Commentary

Cowboy Country And Other Local Businesses Missing Search Opportunity

CountryMusicGirl

Many musicians long ago discovered social media and search. They make the connection with fans through texts, posts on Facebook home pages, and Twitter tweets. Others sing about it. In her song Turn on the Radio, Reba McEntire sings "Try to call, Twitter me, text until your fingers bleed. Oh, the DJ's the only way you're ever gonna hear from me. If you're reminiscing and you're missing me this much and you really wanna stay in touch you can hear me on the radio."

The resurgence of country music integrates sounds of country rock that baby boomers found in Allman Brothers Band, Buffalo Springfield, and Eagles. Some believe the reason, in part, for the growing interest in country music points to pride in local communities, mom and pop stores, and patriotism, which appears stronger than ever in Southern California.

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Still, local businesses like Ken Littleton's Cowboy Country, a local Long Beach bar, trying to attract music lovers with line dancing classes by Gina Johnson from Dance In Line miss opportunities to connect with patrons. Those frequenting his bar tweet, but Littleton's Twitter account, @CCSaloon, hasn't been updated since Oct. 2. The Facebook page gets updated frequently, but the bar's search strategy still needs work.

I admit it. I want to learn line dancing. At least try it once. So, earlier this month when I began searching for a place it took me more than 10 clicks to find an instructor and location that made me feel comfortable. On Saturday night I took the plunge. If I wasn't driven to learn I might have abandoned the idea at search query No. 5.

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Understand what people look for and how they search. If a bar offers line dancing it's important to know how people search on engines for information on the topic. Do they search on the keywords "line dancing," "country dancing," or "dancing." It's important to know how to optimize the site for all three terms, according to Local SEO Guide Founder Andrew Shotland.

Both Shotland and Clix Marketing Founder David Szetela suggest businesses claim their Google Places page and categorize it correctly. Google offers five standard categories, Shotland says, but businesses could create custom categories. Aside from Google Places, businesses must also claim their pages on other local search sites like Yellow Pages and Yelp.

Aside from standard link-building practices, businesses need to "get citations," Shotland says. For example, Cowboy Country's name and phone number needs to serve up in Web site queries on Bing or Google when referring to local reference points. "If you look what already ranks for 'line dancing in Orange Country' on the search engine, you'll see on their Places page a bunch of Web sites that talk about that business," he says. "They don't necessary link to the business, but mention the name in the posts."

Shotland says businesses can use these as reference points for line dancing in Southern California to make sure they talk about the business. By talking about it they may just have a page, blog post, or article. "If you understand what people look for, claim your profile, and build links and citations the business should do pretty well," he says.

Search engines last year began putting a greater emphasis on local businesses and location services for searches on computers and mobile devices. We know that in October 2010, Marissa Mayer took on a new role overseeing location and local services, leaving behind the title of vice president of search products.

Local businesses need to understand the difference in the keywords and phrases people might use to find content for a generic services or products, compared with well-known brand. Aside from optimizing Web sites for computers, Shotland suggests in a blog post titled that Web site owners need to optimize mobile sites, too.

Mobile search is growing. After looking at Google Analytics data for ten local retailers in the flooring industry that have similar mobile Web sites, Shotland concludes on average each site experienced exponential growth in mobile visits from search during the past year. Mobile visitors rose 80% to 8% of mobile visits in January 2011, compared with the year-ago month. Are you doing enough to help potential customers find your products and services?

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