Picture the scene- you’re sent on a business trip to Manchester and you’re tired and hungry.
All you want to do is stop the world for a while and get off. You don’t know the locale, but you really fancy a pizza. So you key in pizza –Manchester on your mobile and check out the website of the first few entries on the local search engine, and maybe check out a few reviews on Facebook. You turn left as recommended, have a lovely meal, and return to your hotel replete and satisfied. Job done.
Now picture this scene. You run a local pizza restaurant in Manchester and struggle to attract passing interest. Your food’s as good as anyone else’s, in fact, probably better and certainly cheaper. You advertise in the local papers and always keep your Yellow Pages subscription up to date: you’ve even gone to the trouble of creating a website that’s both informative and helpful, yet it’s always your rival round the corner who bags all the passing trade. Why is that? Why do punters always turn left, when they should’ve just carried on straight to your place?
The answer’s pretty simple really: it’s all related to local search. I know you’re probably thinking – on no, not that old chestnut again?
Well, I’m sorry, I know I maybe bang on about it, but I make no apologies. If you’re a local business and you want to increase your market share, then you really need to optimise your website. You may own the best restaurant in Manchester and produce food that would have Gordon Ramsey salivating, but if people don’t know you’re there, then you really are on a hiding to nothing.
So is there any easy way to achieve this and make sure you’re a match for the competition? In short, no: it requires effort and commitment, but most things in life do. Recent American research has suggested that 97% of users prefer the internet for shopping: of those, 80% spend their budgets within 50 miles of home. Moreover, 61% of all local searches result in a purchase. Now I know your probably dismissive because these are American findings, but in truth, where America leads we tend to follow. UK research backs these figures up to a large extent and has proved conclusively that the majority of customers now prefer to use the internet or local search in preference to phone books when looking for goods or services.
What’s the moral to this story then? Well, that’s even simpler. Embrace local search.
If you haven’t done it yet, then give it a go because it will pay dividends. Get your business listed on Google, Bing and Yahoo, and even think about setting up a social profile on Facebook or Twitter or both. If your website’s looking a little weary, give it a spring clean and make sure the storefront gives all the information any potential customer could ever want or need. You could even try blogging. Every little helps. Successful businesses don’t create themselves: you have to have drive and be prepared to take some risks now and again. What was it Del Boy said – he who dares Rodney: he who dares?