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  • Local Search and SMB Paradox

    by Dan DeRoeck on November 19, 2010

    Local search continues to grow at astonishing numbers.  In fact, local search has been appointed Google’s primary target for the immediate future.   They have made it public that their primary focus will be on marketing and implementing tools designed specifically around local search.  And why not, a large majority of searches that take place, have geo-targeted intent.  The major paradigm shift in local search that took place a few weeks ago when Google announced Place Search, is proof in the pudding that there is more in store for the king of search engines.

    So, why has the Small and Medium Size Business (SMB) market been slow to catch this wave?  It seems logical that the SMB market would embrace this new way to reach customers.  I have concluded that it’s attributed to either skepticism or perhaps just a lack of understanding as to the actual opportunity the Internet presents.  I personally think it’s the latter, but for good reason which I’ll explain later.

    First, take a look at the numbers recently released by eMarketer.com – the attitudes and perceptions of US small business customer behavior:

    Local Search Marketing

    A large percentage is made up of “Undecided” (gray colored), when it comes to perceptions of how the customers find their business, product or services.  That means business owners really don’t know where to put their marketing dollar or emphasis.  That’s a problem.

    To fully delve into why the SMB market is slow to react to deploying Internet Marketing as a scalable marketing solution is another topic for another day.  But suffice to say, at the 30,000 foot level, I believe we have two things working against each other that precipitates bad information and misunderstanding.

    First, we have the small business owner busy running their day-to-day operations.  For the most part, they still rely on older and perhaps antiquated methods of advertising and marketing their products and services.  These methods are no longer effective, plain and simple.  The Internet has all but obliterated yellow pages off the map.  Newspapers have nowhere near the readership and market share they once owned, and now local directories are getting pushed out of the market space with the new Place Search.  But, business owners don’t want to hear about Title Tags, Meta Descriptions, link building and Sitemaps.  They don’t care how to construct a proper Title Tag to gain exposure on keywords, and why should they?  They have a business to run!

    Then on the other end, you have the Internet Marketer that perhaps amiss to lay out the facts in a presentable manner for business owners to fully understand.   Oh sure the Internet marketer may have good intentions but soon these well meaning intentions break into technical jargon, that creates confusion, tension and in some cases even resentment on behalf of the business owner.

    Internet marketers need to find a way to gain respect from the small business owners first.  They need to take time to fully understand the business before making any recommendations about their website or marketing approaches.

    Business owners on the other hand should look at this as an opportunity “ripe for the picking.”  They should also look to SEO professionals that will present the facts in a manner that will allow the partnership to flourish.

    Both groups need to find common ground and begin focusing on building business solutions through effective marketing.  Business owners and Internet Marketers may look at things differently, but at the end of the day, they both have the same end goal in mind — drive targeted traffic to increase revenue.

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