Local Search: Strategies for Driving Foot Traffic

Lauren Owens - October 8, 2014

The digital ad ecosystem offers a slew of opportunities for local businesses to find, target, and connect with local customers. And, because the goal is driving foot traffic – not web traffic – you don’t even need a website to take advantage of most of these opportunities.

Following are some of the best local search strategies to take advantage of now, whether you have a website or not.

(Geo)Targeting the Local Audience

All ad platforms, including Google AdWords, offer some form of Geotargeting. Depending on the platform, you can tailor your ads to target users based on zip code, city, or even a radius around a location. In AdWords, for example, if you only want to target users within a mile of your business, you can do that.

Optimize Your Search Ads for Locals

One of the best ways to drive foot traffic is to make it easy for customers to connect with you. You can do this by running ads that include location extensions, which include your address, phone number (with click-to-call functionality) and a map marker with your ad text.

Optimize Your Google+ Local Page

Google is continuously updating the way their content appears for users. The latest iteration is the local knowledge graph, which pulls content from various review sites, including Google+ Local pages. To optimize your Google+ Local page, include updated location information and attractive images. Encourage user reviews by actively posting on your Google+ Local page.

Take Control of Your Review Pages

Just because review pages are crowd-sourced doesn’t mean you don’t have a say in how your brand appears. Most review sites, such as Yelp, enable business owners to “unlock” their pages, adding images, descriptions and other helpful information. Learn more here.

Don’t Forget Social

No local search strategy would be complete without social media pages that are optimized for the local audience.

  • Optimize your social pages with location and other pertinent information.
  • Make sure your Facebook page is listed as a “Local Business or Place.” This way, you can take advantage of Facebook Nearby.
  • Encourage reviews, likes, and check-ins so that your business gets greater visibility.
  • Connect with local influencers via Twitter.
  • Share information frequently. This can be as easy as posting images of your “specials” board, or sharing pictures of new products.

The opportunities may seem endless, so start small: Take control of your digital presence by optimizing your social pages and claiming your review pages.

Then, consider your purpose. Do you want to drive foot traffic today? Then run ads. Do you want to become known as the place in your city for your product or service? Then run ads, and turn your social game way up – posting frequently and connecting with local influencers.

The sooner you start, the sooner you can welcome new customers into your business.

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