The following is Part 1 of a four-part series on local search marketing called “The Journey From Clicks To Conversion.”
A Brief History of Local Advertising
Sometime during the mid-2000s, “local search marketing” became generally recognized as a distinguishable approach to search engine marketing, by focusing on small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that traditionally only advertised in local media such as newspaper, television, radio, and yellow page directories. The ongoing challenge for SMBs was the age-old problem of determining whether their local advertising was actually providing a return on investment. The typical small business would invest in one of more forms of local advertising and then at the end of the year compare their income to their local advertising investments. If the income went up, the advertising was working and conversely, if income went down, the advertising wasn’t working. The inherent challenge with this approach is that there are always many factors at work that can influence the success of a business outside of their advertising investments. In the end, most SMBs really didn’t know how well their advertising investment was working.
Pay-Per-Click Advertising for Local Businesses
During the late 1990s through the early 2000s, businesses started to understand that the internet could provide new sales opportunities and as result website creation exploded. Once on the internet, many SMBs, fresh from investing thousands on a new website, awoke to the cruel reality that nobody was coming to their website. There was a relatively new concept called search engine optimization that promised to help your business become more visible on the internet by getting your website included within the search engine results pages. The cost though, was often prohibitive to all but the most well-funded SMBs. Seeing that search engine inclusion was necessary for attracting website visitors, SMBs turned to pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Pay-per-click advertising allowed businesses to include themselves in search engine results pages in special sections designated for advertisers. The inclusion was free but there was a charge to the advertiser each time their advertisement was clicked. The compelling benefits of PPC were: (1) that the business could control the amount of money they were spending, (2) the business could start getting traffic to their website almost immediately, and (3) the PPC service provided detailed performance reporting. Enterprising SMBs started their own PPC campaigns with Google and Yahoo but after a short while and often thousands of dollars later, SMBs realized that managing their own campaigns was costly and time consuming. As a result, SMBs turned to their local advertising partners for help and advice.
Watch for Part 2, which will discuss the birth of local search marketing and how the “guarantee” got difficult to deliver.