Since we’ll be focusing much of this blog on local online marketing, a post defining this concept seems like a great place to get things going.

buzroo_tree-ALocal online marketing is the process of using a website, along with other online tools and resources, to promote a business within a geographically defined target.  In most cases, the website is at the center of this process, providing a foundation for other marketing activities.   From the website, marketing extends to online directories and review sites, social media sites, news sites, and potentially to any other related website on the Internet.

While we have direct control over our own websites, as well as our base profiles on many other sites, our customers and the rest of the world have the ability to create what is known as user generated content.   This content comes in the form of comments on social media sites, reviews on directories, or their own blogs. For businesses who serve a local market, both the quantity and quality of the reviews, social media mentions, and other online content are critical to growth.   In general, the quantity of this content will have a major influence on whether or not someone finds your business.   And the quality of this content will have a major influence on whether the people who become aware of your business proceed to become your customers.   We call this aspect of the local online marketing process “reputation management”.

Who qualifies as a “local business”?

In general, if a significant portion of your clientele is from your local area, there is an opportunity for local online marketing.   “Significant” can mean different things to different businesses and industries, but another way to look at it is that if you want to increase the amount of business you get from within your local area, then the techniques we’ll be discussing on this blog should be of interest.  Also, if your business is on Yelp and/or Google Places, then you are already involved with local online marketing on some level.

One final note for this post – a “local area” can also mean different things to different businesses or industries.  Some businesses focus on a single zip code, or even a neighborhood within a zip code.   Others are focused on a full city or even metropolitan area.   And in some cases, local could mean an entire state or multi-state region.   The size of  the region will depend on how unique your product or service is.