Let’s go back a few years in time, when mainstream America first discovered the Internet. Like so many others, I began to explore various online activities like email and e-commerce at Amazon.com. Eventually, I became an Internet consumer and took most of my purchasing tasks online. I could do Christmas, birthdays, weddings, and you name it –from my own living room. What a convenient time saver!

As time went on and I gained my first ten pounds while snacking and browsing the Internet, I acquired an interest in finding information on places in my neighborhood to make shopping easier. I’d search online using regional keywords such as “Santa Barbara Pizza,” but was usually disappointed with the search results. That was before local search became a reality.

Local Search Hits the Scene

Search engines like Yahoo! and Google have finally dedicated the staff and technology to develop better results for local search. Suddenly, if you like to play cards or golf, you can very easily find a destination casino or golf links with a map and directions by zip code.

One sunny afternoon, as I was burning off a few of those calories while walking through the beautiful Chumash Casino, it dawned on me that this place is much more than a gaming casino. It offers fine dining, as well as concerts and events to rival the Hollywood Bowl. It made me think, “With gridlock traffic, why drive for hours to see a concert when it’s available around the corner?”

When I got home, I searched for ticket info using the keywords, Willie Nelson concert and Tom Jones live, but the Chumash Casino website didn’t appear on the first three pages. Yet, these artists will be performing there in the coming months. I could see these artists were performing in places like Las Vegas and even Cardiff, but no mention of the Chumash in Santa Ynez. What a lost opportunity.

Expanding Market Share

Local and regional businesses like restaurants, destination casinos, and golf courses can expand market share and strengthen their brand by investing in organic search engine optimization. Organic SEO consists of technical and editorial website optimization services to improve your website’s communication with search engines.

Major SEO tasks include a site review of back-end items, search-appropriate HTML coding and SEO copywriting. Once your site has the necessary elements to attract search engine spiders, it will acquire top listings in the major search engines like Google, Yahoo! and MSN. This will bring a multitude of qualified visitors to your site as people key your strategic keywords in the search box.

The list of relevant keywords available for local or regional businesses in Google, MSN and Yahoo! is huge, and the traffic to be generated for these websites is substantial.

Elevating Your Brand

Besides bringing in the business, search engines do a fantastic job of branding. Every time your top listings appear in a keyword search for your relevant terms, it’s like an ad or a billboard. Millions of people search every day. It’s the second most popular online activity after email. Search engine users in the United States totaled over 130 million in 2004 and are projected at over 150 million in 2006. To illustrate the power of search engine branding, here’s what might come up if a Chumash Casino web page were properly optimized with SEO services.

Tom Jones Live at Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, CA June 24, 2005. Tom Jones sings "It's Not Unusual," "What's New Pussycat?" and "She's a Lady." World-renowned Tower of Power ensemble opens the show with soul and jazz. http://www.chumashcasino.com/entertainment/

Stretching Your Marketing Dollar

Search engine optimization is an effective marketing tool that can give local business low-cost branding, expanded market share and an improved bottom line. Research shows that U.S. corporations are shifting marketing dollars from traditional advertising programs to search engine marketing. One reason is that search marketing’s average acquisition costs are lower than email marketing, banner ads, TV advertising, radio, print and direct mail. The other is that search marketing delivers an excellent, verifiable return on investment. So my advice to local and regional businesses is to investigate and compare today’s marketing opportunities.

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April 19, 2005

Paul J. Bruemmer has provided search engine marketing expertise and consulting services to prominent American businesses since 1995. As Director of Search Marketing at Red Door Interactive, he is responsible for strategizing and implementing search engine marketing activities within Red Door's Internet Presence Management (IPM) services.

Search Engine Guide > Paul Bruemmer > Local Firms Can Expand Market Share With Search Engine Optimization