns and measurements in place to activate customers at the local level."

A number of factors--from budget constraints and lack of resources (43 percent cited lack of resources and bandwidth to coordinate with multiple regions, local marketers, partners and agencies), to the desire to tightly control brand assets in local marketing campaigns--have hampered the local marketing aspirations of national brands.

Local Marketing Automation

One of the keys to overcoming these challenges lies in the adoption of local marketing automation technologies.

The CMO Council study revealed 94 percent of brands currently use primarily manual methods to track compliance and application of their brands at the local level.

Manual approaches are simply no match for the ever-increasing number of digital channels publishing local business information today.

It seems that national brands recognize this, as 30 percent of the CMOs surveyed said they intend to invest in local marketing automation technologies to overcome their bandwidth, budget and brand asset control issues.

Local Presence for National Brands

One area of local marketing automation that addresses branding objectives and helps drive local traffic for national brands is business listings management.

An important first step for national marketers targeting locally is to ensure their local partners and affiliates can be found in local online and mobile searches.

Syndication and publication of consistent and enhanced business listings of local partners will go a long way toward helping national brands increase their local findability.

What's more, the increased traffic resulting from national brands' local business listings management efforts, should help brands win the hearts and minds of their local partners, making them more inclined to support additional local marketing initiatives.

When it comes to considering the use of call tracking numbers and their impact on local search and business listings information, local search optimization practitioners should take a page from the Hippocratic Oath, and "first, do no harm."

Search marketing specialist Christopher Sheehy of SEO provider Sidewalk Branding recently wrote,

"Businesses tell me all the time how difficult it is for them to know what marketing tactics work and which ones don't - what tools or services would be good for them, and what's going to hurt them.

So when a client was asking me about [call tracking] services recently - I went directly to the source and sent them the following excerpt from Google to answer their question.

"'You should only provide the phone number for the location of the actual local business. Types of phone numbers that should not be included are: call tracking numbers and phone numbers that are not specific to a business location [source].'"

As Sheehy observed, Google clearly discourages the use of call tracking numbers.

The reason is, phone numbers, along with business name and address, are the most important pieces of local search optimization data used by search engines to authenticate a local business.

Sheehy explains, "When the phone number is replaced with a generic number that is not consistent with the local standards - they lose that vital component of authentication.

Other SEO experts agree about the importance of a business' name, address and phone number.

As respected local SEO expert David Mihm advises, "Think of them as your business' thumbprint."

Consistency in your business thumbprint leads to confidence in your business information, which increases the likelihood search engines will rank you, increasing your online "findability."

As Mihm affirms, "Maintaining absolute consistency with your business information is the key to a successful long-term local SEO strategy."

The bottom line is that you must protect the authenticity of your business thumbprint. Steer clear of service providers that recommend publishing call tracking numbers as part of your business listings. They are a good tool for some companies. But they are harmful to businesses that rely on the core business listing details that authenticate their local attributes.

Work with a trusted local search optimization service provider that can bring your online business information up to best practice standards and effectively monitor and manage your business listings going forward, giving you the assurance that you can easily be found online by existing and prospective customers.

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Or, for more information on the Franchise-Info Business Directory, call Joe at 1-443-502-2636 or email Joe direct [email protected]

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