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As consumers spend more time online, businesses are naturally reacting by spending more of their budgets on online marketing. In fact, over one-third of all marketing budgets are spent online, up considerably since 2014 when it was less than 25%. By 2019, over $100B is expected to be spent on digital marketing, nearly half of that in paid search. So how should you allocate your online marketing budget?
Search is Becoming Increasingly Local
The first thing to keep in mind is that roughly half of all mobile searches have local intent. One example of this is the doubling of the use of the phrase “near me” after a search. You must do two things with local marketing in order to come up in those searches: make sure your content is locally relevant, and be where your customers are looking.
Locally-relevant content may mention the town you’re in, a well-known landmark that you’re right down the street from, or even the county or region that you serve. Retail and restaurants are most impacted by this sort of search, because nearly all are done on mobile devices and with immediate intent. Customers use tools like Yelp, Open Table, TripAdvisor and Google Maps often to find stores, services and restaurants. You should make sure you’re listed accurately on any applicable websites or apps. If the site allows for reviews or ratings, how do you stack up against the competition? If you don’t have reviews, start asking!
Is Your Site User-Friendly?
Today, “user-friendly” is often synonymous with mobile-responsive. If your site isn’t mobile-responsive, you should devote as much of your marketing budget as necessary to make it so. Sites that aren’t mobile-responsive now rarely show up in local mobile searches. If your site is mobile-responsive, is your information clear and your site easy to use? Features like a click-to-call button, directions link, and discounts for mentioning you were “found online” entice users to call or visit. Consider videos, click-to-chat and click-to-call back buttons as well.
What Can You Do to Be Found in Local Search?
If you offer a completely user-friendly experience but aren’t seen, it doesn’t matter how great your site is! In order to compete, you need to increase your number of locally-oriented content pages. This can be done through geo-based pages and through blogging. Your locally-based content should focus on non-branded keywords. Take advantage of local marketing opportunities like community festivals, street fairs and markets. Blog about your involvement in them and advertise on those sites if there is the opportunity. This can boost your local presence, both through content and backlinks. Consider investing part of your online advertising budget in the sites that your consumers spend the most time on. If you don’t know where that is, start asking.
Where Should You Spend Your Local Marketing Budget?
Every industry is different and, to some extent, every local market is different. You want to be where your audience is looking. At times, that means organic search results, so blogging or allocating some of your budget to paying someone to blog will benefit you. Other times, it means paying for search results on sites like Yelp, Google and local sites with traffic that matches your target audience.
Local online marketing can be challenging for a small business owner. If you are struggling to find the right channels, consider working with a local marketing company that can guide you through the competitive – and often expensive – online world.