The Internet is changing how consumers find local businesses in a profound way.
When the Internet first began to gain prominence as a medium, most people viewed it is a faster means of communicating with other people around the world. It also provided the opportunity to find and share information and data much more quickly.
And the truth is, the Internet has proven to be both of those things and a whole lot more … it has literally transformed how we communicate and how we find information.
When it comes to local businesses, and how consumers find local businesses in their area, the impact of the Internet has been more subtle and has taken longer to evolve.
However, make no mistake, we have reached a point where the Internet is dramatically changing how consumers find local business.
When the Internet was first developed, many thought that only large companies with large advertising budgets would ever be able to effectively utilize what the Internet had to offer. The expectation — and this still persists is many circles — was that the Internet as either a distribution channel or an advertising medium would only ever be a specialty niche.
Few saw it as a particularly viable business model initially because the Internet in its early years simply wasn’t growing fast enough to be able to accommodate the kind of money that big companies could afford to spend.
However, over the past few years things have changed dramatically. With more widespread access to higher bandwidth services, wireless technologies, and extraordinary improvements in technology such as video streaming, the Internet has become a staple of our culture … most of us are now using the Internet and have become very familiar with the ideas of online browsing and searching utilizing online search engines such as Google.
This popularity has afforded many small brick and mortar and even “basement” businesses to suddenly go global. And businesses don’t need to be household names to be able to cash in on the trend … effective search engine marketing techniques enable even the smallest of companies to create a strong — and profitable — online presence in their particular niche.
Even for those businesses which are focused entirely upon their local area, the Internet provides an exciting way to allow more local consumers to find them. One of the most compelling shifts in consumer behavior is the abandonment of the conventional phone book.
Some recent studies suggest as many 80% of consumers now go to their favorite Internet search engine instead of the phone book, as the first tool of choice when searching for a local business or service. And it’s the businesses showing up in the search results that are benefiting from this shift in how consumers find local businesses.
When it comes to building the right sort of online presence designed to help consumers find your local business on the Internet, there are numerous different local Internet marketing strategies that you can employ. And the most effective strategies do more than simply rely upon a single website. Leveraging your website, blog, video, Google Places, and other local directories is a way to improve the chances of your business showing up in the local Internet search results.
The idea is to create a “web” (pun intended 🙂 ) of pages and links that will increase the odds of your local business showing up more than once for a particular local search phrase. So “optimizing” each of these particular elements is part of the key to taking your business to the next level online.
As you will soon discover, there are hundreds or even thousands of local consumers who are looking on the Internet for your product or service. The question becomes … Are you there?
If you are willing to make the effort to improve your online presence and take advantage of how consumers find local businesses, you will begin to discover the power of well designed local Internet marketing when it comes to generating leads and attracting more customers.