Rick runs a fitness center in Des Moines, Iowa. He has been using pay-per-click advertising from Google AdWords to get people in the door for over a year now, and it is working like magic. His ad shows on Google any time a person types in “fitness center” (or any of a hundred other relevant terms). It is clear from his ad that he is local, and folks are taken to a page that gives them a coupon for a free first visit to his center in exchange for their name and email address. Half of his website visitors opt in and take the free offer, and his mailing list is booming as a result. And, of course, his new memberships are way up.
Rick is riding the wave of one of the Internet’s most surprising tendencies. The Kelsey Group estimates that 60% of searches on the Internet are for local products and services. Other researchers say that it is closer to 75%. Either way, for countless brick-and-mortar businesses – not to mention a host of online-only businesses – Google Local is the way to go.
My friend the dentist called me recently to ask about an offer she had received from her local phone company. Shoppers in town, the phone rep had told her, would jump on the Internet looking for dentists in the area, and her name and contact information would show up when folks clicked through to look at the directory. Here’s the deal – the phone company would charge 25 cents for every click on her name, and then post a special private number that web visitors can use to call her office. For every call she gets, she pays $15.