One of the largest groups still ignoring online marketing and SEO are smaller, local businesses and professional services. The irony in this is that they may stand to benefit more than half of the people that are marketing their websites online! More and more people are migrating away from the standard Yellow Pages and searching for businesses online. In fact, some studies report that up to 70% of shoppers begin on the Internet with their favorite search engine; which happens to be Google pulling in 30% of all local searches. There are a few local professions that are very common to be searched for and can be very competitive. If you’re in one of these fields and haven’t begun marketing yourself online (or even worse, don’t have a website), you’re already falling behind.
- Real Estate (Agents, Brokerages, Appraisers, Financial Services)
- Medical Professionals (Doctors, Dentists, Chiropractors)
- Retail (cars, computers, electronics)
- Travel-related (hotels, car rental, airfare, limousines)
- Other local services (dog boarding, kennels, photography, plumber
Having a strong online presence is similar to investing at an early age. The earlier you start, the more effective it will be in the long run. Not to mention that the local search industry is continuing to grow each year and the number of people searching for local businesses and services is only going to grow. Search engine optimization (SEO) is not a one-time process. It is an on-going effort but once your initial campaign is complete, it’s fairly low maintenance. Local businesses need to shed the idea that they don’t need a website if they aren’t selling products online. By participating in online marketing and SEO now, you are jumping in one of the the most effective advertising methods. Print ads, flyers and mailers continue to be less and less effective as people recognize them as junk mail.
One issue many small businesses face is incorporating a new marketing channel into their budget. SEO firms can be a little on the expensive side. There are some lower cost alternatives including some independent SEO consultants who can offer services for less or going the do-it-yourself route. Either way, the important part is to get started now and make your online presence known in your local market.