Search engines are fast replacing the yellow pages as a place for consumers to find businesses. People Google everything – from a business name to find the phone number, to product names to find companies that sell a certain model, to types of services to find companies offering them. But when you’re not selling online and you don’t have locations across the country, does it make sense to be found in search engines like Google? Let’s look at offline buying and how location matters.
Search Engines Influence Offline Behavior
There is an opportunity for companies that sell offline. comScore, a global information consultancy, reported in March 2006 that 25% of searchers purchased an item (either online or offline) related to their search. Measuring across six product categories, comScore discovered that 37% of searchers purchased online, and an amazing 63% purchased offline at store locations. The lesson here – You don’t need to sell and fulfill orders online to generate sales from your web site.
Search engines are the ultimate pull marketing channel. Consumers are looking for you and are using the search engines for a variety of reasons depending on where they are in their buying process: reaching out for general information, researching a specific product or service, making a purchase, etc. Being one of the companies they find during this process puts you in the running to make the sale.
Use Location to Your Advantage
Some products can be bought online, shipped, and the transaction is complete. But other products and services are location dependent. Take, for example, lawn care. Hiring a company in another state doesn’t make sense. Type “lawn care service” into Google, and results will include products you can buy for your lawn, tips on how to find a lawn care service, and national companies. If they want their lawn mowed, searchers will quickly modify their search to include their location – be it their state or the nearest city.
The good news for marketers is that on a local level, the competition in the search engines is generally less.
Should You Invest in Search Engine Optimization?
This comes down to a simple matter of return on investment. If yours is a type of business that can initiate the selling process online, and if there is sufficient search traffic on terms related to your business to justify the effort, then the answer is yes.
A great place to start exploring the potential of search engine marketing is Google’s keyword tool at:
If you become serious about the possibility of dedicating marketing resources to driving search engine traffic to your site, you will likely benefit from hiring a professional search marketing firm to conduct an opportunity assessment for you.
Next time, we will look more closely at how to select the words you may want to target and how to maximize your odds of producing a positive return on investment from search engine optimization.