Optimizing for local search engines


What is a local search engine?

Local search engine refers to online yellow pages and specially designed algorithm by likes of MSN*, Yahoo, Google and AOL.com to return results in a geographical area. Take for example Google Maps, on this service you can type in an exact location or just general keywords for a service offered, i.e. Used Car Dealers, Ames, Iowa. Try it for your business, if you do not come up under the expected keywords; you need to optimize your business profile.

Who are the major players?

  • Yellowpages.com, SupperPages.com, SmartPages.com
  • Google Local
  • Yahoo Local
  • MSN Local
  • TrueLocal

What can I do?

There are two distinct methods by which your dealership could take advantage of this new opportunity.

  • Organic/Natural Optimization
  • Pay – Per - Click

Organic/Natural Optimization

The strategy involves:

  • Updating the data source
  • Enhancing your dealerships profile
  • Monitoring dealership reviews

Updating the data source

Most local search engines pull there data from providers like InfoUSA and Acxiom. As a business you must make sure that these database contain accurate and up-to-date information. Making changes to this data isn't difficult. To update your profile on InfoUSA please visit http://list.infousa.com.

Most local search engines provide means for you directly update there data online, look for "Update Your Profile" in the footer of these search engine web sites.

Enhancing your dealerships profile

Before beginning your optimization take a breather and profile your business. Write a one 350 character paragraph that accurately describes your business and your location but keep it simple and readable. Try to input as many different keywords as you can into the profile.

Know the categories you want to target before hand. Google Local offers you to be included in five categories at most so choose them wisely. Theses categories are kind of like keywords a user might input to locate your business. To get keywords and alternatives you can use the Google Keyword tool located at:

Have your hours of operations listed on your web site, include payment methods accepted and make sure your mailing address is listed on your web site. As Google and TrueLocal can pick up that data.

Monitoring dealership reviews

Pay attention to opinion published about your dealership. Keep an eye on CitySearch.com, Yahoo Local Reviews, DealerRater.com, LemonFree.com and others. These reviews can affect your business's reputation. Setup Google Alerts to inform you whenever you dealership is mentioned online. Don't get blind sided by bad reviews. Proactively solicit reviews from your customers to improve your business reputation, rank, and content quality with in local search engines.

Pay – Per - Click

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) inclusion refers to a fee based listing on local search engines. PPC listings are typically served at the top of results pages giving your business the opportunity to be in a premium spot above the rest of the listings and to be listed for searches for your competitors.

Unlike tradition advertising and most forms of online advertising messages are broadcast to general audience; PPC ads are shown only to people who indicate and interest in a specific topic in a geographical area. PPC model of advertising is both effective and compelling, since you as business owner can advertise only to people who indicate interest, at the exact moment that they indicate their interest. That’s the magic moment for you as advertiser.

You as advertiser only pay when a customer clicks on your ad. If your ad appears 50 times and receive five clicks, you only pay for those five clicks. With PPC you enjoy a tremendous level of control over your costs. You can set a maximum daily budget and specific amounts you are willing to pay per click. Most PPC services provide free conversion tracking and online reporting, you get customizable reports that continuously track your sales conversion and return on investment. These reports can also be emailed automatically on a regular basis. Giving you full controls over your campaign spend and clear insight into performance.

To get started with PPC see following websites or contact us at 515-232-2024.

  • Google AdWords (http://adwords.google.com)
  • Yahoo Search Marketing (http://searchmarketing.yahoo.com/)

* For MSN one would not really call there local search a search engine, it is out of beta but still lacks in functionality.

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