The widespread adoption of smartphones has ushered in what may be the golden age for holiday shoppers. Google and Facebook certainly understand this. The search engine and social network giants continue to develop ways to index information and keep us in contact, no longer just on the web, but increasingly in the world around us.
As recently mentioned on Google’s blog, local availability is now included in its Product Search. The benefits of being listed locally are particularly apparent if a smartphone-carrying potential customer is using the free Google Shopper app, which gives price information for sites around the web as well as nearby stores. The Shopper app will even connect to the smartphone’s GPS navigation system should the buyer find a good local deal.
This doesn’t mean the store with the best search result has to win the customer’s business, though. Because a smart merchant should have already cultivated relationships with the local customer base through Facebook. Twitter also works, but for now at least, the Facebook relationship has the potential to feel more personal. A merchant Facebook page that has a personality, interacts with its community, and offers incentives may draw more business than a competitor who simply places higher in SERPs.
With the kind of power many customers now hold in the palm of their hands, they are better informed of their local purchasing options than ever before. Consequently, merchants who do not keep an eye toward their online presence will not be able to compete in the world of today. Even small local businesses need to stake out their Place in Google’s world, and write their Page in the Facebook.
Once upon a time, good SEO techniques and internet marketing campaigns might have primarily been beneficial in getting customers to your website. But as the web world and the physical world become increasingly more tightly knit, they must also be considered essential if you want to get the people to your door during the upcoming holiday season.
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