Local Search Mastery, Size and Intent

search engines May 13, 2016

Having your school found on search engines can be a dark, confusing place for most school owners. They know they need to be seen there and simply think that having a website up will do the trick. This is the most common mistake I see business owners make when they step into the web with the keys to their business in hand. Let me rephrase, thinking that putting a website online will make you visible to search engines - is dead wrong.

Second mistake, hands down - without question - is thinking that building a list of likes on Facebook somehow means something to your school's performance.

So it goes something like this.

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  • Because 'I think' my martial arts school needs one, I quickly put a website up that either I buy from a pay-plug-publish provider like Godaddy or Verizon, (maybe I even buy into one of their up-sell SEO packages as a result of both fear and ignorance of the new frontier I know little about.) Possibly I'm a bit more savvy and choose to use a simple website service like Wix or Weebly and keep it ultra affordable.
  • Then, I create a facebook page and 'hope' this will drive crowds of people to my business.
  • I tell all my friends about my new site and facebook page and ask them to share, share, share.
  • Then.... I wait.

This is pretty much how it happens. Eventually, the disgruntled owner realizes the time they've lost talking to nobody on social media, the money they wasted on some service they knew nothing about and eventually just go back to working in their Dojo instead of working on their Dojo.

Their website will soon have outdated content, their engagement on social media loses relativity and their online visibility slowly sinks further and further down into the SERP abyss.

"I tried marketing online, set up a website and all that for my school. It doesn't work and I don't have the time." That's what I hear.

Foolish.

The number one reason why any small business owner should go online, is to attract. Attract both strangers from your target audience and attract existing customers to serve them at a continued and higher level. This is the ONLY thing they must think about at this stage. Attracting.

Once you have caught their attention and they have taken the action to engage with your message and consume your online content, then it's up to you to convert them into what inbound methodology calls a visitor, but that's for another article.

Right now, let's talk about attracting and where most school owners screw it up big time.

First, before I dig into the basic elements of what I consider to be your number one priority as a small business owner - let me make this point, backed by hundreds of tests and ignored by almost every small business owner I know ...

Nobody gives a shit about your business.

You can have the world's fastest side kick, the prettiest teachers, the best degrees from Sifu, the most trophies in your state or the coolest looking kid's uniform, at the beginning and end of everyone's day - nobody cares.

If you want to gain any traction online, attract followers to your brand and it's message, you must engage with relevancy and value. Value is based on one or a combination of three triggers. When I arrive at your property online, you've got seven seconds to serve me in a way that delivers a gain, provides a logical solution or releases me from fear. Those are the three triggers you must construct a value based proposition around and baked into every gateway content piece, be it a lead magnet, freemium or whatever. Then, you gotta deliver on that promise. More on that point later. Now, let's talk about attraction.

For a studio owner, the first item they must consider when planning on how to attract and convert their target audience is through building up their local search visibility.

Local search... I cannot begin to tell you how overlooked this is. Let's dig in.

First, there are three reasons why local search is a priority any small business owner cannot avoid.

  1. Audience Size
  2. Purchase Intent
  3. Competition

Audience size

Considering that 30% of all searches performed on search engines have what’s called local intent, that’s 1 in 3 searches performed - cross desktop AND mobile searches, I can pretty much stop right here in justifying why you must start advertising local, but first consider that 7.5 billion searches on both desktop and mobile with local intent. This number does not include apps such as Foursquare.

That's alot!

Purchase Intent

Taking those numbers and qualifying them with the fact that local intent search queries capture immediate buyer data, such as need and location and associate this data with advertisers with audience criteria that matches this data, it's easy to see how foolish it is to not use local search as part of your daily business model.

But what about social media ads, such as boosting facebook articles? Again, nobody cares about your article unless there is something in it for them. It's an obstacle in their timeline. Local search provides a search query with a solution provider (you), and qualify that result with positive, crowd based social proof (reviews), link to a landing page with a value based, customer centric proposition, accurate location and map pin and you've got yourself a path to student acuisition 24/7.

Besides, according to Moz research (and lots of others), ads on google perform better than ads on facebook. People are on facebook to hangout and are not intent on finding a solution at that moment via a search query. Facebook just doens't provide keyword intent results for what a person is looking for, local search does. Claiming your school's listing on all major search engines, making certain the details your enter are identical across all platforms and making sure your geo listing is accurate will greatly support that awesome site you've created. Supporting that listing with low cost, local ad placement will assure that your target audience sees your listing based on their immediate need and will knock on your door.

It's now up to you to open and serve.

You've got seven seconds.

In my next article we'll go into the third reason why local search is so important to a small business owner, competition.

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