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London Olympics 2012: How Your Business Can Benefit From Using Local Search

Published on May 4, 2011
Tags: Web Design London, Mobile Application Development

The internet is often seen as something of a dichotomy. On one level, it is a vast global tool that transcends governments and borders. On another level, it is extremely local and is sometimes said to have helped bring the world closer together. It is this local facet to the internet that we will be exploring this week. More specifically, we will be looking at the growth of local search tools and how businesses can benefit from them, particularly in relation events such as the London Olympics 2012.

What is local search?

At its most basic level, local search allows web users to place geographic restrictions on their search terms. For example, if you were searching for a restaurant, you wouldn’t just type the term ‘restaurant’ into Google because you’d end up with results that weren’t useful to you. Instead, you’d specify where you would like your restaurant to be, such as ‘London restaurants’ or, in the case of our Olympics example, ‘London restaurants close to the Olympic stadium’. The effect is to constrain the search so web users receive more accurately tailored results that are more likely to be relevant to them.

As well as aiding search terms, local search has also recently expanded into social networking. For example, Facebook has recently adopted a feature called ‘Places’ that allows you to ‘check in’ to locations and name people you are with. There are also services such as FourSquare, which also allows you to ‘check in’ and give recommendations of places for people to visit.

Similarly, Google also offers a Places service, with optional mobile search results tailored to the exact location of the mobile phone conducting the search. This type of service, tied in with apps for iPhone and Android such as AroundMe create a new level of experience for the Internet user to locate information close to the spot where they are actually standing. So, if they are standing right outside a main Olympic venue, being able to find restaurants or bars close by, particularly ones that are reviewed and recommended, provides an invaluable modern-day tourist guide feel to the best places to eat and drink. 

Increasingly, businesses are starting to pick up on the potential for local search features such as those offered by Facebook, Google and AroundMe and they are now promoting special offers and discounts for people who ‘check in’ to their locations. Further Smartphone apps are being developed to allow people to use these features on the move and to identify local offers by doing a quick search on their phone. They then benefit from money off and other promotions at their favourite retailers, while the businesses benefit from having people checking in to their locations and making use of their services.

These kinds of tools makes it invaluable and impossible for businesses to ignore, although to build up an optimised local business marketing campaign takes time and a lot of expertise. So to be ready for the games next summer, you should really be considering making a start now.

How can this help businesses during the Olympics?

It has been almost impossible to miss the fact that the Olympics are coming to the UK in 2012, even for us as web designers, London. The prime beneficiary of this will be London as this is where the Games are based, but with athlete training facilities across the country and some of the events taking place in other locations, there is potential for businesses right across the country to benefit. More people will be coming to the country during the Olympics, which is in itself good for business, but it’s also possible for companies to significantly enhance those benefits by making use of local search.

Probably the main way of doing this is to set up your business with local search services like Facebook, FourSquare and Google so that web users who make use of those facilities will be able to easily find you. With so many tourists in the country for the Olympics, they will all be looking for specific services and you will have more chance of being located if you are featured on one of these increasingly popular apps.

You can then add specials and offers to your features to entice people to use your services. After all, if someone has the option at eating at a restaurant that’s offering a 20% discount for new customers and one that’s offering no discount, they’re most likely to go for the one with the discount. You will still benefit as it is business you wouldn’t have otherwise received and, if you deliver on your promise of a quality service, that customer is likely to bring you repeat business.

It might be tempting to focus solely on new customers during the Olympics, but it’s important to remember your regular customers, too. It’s highly likely that they’ll still be trying to use your business even while the city is bustling with tourists, so you can help win their loyalty and compensate them for any inconvenience by offering discounts to your regular customers, as well.

You should also consider customer satisfaction seriously. Most location-based services also now carry an element of user reviews. And a significant amount of research has been done to clearly indicate that Internet users will now trust third party reviews almost as much as a review from friends and family. That’s powerful – it really means that if you pick up bad reviews, no amount of local search optimisation or offers are going to entice people through your doors. You have to treat them well while they’re there to be absolutely sure you get the reviews you deserve, and so future clients too.

Is this sustainable?

While we have been focusing on the London Olympics, local search also has long term benefits. More and more people are using ‘check in’ facilities on their mobile phones and, while people might once have searched for businesses in the Yellow Pages, they are now increasingly using local search capabilities. They can offer you a good way of getting ‘word of mouth’ recommendations and promoting your company to people who may not otherwise have been able to find it.

In brief, local search can help you to promote your business and also to attract new customers. As well as being good for new business, however, it can also help you to maintain your regular customers through offering them exclusive discounts and promotions in return for their continued loyalty. Local search may still be a relatively new market, but it’s certainly a growing one, and certainly something that’s here to stay. Google’s priority particularly for 2011 is local, so if you haven’t already considered it – now is the time to do so.

If you would like expert advice and a free no obligation discussion about promoting your business through local channels, please contact us today.

By Chelsey Evans

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