The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Friday Guest Blog: Marketing for Local Businesses


By Steve Prescott - Director, Square Pear Design and Marketing

“There are some interesting statistics flying around the Internet and trends that local businesses should take notice of:


• At the end of September 2009, there were over 418 million people worldwide with Internet access (over 52% of the total population of Europe). This compares to 105 million users in 2000 - growth of 298%.


• Total UK online population stands at 46million (UKOM, September 2010).


• 64% of C-level executives conduct six or more searches per day to locate business information (Google, Forbes, BtoB, June 2009).


• 74% of Internet users perform local searches (The Kelsey Group).


It’s clear that the Internet is still growing in prominence and the amount of local search terms coming through Google, Yahoo and Bing is growing. In this blog, I’m going to specifically concentrate on Google Places because Google has 91% of the UK search engine traffic.

Google has just integrated its new Google Places / Maps page on the front page of Google for most business industry searches. This means the standard local business can now compete for front page Google listings and connect with local customers for the market they are operating in.
There is data to back up that a customer looking for a local provider will type in a location after their keyword. For example: "Accountants in Bolton”.


So, how do you get to rank highly in Google Places?


Firstly, claim your page. The first action any business needs to take is to check that you claim your places page. The majority of businesses don't know Google has created one for them and that they are missing out on free traffic. If your listing doesn't say ‘verified listing’ but says 'business owner', you need to take action!!


Secondly, make sure your places listing is 100% complete. This is where lots of companies fall down. The places page needs all the correct information and your listing needs to be filled out completely. Complete listings get priority on rankings so it’s important to do this.


Thirdly, get some reviews. What your customers think and say about you is important and Google seems to think so too. It’s important that you get at least 5 reviews as a minimum from your clients and get them on Google Places, Yelp, Qype, etc. Google looks to these reviews in the ranking process; the more reviews you have the better. In addition, it builds trust with a potential client.


Finally, think about citations. Where your business is mentioned on other directories and places on the Internet is essential. Google also involves this in the ranking process, and you need to make sure that the numbers and all address details match up.


So why is all this important? Google Places has a prominent place on the front page of the Google search engine now for your keywords. Your potential customers are seeing listings from your competitors.


The increase in the use of mobile phones for Internet browsing is on the increase and is one of the large trends of 2011. Customers look for a service provider to call from their iphone.
Everyone has their phone on them these days probably more so than taking their wallet. Google Places sets you up for the mobile Internet without having to create an iphone app to reach your potential customers.


And finally a warning: Google has a set of best practices to follow to optimise your listings. If you try to cut corners or do this incorrectly it could harm your listing.”


For advice or a free consultation, call Steve on 01204 265002, or for more information, visit http://www.squarepeardesign.co.uk/

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