Businesses and organizations within the tourism and retail sectors are constantly on the lookout for new strategies to reach people near their business who may want to reach them as well. In our October Digital Drop-In webinar, I covered three DIY strategies that are critical for small businesses with brick and mortar locations. Watch the video below and read on to learn about these major tools.

3 Critical Digital Strategies for Local Marketing

The ultimate mission here is to rise to the top of organic search results. You can reach basically any digital user you want by using one or a combination of the following, based on your business model and needs:

  • Local SEO and Google Maps Optimization
  • Facebook Advertising
  • Google AdWords

Local SEO and Google Maps Optimization

When online searchers are seeking out local businesses, you want yours to stand out. Local SEO tactics are relevant for businesses with retail locations, such as restaurants, attractions, and hotels. Appearing on the first search page with the map can be a gamechanger.

What Does Local SEO Success Look Like?

If someone searches for a service, product, or type of experience using the name of the area (like “Asheville”)—or they are already in the area and they search a generic term (like “tacos”)—then a Google maps image shows up. The organic spaces (non-ads) beneath the map only lists three businesses. Here’s an example: I am in Asheville and just searched “tacos.” The three websites for tacos with the best SEO show up below the map:

Below are three primary local SEO tactics that will help your business perform better within the Google Maps results.

  • Consistency Across Name, Address, Phone (known collectively as NAP) – Ensure that the content and format for your name, address, and phone number are the same on all sites, including social media profiles, free and paid business directories, and your own website. Businesses that have more consistent information out there are likely to rank better on Google Maps. This gets pretty nit picky, so if a phone number is listed at (###)-###-#### on your site and ### ### ##### on another site that you don’t own or control, it’s actually considered inconsistent because of the use of parentheses and dashes. The same applies to how your business name and address are listed. Edit it yourself or request the change so that all the information has the same format across all sites that list your business.
  • Solicit Reviews – Listings with more reviews, especially if they have accumulated steadily over time, will rank better on Google Maps.
  • Be Thoughtful About Onsite Content – The content on your website also has a major impact on your local SEO. Having your name, address, and phone listed in key places across your site is one element of this, but using locally relevant keywords (see Moz checklist below) across your site is also important.

Get Found! Three Recommended Resources for Local SEO

  1. Moz: Learn more about NAP optimization and consistency
  2. Semrush: Explore 10 best practices for Google reviews
  3. Moz: Local SEO onsite checklist

Local Facebook Advertising

Facebook advertising is getting more advanced every year. Let’s go over some local targeting options for Facebook advertising:

  1. Targeting by Geography
  2. Direct Page Promotions

1. Targeting by Geography

Known as geotargeting, targeting by geography is a great way to reach specific users based on their location. Facebook currently offers four options from the audience builder within Facebook ads manager for geotargeting. When you are creating a Saved Audience in Facebook ads manager, one of the first fields that you have to fill out is location. In this field you can list countries, states, cities, zip codes, or specific latitude and longitude coordinates with a specified radius for targeting.

Directly above the input field where you can enter your geotarget areas, there is a drop-down menu offering four options that specify how Facebook will interpret your geographic targeting requests.

  1. Everyone in this location – This is the default option and will target tourists plus anyone whose home location is within your target area, even if they are currently traveling elsewhere.
  2. People who live in this location – This will target only people whose home address is within the geographic areas that you select in your geotargeting. This will target them whether they are currently at home or traveling elsewhere. In other words, if you choose this option and then select a city such as Asheville, the ads will appear on Facebook for anyone who has Asheville listed as their home location even if they are traveling elsewhere during the advertising period.
  3. People recently in this location – This option targets anyone whose most recent location is within your target area. This could include any tourists plus any locals who are not currently traveling elsewhere. Good for businesses that are hybrid tourist and local spots. Largest combined audience you can target for a location.
  4. People traveling in this location – This will only target people whose most recent location where they accessed Facebook is within your geotarget area, however, their home must be at least 125 miles away. So if you are targeting a city like Asheville, this option will show ads to people who are currently visiting whose home location is at least 125 miles away from Asheville.

While choosing between these four options can be confusing, picking the default is rarely the best option for tourism or retail businesses. If your business is almost entirely supported by tourists then the best choice is People traveling in this location and if you want to target both locals and tourists then it is best to choose People recently in this location.

Direct Page Promotions

If you are not comfortable using the Facebook ads manager, there are also options for beginners to target people near your business from your Facebook page. You can click the Promote link located near the bottom of the left sidebar on your Facebook business profile. After you click Promote, you will get a graphical menu of options including Promote your Business Locally, which will allow you to run Facebook ads from your page to people who are currently near your business. It skips a few steps and can be really handy if you’re new to Facebook advertising. This is similar to using the People recently in this location option in ads manager.

Please watch the embedded webinar video for more details!

Google AdWords

Google AdWords offers a variety of local advertising options and strategies. During the webinar, I discussed two strategies:

  1. Local vs National Searches
  2. Targeting by Zip Code

1. Local vs National Searches

With Google AdWords, most tourism and retail businesses need to deploy different types of campaigns in order to capture the two main types of searches that are important to their businesses:

  • People doing research before they travel.
  • People doing research locally. This includes folks who live there or tourists who are already in town on their vacation.

To target people before they travel, you must set up a campaign that geotargets locations where residents are likely to visit your city. These can be specific neighboring cities or entire regions, states—or in some cases the entire country, excluding the local market. For these non-local campaigns it is important to only run keywords that are localized, meaning they include your city name in the search.

For example if you operate a zipline tour in Asheville, your campaigns for people planning their trip would all include the city name or word defining the local region such as “Asheville outdoor activities” or “WNC zipline courses.” These keyword need to be either phrase or exact match so that you do not show up for people who are looking for a zipline or adventure closer to their where they are searching from.

If the zipline business above wanted to capture people who are local or already in town on vacation, they would need a second campaign only geotargeting areas close enough for a day trip to the business location. This local area campaign can use more broad keywords such as “zipline” or “things to do” because it will only run locally. It is possible that this local campaign will get some impressions for people locally who are planning their trip to visit somewhere else, but as long as your ad clearly states that your business is in Asheville, it should not get many errant clicks.

For example, someone in Asheville searching “outdoor adventures in Costa Rica” may trigger your local ad for the keyword “outdoor adventure.” As long as the ad text says “Asheville Zipline Course” they likely won’t click it unless they are interested in learning more about the local options.

2. Geotargeting by County or Zip Code

In Google AdWords it’s possible to target by individual county or zip codes. This can be very helpful when setting up local campaigns.

One Final Word on AdWords

If you are setting up two campaigns—one to target locals and one to target people planning a visit to the area—it is important that the geotargeting does not overlap. This would apply, for example, if you wanted to set up an ad to appeal to people who live in Asheville and another ad (with different keywords) to show up for those who live elsewhere in the country. Let’s say you own a pizza restaurant. For the locals, you want them to be able to find your site by searching with Google keywords like “pizza” and “restaurants,” with Asheville being implied as the location.

But if someone in California who is planning on visiting Asheville next month searches using those same keywords, they would not be able to see your ad. This calls for a second ad/audience that covers the entire country excluding Asheville. Keywords used for those ads would be “Asheville restaurants,” “Asheville pizza,” and many others. It would rightfully exclude people who are currently in Asheville because they would fall into the first audience.

Implement These DIY Tactics to Reach the Right People

Learning how to target both locals and those planning a visit is a key skill for tourism and retail marketing professionals. Getting a good grasp on how to get the most of out Google local listings, Facebook ads, and Google AdWords is a great place to start. We hope the strategies shared in this article and webinar will help get you moving in the right direction.