Local Search Engine Marketing and Business Cards
How hard is it to get up to the top of the charts for local searches? Interesting question.
I have been helping a local printer with this question for a few months now. When we started, his site was just starting to show up on the search engines. 2 months later, it’s starting to crawl up bit by bit, but traction takes 6-8 months if past experience is any indicator. In this note I’ll take you through some of the things that Chris and I have been working on.
The first thing we did was take a measurement on what organic traffic was coming in on day 1. His business, like most of our businesses, is powered by word of mouth. Years of providing great customer service and helping people solve their printing problems led to most of his organic (non-direct) traffic coming from keywords that are business specific. Customers and referrals looking for contact information by typing in “Dayspring Printing” into the search engines.
Here’s a snapshot of the data.
The first thing we noticed was that over 1/2 the results didn’t have keyword information because of a procedure that Google implemented some time ago. (Google Analytics (not set) discussed here) Analytics shows a huge chunk of results under keyword (not set) because the searcher is logged into Google and their privacy is protected. Since it’s over 1/2 the organic results we’ll just assume that Google users are statistically the same as the rest of the population and double these results.
Since we’ve started the site has grown from 28 pages to 56 pages with most of that growth coming from an effort to provide more information to users. (snapshots to page size provided by the sitemap) Adding in business card templates, other printed product templates, informative product pages and a simple blog with a dozen posts has helped the search engines make sense of what the site is all about.
There’s varying opinions about how big your site should be, but it seems like 100 pages of content related to your products, offerings, and problems solved will start to generate some traffic. We’re on a 6 month program to get that content created because a: who has the time to just bang out quality content all day long? and b: putting it all up at once doesn’t seem to provide any advantage.
Back to Business Cards. That keyword phrase by itself is a great example of a last step in the decision making process search. I’ve covered the 4 steps in making a buying decision in previous posts, and when someone is looking for “business cards” chances are they are ready to purchase something. The trouble is, how do you compete with some of these large Super Bowl advertising printers like Vista Print? (“oh, we spent an additional $35MM year to year” nice) It’s tough. I suggest we move further up the decision process and try to figure out what they’re searching for because there may be some less competitive phrases that we can work with.
Here’s a basic search in Google Chrome. When I type in business cards and a space, the “auto-suggest” starts doing its magic. Based on my IP (I can only assume) it suggests business cards omaha as an alternative. We’ll get to that in a minute. First, the regular phrase search:
Taking a look at the results, we see a few things. One is that there are a lot of ads working. I did a little research and a click will cost you as much as $10 here. You’d better know what you’re doing before heading down that road. (local search might get it down to $3-4 a click, but based on your target Cost Per Acquisition, that might still be a bit spendy even at a 3-4% conversion rate – low end $75, high of $133 – even blended that CPA requires some serious insight into your business)
Anyway, the one nice thing about Google is their local search. Even when competing against the big guys, Google offers their users a shot at “buy local” with the big map. Clicking on that shows the value of registering your local site with the suggested local search registries. Like Google+.
Let’s jump back out to the business card search because the Google Autocomplete feature is their most used search enhancer. I want to see the results of Business Cards Omaha versus the plain phrase business cards.
Interesting, eh? The map is prominent, the # of advertisers is roughly the same and now when you look at the list of organic listings, it’s a bunch of Omaha companies. Makes sense. This leads me to the bottom of the list where I see something that helps. More suggested search terms.
These are great for content ideas. Articles or videos on how to order business cards online, a list of local business card designers and maybe even optimizing for a more generic search of “printers in Omaha”. If you trust the hints from Google, your “business card omaha” people are searching for these other phrases. Give them some insight into your big brain and help them understand your business. At least enough to make them comfortable in making a good decision.
Nothing groundbreaking here. Like the Mad Men of yesteryear, the goal is to think like your customers and give value in order to become a magnet that attracts new business.
I’ll have another update in 4-5 months to let you know how close we’re getting to being able to anticipate our local market’s printing needs.