When I was a boy, there was a local newspaper in almost every town, actually printed on newsprint, a very thin paper that was easily recycled. It contained news about the neighbors and the world, comics, puzzles, editorials, reviews, advertisements, business listings, classified ads, wedding announcements, epitaphs, gossip columns, astrological reports, church events, weather reports, just about everything you could imagine for information that would unite a town and give that town a feeling like they know their neighbors and they know what is going on around them. We could see the seeds of every good thing that was about to blossom in town. We could always find a job when we wanted to work. New businesses found new customers because everyone read everything in the local newspaper.
Today, most news is regional or global and it is all scattered around the Internet. The local newspapers are almost all gone. Everybody’s business seems like it is global from the start. This is not a bad thing, but it has come at a cost. We are forgetting that we have neighbors and neighborhood businesses, and that feeling at home means knowing the people around you in more depth than we do. Our community is on the web. We track our friends through FaceBook, and they help us connect with other people who are most likely living far from us. Our global network grows, but our local network suffers from lack of attention.
Ironically, marketing on the Internet still follows a similar natural system. To become successful globally, it is still important to be successful locally. We are still village creatures who thrive on a sense of community. The search engines place very high importance upon your location. Whether you realize it or not, so do customers and friends. Most customers will hire a local company over a distant one if the local can handle the job. They want the human contact, the sense of community. And when someone searches for a plumber on a search engine, the search engine knows and will show you plumbers in your region or town.
So…it is very important that you make it clear to the search engines where you are and that you are proud of where you are and will serve local customers as you would have your neighbors serve you.
If you want to build a customer base with your website, think local first. Build out from there. Get listed in Google Business Listings. Put yourself on the map…the Gmap. Write about where you live in your blog. I live in Maine. I am proud of that. Maine is beautiful.