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Local Done Right: How to Optimize Geo-Targeted Marketing

In the old days, marketers had a few choices at their disposal when they wanted to reach a geographic audience:

  • They could buy ad placements in national publications sold in certain geographic locations
  • They could buy ads in regional publications
  • They could buy a radio ad in a local radio broadcast
  • They could purchase ad and listing space in regional and local Yellow Pages directories

All of these strategies worked for decades, but with the advent of the tech age, and specifically, due to the advent of search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click ads (PPC):

  • Print and radio ads became far too cost prohibitive compared to digital marketing
  • Print and radio ads provided much poor ROI compared to digital marketing results
  • The Yellow Pages became increasingly obsolete

That last point is most important to focus on because honestly, when is the last time that you or anyone that you know has thumbed through the Yellow Pages? A decade?

The fact is, it’s far too convenient (and more accurate) for consumers to find local businesses by performing a search engine query. What’s more, when marketers want to reach targets in certain geographic regions, it cost the same amount of money to target them regionally as it does to reach out to targets on the other side of the world.

Therefore, it makes far more sense for marketers to hone into geo-targeted marketing tactics, via digital marketing platforms. But there’s tips that marketers should keep in mind in order to maximize the cost and time efficiency of geo-targeting their marketing message.

The language lingo of the locals

James Ramsey, global head of technology for U.K. stroller manufacturer Maclaren, notes an issue that he faced after plugging in keywords that were common for specified local markets, yet were strange for English speakers outside of his local market:

In the United States when we use buggy as a key word, it doesn’t work. You have the same problem on the other side of the pond when you search for a buggy.

Right now we’re not coming up because we are in there as strollers. So we’re working on putting in International English, and the site will automatically pick which version of English that you should be seeing.

As the article notes, although all of the company’s marketing targets speak English, the local phrases and euphemisms were so different, the company might as well have been addressing site visitors in an entirely different language! What’s more, since site visitors in different geographic markets aren’t searching for specific keywords, using them in the body of their site copy was a complete waste of time.

Be sure to think about the local lingo as you’re plotting out your keyword strategy. And also, make sure that the keyword that you plan on targeting translates into the same word in your international market.

As many know, a English word can have one meaning in the U.S. and have an entirely different meaning in the U.K. For example, a biscuit in U.K. is commonly called a cookie in the U.S., while biscuits in the U.S. are small, flaky pieces of bread.

Finding locals with SEO

Now that you’ve shored up your keyword strategy, it’s time to put them to work, making sure that you’re taking a few extra steps in your optimization strategy as you go along. If you’re a smaller outfit, then you might be tasked with finding geographic targets on your own (instead of tasking this to your marketing agency).

To reach local users through organic traffic, it’s important to make sure you optimize your website for reaching local shoppers. Specific places to include local keywords (like city and state), include:

  • Meta title tag.
  • Meta description tag
  • URL and/or subdomain (as appropriate)

Marketergizmo provides a handy step-by-step list on how to implement this strategy for your own website.

While these tips are also geared towards businesses that have brick and mortar entities on the ground in local regions, these tips will also allow national entities who are reaching out to specified geographic targets after they plug in regional/geographic keywords.

Terri is a content marketing storyteller and strategist. She teaches marketing and entrepreneurship through stories for marketers of all stripes. Her specialty is creating narrative and she writes essays and memoir in her spare time.

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