Editor’s Note: This week we welcome the first of a series of guest posts from client side marketers about search marketing. Paul Oâ€™Brien gets things started with a post focusing on how optimizing for local search engines is about more than directory listings and geographic modifiers. Event based local search marketing provides an additional boost in reaching target audiences. Companies like Paul’s current employer, Zvents, provides a platform for this kind of event promotion as well as a local search destination.
Countless SEO guides provide the most important considerations: title tags, keywords, straightforward navigation, and structured content but local optimization requires several unique considerations:
- Directory listings are often alphabetical so write titles with the first letter earliest in the alphabet
- Your address is as important as the name of your business
- Include local parlance: SoMa, West Village, Downtown
- Put your location in the footer of ALL pages
- Build links with local influence as well as authority and relevance
- Use both abbreviations and full names: CA & California, St. & Street
Approximately 63% of U.S. internet users searched for local content in July 2006, a 43% increase from 2005. Local context applies to more than 20% of all queries with users looking for local businesses, news, and information on traditional engines intended for searching the web. With such a demand, according to Borrell Associatesâ€™ Online Local report, online local ad spending has exceeded $7.5 billion, a 32% increase from 2006 (compared to 21% growth in general online advertising). With such demand, though youâ€™ve optimized, are you still missing out?
As important as unlocking the door to your store
Directory listings are more important to local search optimization than website optimization; people actually use SuperPages. Optimizing your site and getting listed in these directories is as critical as unlocking the door to your store so people can enter. More people are going through directories than directly to your website, so ensure your business is listed with:
Now optimized and listed, consider again the impressive growth numbers. Is it logical to conclude that the growth in searches and increase in ad dollars is correlated? No. The growth in local search is a reflection of demand, not only for your business but also for weather, news, and information. Site optimization and those listings help those that know about you find the door but you advertise to draw people in.
Zvents helps you optimize that which draws the consumer.
â€œThis is why you should come inâ€
When you read the newspaper or put down the TiVo and actually watch commercials for local businesses, notice that events are advertised, not the business itself. You donâ€™t just open the door; you put someone on the doorstep saying, â€œThis is why you should come in.â€ Mattress stores to auto body shops advertise Sales while, brands like Williams-Sonoma, Nordstrom, and REI promote grilling demonstrations, fashion shows, and kayaking classes. Financial services and real estate entrepreneurs promote educational series. Restaurants highlight live music and entertainment. Bookstores host celebrity book signings and toddler storytelling. Consider too that not only local businesses can take advantage of this local optimization. Events are ripe for co-branding; Toshiba promoting the release of their new tablet PC at Circuit City to Lexus marketing their Summer Sales Event.
With the exception of a grand opening (which, is also an event), few advertisements promote just the business. So donâ€™t stop with the typical local optimization of business name, address, and listing. The event is where it happens.
Zvents is the local search engine for discovering things to do by connecting people with their favorite interests and events (concerts, fairs, conferences, shopping, sports, etc.). You can search for events, venues, movies, restaurants, or performers. The platform enables businesses to freely add, share, and promote event information which Zvents structures, normalizes, and optimizes, in turn getting events heavily promoted on Google and Yahoo.
Those who list their businesses and local events with Zvents benefit from a free locally targeted announcement of those events, which would otherwise be paid through mass media promotion. Additional benefits include tremendous reach through dozens of sites and papers, web and store traffic, and authoritative links to their site and event pages.
Thatâ€™s local SEO.
Paul O’Brien is currently Director of Marketing for Zvents, was head of interactive marketing for HP Direct and managed advertiser programs at Yahoo! He writes about search and online marketing at seobrien.com.