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How Search Engines Help Your Local Business

Jun 25, 2008
The discussion of Search Engines (SE) may sound way off for a local offline business. Infact most will only consider a website if their business goes beyond the country's borders and particularly if they are targeting markets overseas. This explains the content starved brochure like websites developed by most local companies and businesses.

What is not commonly known is that SEs are advanced for local searches. This then means that one can search for information, products or services provided within walking distance of where you live. As of right now, SEs are looking into ways to encourage this kinds of searches as they are seen as the next frontier in the industry.

It is anticipated that you will be able to search for even an obscure thing like "Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary" and find a copy at the local second hand dealer not far away from your home. But for this to happen, the local second hand dealer needs to have a website not only optimized for their products, but also for their local area.

SEs are already designed to tell the difference by the type of results served between, for example, "Brake repair" and "Brake repair Nairobi". Someone searching for the former would often be searching for information on brake repairs. On the other hand, a search specified with a location like the latter is often someone in need of those services within the specified area.

So what does this mean for a local business person? It means having a website is not only a sign of being with the times. A well positioned website has potential to introduce a whole new market to your business you otherwise wouldn't reach. Keeping in mind the cost of hosting and maintaining a website, you should easily make profit.

Secondly, you need to optimize your website to be found for both you products and you local area. This translates to removing those four paragraphs you lifted from the brochures and creating informative content. On the brake repair example above, you could detail on how different braking systems are damaged, to show of your expertise and what you do at your repair shop to correct the damage.

Thirdly, sell you visitors. In the same repair shop example, you could offer a substantial discount if the surfer actually visits your shop at Industrial Area for a brake repair job.

Already some are testing the waters with local online business. And though they might not be getting huge traffic from the still infant local search, it is reassuring for their visitors that they do not have to convince their new found "love" to pay for their flight to physically meet them in France. An affordable cup of coffee at The Stanley will do just fine. That's local search for you.
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