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5 Ways to Effectively Market Online in Your Local Market

Search engine marketing is the single most effective way to drive local traffic to your business website. The goal with any SEO program is to get your website to the top of the search results based on keywords of your business and your competitors. When your website dominates Google search results, you can be assured that the SEO strategies you are driving the optimal traffic to your business’ website.

There are four main types of search marketing tactics: natural search optimization, paid clicks or pay-per-click (PPC), local directories, and map marketing. Each of these unique tactics offers different advantages; it is when they are strategically blended together into an SEO plan they yield the best results. A comprehensive marketing strategy that includes all of these elements gives your website significant advantage over your competitors. The end goal is to have multiple listings on the first page of Google, which is when you know you are properly optimized. This ensures that customers seeking the products and services you offer find you first; the more times you appear on the first page of search results, the better chance you have of getting the customers you desire.
Local Directories and Map Marketing
Remember when you used the Yellow Pages to find a local business? It took forever to find the category you needed, and even longer to choose the company to call. Now, people just type their local search parameters into Google or other search engines to quickly and easily find local businesses. More and more consumers each year are turning to the Internet to research companies, products and services, before they buy. Search engine marketing is the key to harnessing the profit power of your local customer base; traditional Yellow Page advertising is expensive and doesn’t drive customers to your website that provides 24×7 information.

A typical search query by a potential customer often looks like this: “Manhattan Italian cuisine restaurant.” In a Google search, the search engine displays a local map of the area and the top 10 listings for restaurants in Manhattan offering Italian cuisine. Submitting a listing for your business to the biggest local search engines is undoubtedly a great way to drive local traffic to your website and to your business location as well, without the cost of paying for pay-per-click advertisements or other expensive off-line advertisements in your target area.

Natural Search Optimization
A natural search, also known as an organic search, mostly looks like a Google search on anything under the sun. Consumers use this to research products, services and companies before they buy. Of course, if your website doesn’t appear on the first page of results, your chances of increasing sales diminishes significantly. Of course Google isn’t the only search engine that consumers use; MSN, Yahoo!, Bing and are important to note as well. Organic searches are the most reliable of all search engine marketing tactics and are the most reasonably priced to implement.

Search engines use automated software called crawlers to comb the billions of websites on the Internet and bring back the most relevant results for a certain query. These crawlers use algorithms that determine the relevance of these websites and their corresponding ranks on the search engine results page. It is for these crawlers that business websites are optimized to using various on-page and off-page SEO techniques. The most common of these is the use of relevant keywords and optimizing website content. Increasing the number of off-page links to your website is also very effective. It should be noted, though, that the algorithms used to evaluate a website change every now and then to prevent business owners from designing their websites to be fully optimized for a Google search but not for the audience.

Paid Search (Pay-Per-Click)
More commonly known as pay-per-click advertising, paid searches are the fastest way to make your business visible to your target market. Unlike a local search and a natural search, though, paid search requires an initial investment, albeit smaller than the investment you put in traditional advertising media, to pay for every time a person clicks on the link to your website. In a Google search, a paid search result appears in the form of an advertisement on the top right side of the natural search results, allowing your users to see you right away instead of having them rifle deep into the search results first.

To succeed in business today, you must have a comprehensive search engine optimization marketing plan. It is not longer just about the number of visitors you receive to your site each day, it is also about the quality of the visitors, and how your website turns them into buyers. When you are ready to expand your customer base, grow your business, and experience greater revenues, it is time to implement an SEO plan that incorporates local search, map marketing, pay-per-click, and organic search to draw potential customers from your service area.

Push Local specializes in online marketing for small businesses.  Our services include search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, map marketing, and local directory submissions. 

The Importance Of Reviews In Google Places

Local small businesses must have a Google Places strategy – just like years past when businesses had a Yellow Pages strategy.  This free service from Google allows business owners to claim their business name and post accurate and relevant business information including address, phone number, website and hours of operation in the proper business category.

An essential part of Google Places is the review section.  This is where current customers leave reviews for businesses.  Analysts have studied Google’s local ranking algorithm, and businesses with the most reviews, move higher up in the Google Places rankings.

Of course, the higher a business is placed in rankings, the more traffic they will receive.  Google Places and Google Maps are integrated to help individuals find the businesses in their communities, or while on the road.  It is essential that businesses optimize their Google Places listing and that the listing be representative of their website. Optimizing the listing must include relevant keywords, but just like content on a website, it cannot be too keyword heavy, or it will be deemed as Spam.

Here are a few hints for optimizing the Google Places listing:

  1. Choose the category selection that best reflects core business
  2. Use keywords responsibly in the description
  3. Double and triple check the accuracy of address, phone number, and website information
  4. Update business hours when they change for holidays
  5. Upload a photo of the front of the building so customers can easily identify the business
  6. Add a Google Place listing for each additional location

When the Google search engine algorithms that rank your website determine a website’s ranking, they use a number of factors, including the number reviews.  Google crawls the web looking for reviews written by customers; both on the Google Places site, as well as external sites including local business directories, Yelp, and more.

Encourage customers to leave reviews on these sites to help businesses increase their visibility and rankings.  One option is to provide customers with the directions on how to leave a review.  These can be mailed to customers on a postcard, emailed, or handed out the physical location; a sample is below:

7 Easy Steps To Review Our Business (“ABC Restoration”)

  1. Visit
  2. Search for business (“ABC Restoration”)
  3. Look for our Google Places listing
  4. Click on “Write a Review”
  5. Honestly rank us be 1 and 5 (5 being the highest)
  6. Write a  review
  7. Click “Publish”

Thank you for your time and effort.  We acknowledge that our success is due to our customers. 

After asking customers to review their business on Google and other third party sites, it is important that they follow-up with comments and responses to the reviews left behind.  A Google Places strategy is not a one-time and done avenue for increasing visibility.  Like all marketing techniques, it requires ongoing massaging and tweaking as needed.  The more reviews that are placed, the better the search engine algorithms will rank the businesses.  Additionally, the more businesses interact with their customers through reviews, the more likely their customers will be to review them again.

When a potential local customer is searching for a business in their area, they turn primarily to Google, and other search engines including Yahoo!, Bing, and others.  The reason more and more are turning to searching on Google is the interactive nature of Google Places together with Google Maps.  It takes the legwork out of finding a local business, the address, and the driving directions on how to get there.  Business owners that are looking for ways to increase internet traffic, must have a comprehensive Google Places strategy in place to manage the content and reviews on their listing.

Push Local specializes in online marketing for small businesses including plumbing contractors.  Our services include search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, map marketing, and local directory submissions.  Some of the organic terms we go after for plumbers include: Oceanside drain cleaning, Oceanside rooter service, fallbrook drain cleaning, and fallbrook rooter service.  Push Local has shown continued success marketing for plumbing contractors with a number of clients currently ranking number one for their targeted organic search terms. 

How to Use Google Places to Drive More Business

Google Places is a powerful tool for local business owners that desire added exposure within their local community.  Think of Google Places as a local business listing service and a mini-marketing campaign, all rolled together.  When coupled with AdWords Express, your local business’ Ad is prominently feature in search results, and a blue pin is indicated on the Google Map for visual reference for your potential customers.

It is worth your time and effort to set up Google Places (and it is free!).

  1. Visit Google Places web page; sign in if you have an account, or create a new account.
  2. To add your business click “List Your Business”
    1. You will need to enter the primary phone number for you business. It will then show what information about your business Google already has.  From here, you can personalize and verify the details.
    2. Add relevant information you want to appear in your listing including physical address, email address, website URL, your business category and the description of your business.

Note:  In your business description it is vital that you include the top keywords for your product or service.  Make it readable and friendly to potential customers; do not write it just for search engine algorithms.

  1. Verify your business listing.  You can choose verification through phone, text or a postcard.  Google requires verification to validate that you are in fact the business owner or approved representative.
  2. Local customers can now find you!

Of course, it is essential that your web presence be optimized for both search engine algorithms and for your potential customers.  Google Places, AdWords, and AdWords Express are only part of the equation to increase revenue; once a visitor comes to your website, it is your responsibility to turn them from visitors to buyers.  Relevant, educational and engaging content on your website not only helps transition potential customers into paying customers, it also helps new customers find you through organic searches.

Google has published a list of quality guidelines to help businesses get the most from their Google Places listing.  These guidelines also standardize the manner in which businesses represent themselves.

Google Places Quality Guidelines

  1. Ownership:  Only business owners or an authorized representative may verify business listings.
  2. Account Email Address:  Use a shared business email account if multiple users will update business listing.
  3. Business Name:  Represent your business exactly as it appears in offline world.
    • Do not include taglines in the Business Name field.
    • Do not include phone numbers or URLs in Business Name field.
    • Do not attempt to manipulate search results by adding extraneous keywords or a description of your business in the Business Name field.
  1.  Business Location:  Use the precise and accurate address for your business.
    • Do not create a listing or place your pin marker at a location where business does not exist.  PO boxes are not accurate physical locations.
    • Do not create more than one listing for each location.
    • Businesses that operate in a service area, as opposed to single location should not create a listing for every city they service.  Designate service areas.
    • If you don’t conduct face-to-fact business at location you must select “Yes, this business serves customers at their locations” under the “Service Areas and Location Settings” and then select “Do not show my business address on my Maps listing” option
    • Businesses with multiple specializations should not create multiple listings to cover specialties.  One listing per practitioner.
    • Do not include information in address lines that are not physical locations.
  1.  Website & PhoneProvide the phone number that connects to your business location and provide website that represents your business location.
    • Use a local phone number.
    • Do not provide phone numbers that redirect or refer users to landing pages or phone numbers other than those of your business.
  1. Categories:  Select at least one category from the list of available categories that most closely relates to your business.
  1. Marketing, Promotions, Contests:  Any promotion, marketing, contests or giveaways should clearly link to the terms of the activity and provide clear guidelines and qualifications.

Google Places is a free service that allows your local customers to find you easily.  Often times it is the first impression they have of your business.  Make sure that your listing accurately reflects and represents your business, your products and services.  When Google Places is used in conjunction with an effective AdWords Express campaign, local customers will be able to easily find you and do business with you.

Push Local specializes in online marketing for small businesses including plumbing contractors.  Our services include search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, map marketing, and local directory submissions.  Some of the organic terms we go after for plumbers include: Oceanside drain cleaning, Oceanside rooter service, fallbrook drain cleaning, and fallbrook rooter service.  Push Local has shown continued success marketing for plumbing contractors with a number of clients currently ranking number one for their targeted organic search terms.