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Local Search Marketing – How and Where to Start

Local search marketing is very often misunderstood and confused with online marketing for a small or local business. This isn’t the case.

For starters, search marketing is the process of deploying marketing strategies that help create online transparency and exposure, in turn helping increase a business’ website to show up in the search engines. This is not deploying strategies to manipulate the search engines in showing a particular website.  Successfully listing your business in Google Local Business Results requires several key factors.

In the case of Google, there are three typical places a local business can be found for a lucrative return. Assuming a business’ website does show on the first page for a relevant keyword, such as [Chicago painter], those three places are

  1. Organic Results (SEO)
  2. Local Business Results (LBR)
  3. Paid Results – Pay Per Click (PPC)

Therefore, local search marketing is deploying those strategies to get a business effectively placed in those three areas when a relevant keyword is used to trigger such results.

Local Keyword Research

Everything on a search engine starts with a keyword, or sometimes called a keyphrase. Knowing the keywords that people use to search for a local business is critical. There are several ways and methodologies to determine this. Regardless of the method to derive a list, some fundamentals are the same.

You want keywords that are relevant, being used and convert.


For example, if you are painter in Chicago, then the keyword [painter] is not relevant at all; however [Chicago painter] is 100% highly relevant. If you are a painter and have some supplies for resale, then the keyword [painting supplies in Chicago] is relevant for you, however not a core business offering. Therefore, this keyword is likely only 75% relevant. The keyword [Illinois painter] is another example of lower relevancy, however still have some relevancy.

Search Frequency

Obviously, keywords that are searched more frequently are a more lucrative terms to listed in the search engines. kwHowever, very often higher searched terms become less relevant because of items like the geographical modifier, or the geomod.

Using tools like Google’s keyword tool will help you determine search frequency.


There is a big difference between perceptions of the keyword [Chicago painter] and [Chicago painting services]. Evidence has shown across the board that service terms with a geomod and the term [service] or [services] converts prospects much higher than those service terms without the term [service], as in the case of the keyword [Chicago painter]. You need to focus your marketing efforts on keywords that convert.

Keyword Conclusion

The fact is keyword research is by no means a science. Experts can study keyword research for years and still learn new online behaviors. This is definitely importance to local search marketing, as all three properties use keywords to trigger results. Obtaining proper education on effective keyword research is critical. Taking time to choose the proper mix of an investment into all three strategies is the best mix for almost any local business. Here is a good Local Keyword Tool that you can use.

Pay Per Click, Organic and Local Business Results

Practically any local business with or without a website can promote themselves through the search engines, but without a website one would be restricted to the local business results. All three listings use an algorithm to rank the listings in the search engine results. Each algorithm is independent of the others and require a variety of factors to improve results.  Here is a post about PPC versus SEO.

Every local business owner should invest time into understanding the options available to deploy some form of an online search marketing campaign. By gaining an understanding of the options, one can choose to deploy an in house search marketing campaign or hire a professional SEO firm. Considering an effective campaign requires 10-25 weekly total hours, with an effective outsourcing and workforce, many companies are looking for effective SEO agencies who operate qualified agencies.

To learn more about promoting a local business in the search results, read our post about Local Internet Marketing – 10 Tips to Market a Local Business Online

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Written by

Scott Gallagher is a founding faculty member of Local Marketing Source and owner of WON Marketing, Inc. For over 14 years Scott has provided consulting and online marketing services to hundreds of businesses.

One Comment Published

Stuart / 15 June 2010 / Reply

Very thorough article. Excellent work.
I will put the information to good use!

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