SCORE Small Business Blog

If You’re Not Investing in Local Search, Your Business Is Losing Out

You know you need a business website—and most likely, you already have one. But are you taking all the necessary steps to ensure that customers can find you when they do an online search?

The explosion of mobile devices in the last several years, led by the growing use of smartphones and the launch of the latest iPad, has changed the search game. Now more than ever, consumers are using mobile devices to search for businesses when they’re out and about.

If you think a small, local business like yours doesn’t have to worry about Internet searches, you’re wrong. A recent AT&T Interactive study, reported in eMarketer, found the top categories consumers search for most (on PCs and on mobile devices) are as follows:

  1. Restaurants
  2. Auto repair & services
  3. Financial services
  4. Real estate
  5. Physicians
  6. Beauty services
  7. Legal services
  8. Building contractors
  9. Auto parts and supplies
  10. Lodging

With the exception of #5 and 10 above, all of these industries are packed with—indeed, dominated by—small businesses. So if people searching for Auto Repair, for instance, don’t find your shop, you’re losing out.

What can you do about it? First, make sure your business is listed on major and local search engines, rating and review sites, including Google Places, Yelp, and any websites that are important in your community and/or industry.

Next, make sure your listings are accurate and consistent, with key information such as your address, phone number, website, hours of operation and anything else customers might need to decide whether to visit you or not.

Mobile search is becoming more important, so you’ll also want to make sure your website is optimized for viewing on multiple mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets. Your site needs to be simple and quick to load or consumers will click away.

eMarketer notes that national brands are increasingly using local search to connect with customers when they’re ready to buy. If you don’t start doing the same, your business could be left behind.

Intimidated by it all? You don’t have to be. SCORE offers online and offline workshops to help you make the most from your website and use search marketing effectively. Visit SCORE’s website to learn more and get connected with a mentor who can get you up to speed.

Rieva LesonskyCEO, GrowBiz Media
Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. | @rieva | More from Rieva

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