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In the past, mass media and traditional print advertising were enough to draw consumers toward a national brand’s local store or service. Today, however, 90 percent of consumers use search engines when researching products or services in their local area (BIA/Kelsey study).
Google appears to have noticed the change in search behavior, and in October, 2010, Google changed its algorithm to display more local businesses in the search results. Google’s local search results are displayed for both geo-targeted search queries such as “Chicago Hotels” and generic search queries such as “Hotels” based on one’s IP address.
Advertisers are taking action and investing more in local online advertising. Borrell Associates forecasts an 18% growth as local online advertising increases from $15.7 billion to $18.5 billion in 2012.
So how can national brands harness the power of local search?
Below is a checklist of 5 core local search strategies national brands should be providing their brick and mortar locations:
1. Data distribution
2. Google Places & Bing business listing optimization
3. Optimized location webpages & mobile location webpages
4. Ratings & review management
5. Performance Tracking and Reporting
A successful local search marketing strategy should incorporate all five of these tactics. Prior to implementation, you should establish a baseline and define success metrics upon execution.