For small businesses, local search is a way to turbocharge the growth of a customer base.  When a person gets on the Internet to look for a butcher, a baker, or a candlestick maker, she wants one down the street or at least in the same city.  As a business owner, you could be missing out on hundreds of prospective customers if you are not positioned to show up in local listings.

How will local listings help me get more customers?

Let’s take a walk in the shoes of our prospective customer, Beth.  Beth is new to the area and needs all the things that a new local needs:  a new hairdresser, a new place to take her dry cleaning, and of course, the hottest local/mobile/social/vegan/indie coffeehouse (pour-over please!).

When Beth drives around town, she takes mental note of the businesses around her neighborhood and along her regular routes.  However, if your business happens to be on a side street she has never driven down, or in a different neighborhood, chances are she will never have heard of you.  But Beth is web savvy and carries a smartphone.  So that means she is going to perform local searches, map searches, and proximity searches.

So now, stepping out of Beth’s shoes and into those of a business owner, let’s see how Beth looks from this perspective:

  • disposable income: check
  • willing to spend money: check
  • web savvy: check

Who on earth would not want Beth to spend money on their business?

How to help Beth find you

A lot of people don’t understand how effective local listings are, because for a long time, the promise of the web was, “Now the little guy can compete on a nationwide scale.”  That promise went somewhat unfulfilled, but the real revolution right under our noses is hyperlocal.  Yes, because now you can catch people and turn them into customers “at the point of intent.”  This is the moment when a person whips out her phone, goes to maps, and types, “sushi.” It’s beautiful because you know where she is and exactly what she is looking for.  It’s like mind reading.  When she is looking for what you offer, you need to be one of the first results that shows up in her local search results.

Where do I go to get listed locally?

I’m so glad you asked! Here are the places that will get you the most effective listings:

Next steps

Fill out those online forms already.  It only takes a minute, and when you fill them out and get listed locally, you can gloat because you know that other coffee shops in your city are NOT taking the time to get on the local listings.  So when Beth, or Ronny, or Bobby, or Ricky, or Mike wants a triple half-caff soy latte-chino at 9 pm, your business will only be a couple swipes away from fulfilling your customer’s intent.  Go local!

Tirrell Payton specializes in SEO, Business Metrics, Analytics, Planning and Modeling. He has extensive experience in tech, software, and mobile, and has won numerous awards in the startup world for his innovation.