The Local Side of the World Wide Web

By Gail Z. Martin

So much as been made of the opportunities opened up by the Internet for companies to deal globally (or at least, outside their local market) that many companies don’t realize that the Web has a local side as well.

Your neighbors and customers, as well as prospects in your geographic area, go online as part of their everyday routines. They read online newspapers and magazines, search for information with Google, shop from online retail and wholesale stores, and download books, music and software. If your business isn’t part of the range of information they see when they go online, you’re missing out on sales.

Some business owners feel that by having a Web site they’ve done what’s necessary to attract their online neighbors. But most Web sites are fairly static. Few businesses update their Web sites with the frequency with which social media sites, online newspapers and magazines or blogs add new information. Internet search engines favor recency and relevancy. That means that information bubbles to the top of search results when it is very closely related to the search term (thanks to keywords) and recently posted. The twin factors of recency and relevancy often work against Web sites because most sites don’t change frequently enough.

Here’s where online PR and marketing can play a huge role in assuring that your business gets it share of attention from local customers.

Online PR about the local activities your company sponsors can help your business connect better with local customers. Does your company host special events such as educational seminars, workshops, or grand openings? Do you participate in community programs, such as sponsoring Little League or holding a charity food drive? Do you offer daily or weekly specials or have live entertainment? If so, these are all very locally-focused reasons to post online PR.

Many companies send press releases to their local offline newspaper or to local paper magazines. True, some of these publications also have online related sites and some of those local press releases may find their way onto the Internet. But many companies forget to target their news to online-only local publications, which means they are missing out in two ways: they miss readers of the online publication and they fail to derive benefit from the search engine hits on their name/topic.

(Excerpted from the brand new book 30 Days to Online PR and Marketing Success: The 30 Day Results Guide to Making the Most of Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and Blogging to Grab Headlines and Get Clients by Gail Z. Martin)

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