The internet is all about interactivity, and that’s exactly the direction internet advertising has headed in the last few years. It’s not a trend likely to go away in the foreseeable future either. All participants in the advertising cycle are demanding more interaction between advertiser and target; companies, as they always have, want to get as much ‘bang for their buck’ as possible, and the capability provided by the internet of tracking and analyzing a web user’s habits provides advertisers with the luxury of only paying for advertising that is likely to be relevant to those who view it, instead of broad campaigns; individuals, as they always have, don’t want to be bothered by irrelevant advertisements for products they have no interest in; and the media linking the advertisers and their customers wants to most efficiently provide the best regarded service possible, in order to command the best price for it.
One recent innovation is the rise of Location-Based Services and Location-Based Advertising (LBS & LBA). The process consists of a two-way exchange of information; by logging your physical location as an individual, you provide search engines with the ability to eliminate irrelevant data when you browse for a product or service. The results are quite astounding – even though McDonalds maybe the largest food franchise in the world, and one of the most searched topics, if you are in one of the few localities without a McDonalds and search for ‘fast food outlets’, results for McDonalds will appear much lower than in an organic search where the results are not filtered to your location.
Taking this process to the next level, service providers like Foursquare offer a tailored solution. Individuals can check in with a business or service using the Foursquare application, leave feedback and notify their friends of their current location. Businesses benefit because Foursquare offers a high degree of relevance in regards to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO); information garnered via Foursquare is highly regarded by the SEO algorithms and assist in placing a business higher on the search engine rankings.
To truly take advantage of LBA, a company should maximise its opportunities to tell search engines where it is. Make sure your physical location is clearly indicated on your website. Websites with geographically specific domain names that match the actual content of the page perform better in SEO, so if you’re in the United Kingdom, go for address.co.uk for example. The same applies to telephone numbers – toll free numbers are customer friendly, but including your ISD, long distance and local telephone area codes as well will assist search engines in verifying your location. Include maps on your landing or contact page (Google maps and geosite maps are the best tools for this). Use the Google Places
feature as well, to associate your business with its specific physical address. Most importantly, keep refreshing your business page’s locality content as well as product content. Link to other local businesses. Find or generate reviews that target your local area and get them up on your page as often as possible – that’s where tying your SEO strategy in with something like Foursquare comes in really handy as well, because the customers are actually doing the hard work for you!
Location based advertising is the way of the future. Some brands even want to be able to track their customers so closely they can alert them when they walk down the relevant aisle in the supermarket or department store. If any business, especially a retail business, is to survive and thrive as the twenty first century advances, LBA will need to be a crucial element of their marketing strategy.