Local is the new global...kind of opposite of what you've always heard, right? Internet marketing ushered in an era where global is the new local from the standpoint that it makes it easy for someone to sell a product or service world-wide from their comfort of their U.S. home.
In our business, however, most of us don't need or want global business. We work at local lead generation that affords us opportunities in a defined area surrounding where we do business. For this reason, many home improvement business owners are concerned about investing time, effort and resources on internet marketing for lead generation purposes.
We've discussed how internet marketing can generate higher quality leads because it is more focused and intuitive. Today we'll talk about how using the internet to generate home improvement leads locally can effectively level the lead generation playing field if you truly understand how to accomplish it.
How the Concept of Local Lead Generation has Evolved
Six or seven years ago, the primary way to handle local lead generation was a tool called Google Maps. You see an example here. When Google introduced this tool, they listed many more local companies than they do today.
All the SEO guru's at the time taught and sold courses on how to "maximize" your companies listing on the Maps insert. The reality was that most of these things were ways to "game" the system. Google, as it always does, figured these out and has made many changes over the years to thwart attempts to subvert their intent; give their "customers (searchers)" the best possible results.
Here's how you can maximize your placement in this listing...
- No games--Understand that it is truly location based and forget trying to figure out how to get listed in places you don't have a physical location. In the picture, I did a search for "replacement windows in Cary, N.C." The first listing is a window dealer in Cary, NC, which is a suburb of Raleigh. If you do the same search for "replacement windows in Raleigh, N.C.," you won't find them, although I bet they serve Raleigh as well. By the way, postal mailboxes won't work and may even get you penalized. Gaming the system isn't worth the potential Google "slap." Work on some of the other ideas that we'll discuss if you don't have a physical presence in a desirable (demographically) location.
- Understand NAP--Being there isn't enough, especially in areas where you have lots of competition. Google also evaluates you based on the consistency of your company information across the internet. Do a Google search for your company name. Make sure that everywhere your company is listed (website, social media accounts, review sites, directional sites, mobile sites, etc.) that your company name, address and phone number are exactly the same (if you list "Main Street" on your website, "Main St." on another site is considered different.)
- Build citations--Simply put citations are links to your site from elsewhere that list your business for directional or review purposes, and even industry-related. Think MapQuest, Yelp and Houzz for example. When you did the search for your business above, if you didn't see many of these types of listings it's time to get to work. Don't forget NAP!
What Else Can I Do To Generate Leads Locally
What about other surrounding areas that you'd like to get more business in other than just where your physical location is? What can a home improvement dealer do to generate higher quality local leads, beyond Google Maps?
- Solicit reviews--Search engine algorithms judge you similarly to the way a potential customer does; by what others say. Solicit legitimate reviews especially on Google, but also on 8-10 of the most relevant review and social sites. Make sure to ask your customer if they'll include the city that they live in within the review itself. These reviews point back to your site and tell the search engines how active and well-thought of your business is. This helps you with direct traffic to your sit, but also indirectly from potential customers that call you because they read a great review or got a referral online. Another warning...don't ever try gaming this piece. The search engines, and most of the actual review sites as well, are way too smart to get fooled here.
- Create and optimize local landing pages--In essence, these are additional pages on your website that are geo-focused and targeted. One of the people that I believe gets using the internet as a lead generation tool has a great story about using landing pages for local lead generation talks in depth about it here.
- Go mobile--I'm betting that many of you have access to the analytics of your site, either personally or through an agency that you are working with. Take the time to review how much of the traffic to your website comes from a mobile device, it may shock you. Up to 80% of searches that find a business on a mobile search, make a purchase. What does your website look like if you pulled it up on your phone?
Local lead generation via internet marketing provides more targeted, higher quality leads than traditional local marketing methods. Next time we'll finish our discussion on internet home improvement lead generation by talking about to turbocharge the quality of the leads that you generate by understanding the process that a home improvement buyer goes through.