For the longest time local businesses had the edge in small town U.S.A. Big companies needed big markets to survive and they left the small towns to small businesses. Then one day the concept of the big box retailer arrived. At first they did the same thing as every other big store. They tackled the big cities. And still small businesses in small town had the edge. Then one day big box retailers like Wal-Mart and Target said “hey we can sell to small towns too”. And so they started moving in and small businesses suffered.
Then one day the internet arrived. Big box retailers quickly saw the advantage. We’re big and the internet can make us bigger! Local small businesses didn’t see that same advantage. They said “we’re local and so are our customers, what can the internet do for us”? And then one day things changed. Local search had arrived and small businesses finally had an edge, because they’re local.
If you own a small business then local search marketing can be a real boon to your business. But now is the time to take advantage of it. Because there will soon be a day when the big box guys and other large businesses will turn their marketing budgets to dominating local search marketing too. Wal-Mart as an example does oil changes at many of their locations. But do they promote those locations through local search marketing? Not yet but they may do it sooner than you’d like. Costco sells caskets but that isn’t found through a local search either. But if you own a local furniture store you’re probably already competing with a big chain outfit like Ashley’s Furniture. But is Thomasville on the list too?
Local search marketing for small businesses is still a huge opportunity but it needs to be taken advantage of now. And for the most part it’s not. The rough estimate is that only 11% of small businesses have actually claimed their listings through sites like Google Places, Yahoo Local, and Bing Local. Not to mention the hundred other places like SuperPages.com where your listing can be claimed.
Many small business owners are missing a great opportunity to get seen. 20% of the searches done online today are done by people looking for a local business. They’re searching for a beauty parlor, auto repair shop or just a good place to eat. And these people should be finding you. But if you haven’t claimed your listings then they may be finding your competition instead. So a little local search marketing is helping them but not you. Now might just be the right time to start a local search marketing campaign of your own, don’t you think?