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Targeting Local B2B Customers? Breaking News in Local Marketing from Google

November 22, 2010

Changes to Google Local Search ResultsDoes your business benefit from b2b buyers in your local area? Even if your product or service can be sold nationally, it is often easier to close business in areas where your team can make more frequent face-to-face contacts. B2B companies also tend to have less focus on local search do to scalability concerns with their marketing budget. If you can find an easy and affordable way to target local b2b customers, you’ll often have substantially less, or at least less-savvy competition.

We’re not the only ones who believe focusing on your local opportunities for leads is a wise idea. Microsoft’s Stephan Weitz reported 53% of all Internet searches are locally-based, and Google completely revamped how local-based searches look on their search engine. They also changed how they calculate who gets the coveted top spots for any given search.

Here is a quick rundown of the local search changes and how they impact your business.

  • Google Maps dominates the first page and visible area for local searches. Google used to show 7 local listings grouped to themselves with a map – now they’re integrated much more seamlessly with the regular results and take up much more space. It’s less of a “and here are local results if you’re interested. It’s now a, “We know you’re interested so here it is in full force.”
  • Google changed how they rank websites for locally-based searches – not a huge departure but what worked yesterday may not today.
  • Your “Google place page” (like a yellow page listing hosted by Google) has much greater visibility. If this is not fully-filled-out, you may lose business to someone who does give out that information
  • Google reveals more clearly which websites in your market carry enough credibility that Google would monitor and consider their reviews of your business. If Google considers them influential in your market, what would that mean to your advertising efforts? Would you be reaching out to customers for them to review your business?
  • Information is organized in an easier way for comparison
  • You can now switch to local results at any time with the new link for “Places” in the left-hand panel of the search results page. Do most users understand this yet? Probably not, but they will.
  • Google map now shows above the paid search listings, and even follows you as you scroll down the page
  • When you start typing a search in google, have you noticed the results which start to pop up in the auto-suggest feature? They tend to contain much more accurate geographic data based on your location. If Google believes from historical data you are seeking something usually offered locally, they’ll suggest these types of terms for you.

Action plan for b2b companies seeking local buyers

A credible web presence is an absolute “must” – Google also added a preview tool on search listings so people don’t even need to click through to your site. Your business now must appear credible before they even look at the information you have. We’re not saying we need to have 100 pages of content and a blog if a company sells industrial ball bearings, but a website designed by their niece in 1999 isn’t going to instill the credibility their business probably deserves or gets offline.

What is your pay per click bidding strategy? – Bidding to the top 3 spots on local pay per click has become more important now that the map pushes the other ads further down the page. Ad positions 4-8 on Google typically get less traffic but have a great ROI – less bidding wars. Google likely spotted firms like ours optimizing for these positions and moving the map over there increases the need for making sure your ads are visible. The question remains whether the position 4 ad will be clicked more often by google users whose eyes are drawn automatically to the map. That still requires testing.

Who tests and optimizes your pay per click campaign to keep you out of fruitless bidding wars and monitors changes to ensure you get the highest return for your marketing investment?

What is your testimonial strategy? – Every business we speak to knows the importance of collecting testimonials, but often does not have time to collect them or develop an actionable strategy of how and where to use these reviews.

We’ve seen reports showing as many as 92% of b2b buyers search a company online before doing business with them. Right below your company listing on Google/Yahoo/Bing, you’ll see other credible websites which mention you. This will likely include review sites… even if you are a b2b company. Encouraging customers to review you on these visible sites takes a small leap of faith but can reap significant rewards.

We can help you design an end-to-end program to collect customer feedback, get these visible to potential customers, and use them to build credibility on your website so you close more business.

Yellow Pages are on their last legs? – If you’re not tracking your ROI on yellow page ads via trackable phone numbers and a trackable URL to the website, you may want to do so and discover if it’s producing measurable results. We’ve heard the funeral being preached for yellow pages ever since modern search engines developed, but now we’re seeing Google finally start to push these sites down the listings. Those web listings were Yellow Pages’ attempt to keep up with the changes on the web. What is next for them & their advertisers?

In Google’s eyes, a yellow page listing isn’t that important now that Google has the same information along with an extra couple layers of useful information such as maps, hours, reviews from real customers, coupons and more.

Ride the Wave of Greater Visibility to B2B Buyers in Your Local Area

WSI B2B Marketing can help your business devise a solid strategy for local marketing, specifically designed for b2b buyers. Every marketing company in the universe is jumping on the local bandwagon, but you need someone who understands

  • how b2b buyers make purchasing decisions
  • where they search – it’s similar to consumers… but not exactly
  • how to support longer sales cycles
  • the best way to integrate complex sales processes such as dealer networks
  • supporting the frequently smaller marketing teams at b2b companies who often have multiple roles with sales

Contact us today for an analysis of your current opportunities and get a gameplan together for how your business can dominate the search landscape in your local area.

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