In the past, most local businesses never thought they could compete with major companies.  The marketing budget needed to really make a similar impact was usually way out of their capabilities.  However, with Google’s latest updates, it’s looking like the smaller business has a much better chance of staying within the public’s eyes.

Today being Black Friday (and considering the upcoming Cyber Monday), a lot of local businesses are starting to worry a bit more about keeping afloat in the offers that come across from major companies, often available online.  So how can local businesses compete?

The latest change from Google was the merge between the organic search results and Google Places.  This means that in order to have a good shot at sitting inside the Places listings on the front page (now appearing like any normal organic listing, with some minor differences), you need to have a local address.  This means that any business can have a good chance at being found by people looking for them if they’re in the same area and they’ve set up some basic internet marketing adjustments.

So before, when the only companies appearing online for a specific market were the monster firms that had huge sites and have a marketing budget that’s astronomical, local companies didn’t really get a lot of attention from the people in their city that were shopping online.  Now that Google’s made some changes, a lot of those monster firms (with no local address to compete) are drifting farther down on the front page or are even on the second page.  The Google Places profiles for the local businesses are showing up above them.

For any local business that wants to be able to get this new attention that’s available, ideally you need a web site ready (one that people will actually be willing to hang around on and not leave immediately) and a Places profile that’s been properly tweaked.  If you have both of these, it gives you a good chance at quick jumps in traffic.  This is a type of shortcut for SEO – it works quickly if you do it right, and doesn’t need to cost the same amount as it would for straight SEO.

So do it right, and you can even survive Cyber Monday.  If you don’t know the exact details on what to do, it’s best if you find qualified experts who can produce results for both the web design and the Google Places profile.  Just be careful about who you choose – do your research to find out who’s been able to show real results, and isn’t just talking it up.

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