Small Business

Can Customers Find You? Getting Started with Local Search

Do you remember when you would “let your fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages?”

In the past, when consumers would need to purchase products or services, they would turn for help to the Yellow Pages.  In fact, your business may have even had a display ad in the telephone directory to try to capture these opportunities.


I worked for the Yellow Pages.  At the time, I thought it would be a great way to express my marketing creativity and utilize my skills to help our customers differentiate themselves from their competition.  But my boss really didn’t care.  All that he was interested in was my ability to “move real estate.”  That meant, if you had a quarter page display ad, he wanted me to bump you up to a half page ad.  If you had a half page ad, I needed to sell you a full page advertisement.  He didn’t really care what was in that ad, which is why most of the ads in our book looked exactly the same and didn’t get the optimal results we could have for our customers.

Local search – the “new” Yellow Pages

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Today, 97% of consumers search for a local business online, which is known as “local search.”

Here is a test you may want to try: 

Assume that you are a consumer in your city or town looking for information about a product or service you sell.  Go to Google and type the name of that product or service.  (Go ahead, we’ll wait!)  Where does your business appear in the search engine results?

Why is it important to be placed well among the Google results?

The top three Google results get almost 80% of the clicks, according to a Cornell University study.  Almost 90% of clicks come from the first page of Google results, according to an Enquisite study.

In fact, I will ask my audiences, “What will we do instead of going to the second page of a Google search?”  Invariably, they will reply, “Do another search – with different keywords.”

How to score well in local search

Your business can be among the first search engine results if you create a free Google Places for Business listing.  Less than 10% of businesses have done this.  For instance, according to a Progressive Insurance survey, even three out of four independent insurance agencies (who you would think would be heavily dependent upon local clients for existence) still haven’t taken advantage of local search.

Why should you sign up your business for a Google Places for Business listing?

When you sign up for a Google Places for Business listing, the benefits include:

  • Prospects and customers can find your physical address, phone number and Website and a lot more information about the business quickly and easily.
  • Mobile phone users can find this information fast without using a computer.  (Smartphones now outsell personal computers.)
  • Adding reviews to your Google Places for Business listing can help it move up in the search engine rankings.

How can you create a free Google Places for Business listing?

Click here.

What’s next with local search?

Now that you have claimed your free local listing on Google Places for Business, visit, which will check your current listings and help you claim them with other major search engines like Yahoo and Bing (that combined have about the other third of the search engine market that Google doesn’t). You can also set up a free listing on

Why take advantage of local search?

Matthew Marko, a Marketing Process Manager for Progressive Insurance, says that free local search is “the best Web marketing strategy you’ve never heard.”  Local search can give your business excellent visibility at the same exact moment consumers are looking for your product or service.

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