There are a lot of Internet marketing strategies, and most of them apply to only some kinds of businesses. That’s one reason that hiring an Internet marketing agency, rather than trying to establish your online presence on your own, can result in a higher return on investment; it’s not simply about putting your business online, but putting it online in the most effective ways.
However, there’s one strategy that’s nearly universally applicable: search engine optimization. If you run a brick-and-mortar business, you may have neglected this aspect of your marketing, thinking that SEO only applies to e-commerce sites. But in reality, SEO is extremely important for driving local, in-person business. People search online (from their smartphones, especially) for the businesses they want to find offline. But local SEO differs from traditional SEO in a number of ways. Here are the three factors that most affect local Internet marketing efforts:
Imagine that you want to find an ice cream shop in a nearby city, so you ask 10 people you know where it is. Essentially, that’s how search engines work; they find “citations” (instances of your business information) online. If those 10 people agree on where a shop is, you’re more likely to go there, right? Just as in real life, the more consistent those citations are, the more confident the search engine will be in displaying those results. This is why it’s important that you keep every citation of your NAP — name, address and phone number — exactly the same and up to date. (Because it can be time consuming to track down and correct citations, people often hire an Internet marketing agency or specialized local SEO company to do this for them.)
Search engines also take into account how reliable or recent a source is when deciding what results to display. Just as you would probably trust information more from someone who had just gone to that ice cream shop yesterday than you would from someone who had vague information from several years ago, search engines will prioritize information from recent tweets or authorized accounts.
The final major factor in SEO is quantity. If you ask two people and they agree on where the ice cream shop is, you may still have some doubts. At 10 people, you can be pretty sure. At 25, you’re probably loading up the family car and heading into the city for ice cream. The more identical citations a search engine finds for a business, the more confident it can be in showing that information to its users.
Do you have any advice to share on choosing an Internet marketing agency who can handle local SEO efforts? Join the discussion in the comments.