Okay, first things first, this post isn’t really about hypnotism or mind control, but if you’re interested to learn something with a similar effect so that you can leverage on local search, I highly suggest that you continue reading. Also, please be reminded that I will keep my case as thorough and open as possible to allow sparks to ignite on your end—ideas, suggestions, and what not.
More importantly, kindly keep tab of Reciprocation and Choice Architecture, the two concepts that will serve as the backbone of this article (both interpretations I proudly borrowed from Science and Influence of Persuasion by Cialdini and Nudge by Thaler and Sunstein respectively).
Just to help you catch up with the readings, here’s my take on the two ideas:
Reciprocation (The Law of Reciprocity), or commonly known as the “law of give and take,” basically explains that positive actions lead to positive responses, negative actions to negative responses, and so on.
Club Scene 1
Person A: “Drink up! Drink up! All drinks are on me!”
Person B: “Great! Thanks dude!”
Club Scene 2
Person A: “Okay, where’s the booze!?”
Person B: “Dude, let me get this one, you had your hands full last time.”
Person A: “Yeah, you finally felt it bro! Just in time! Imma outta cash!”
On the other hand, Choice Architecture (by virtue of Libertarian Paternalism) is engineering a smart set of scenarios (or options/choices) where people can easily be nudged (not forced!) to perform desired actions.
Organization XYZ: “Help Organization XYZ today and be a gift to mankind.”
“What would you like to do? Donate Money | Share Your Services | Spread the Word”
Just to summarize my take on both concepts, what I’m trying to say here is that we need to constantly make positive interactions and relationships online so that we can effectively nudge people to take an action or two (willingly!) from an engineered set of options where all outcomes are beneficial (Great! It’s a win-win situation then!).
So how do these concepts help us with local search? Do we just submit our local listings to several local directories and that’s it? Why not create positive pockets of exchange and make your visitors do the work for you? Take a look at the following not-so-uncommon strategies and breathe new life into them by leveraging on reciprocation and choice architecture—that’s where the magic is.
Citations as a New Form of Link
Gone is the age of Friendster and testimonials (sad fact!) but take into account that testimonials can play a big role in local search in the form of citations, reviews, comments, and mentions—such citations can come from localized directories such as Yelp or review sites like Epinions, and soon enough I do believe that citations and reviews from blogs and social media in general will play a big role in local search optimization (search engines might actually be at it right now).
Moving forward, you may be offering great products and services locally, but what do you do after each conversion? Are you the type who just celebrates after each sale? What’s your follow through? Have you tried asking your customers about their insights about your product? Have you tried asking for a testimonial?
Go and have a look at your site’s user data, can you pinpoint customers who seem to be really happy about your products/services? Seeing frequent buyers and visitors?
Why don’t you ask them for a favor? You know you’ve done them a good deal. It can be as simple as sending them an email asking for a quick testimonial about their favorite product–that you will post on your product page for example (This pretty much went well when Wikipedia went “Wikipedia was there when you needed it, now it needs you” + donate button). Better yet, why not go full on and create an event for this? Engineer a set of options!
“Hello ________ ! Thank you for your continuing support! You’ve been one of our most faithful customers, which is why in turn, we’d like to give you a 25% discount this coming Father’s Day–we’ve got a new collection of the things you love.
Lastly, we’ve also been wondering if’ you’re interested to have your name on our site as proof of our gratitude. Kindly send us a short testimonial and we’d gladly have it up there. Hmm do you own a blog? It would be great if you can talk about us there as well. Oh before we forget we’re also giving you 5 discount coupons you can share with your friends.
Thanks a lot and happy shopping!
The Comfy Underwear Experts Team“
Nice huh!? You can also turn something like this into one of your exit pages–probably after a customers purchase? Or in a form of an article. It really depends! Well, this is just an idea, what’s on your mind right now?
Lure them through Linkbait
We’ve all heard of the phrase free is key and we’ve done a great deal of providing invaluable content to our readers and followers. Jordan Kasteler did a great job on discussing the intricacies behind the science of linkbait and it’s definitely worth the read.
But on top of delivering good quality content and linkbait, let’s further enhance the experience by making our content talk and interact with the readers. You know that you’re sharing invaluable information, people know what which is why they read your content. Given this scenario, you know reciprocity can definitely come into the picture–you’ve made a positive interaction.
Aside from just providing your two cents about your products/services, your expertise, or your experiences, why don’t you find ways to talk to your readers through your content? Provide them with scenarios and ideas you know they’re most likely to do–engineer options! By the way, trust is a valuable factor here so make sure not to break it, it only takes a rookie mistake to do so.
TRIVIA: Did you know that when you slowly turn your head to your right it’s actually the left part of your brain working? Try lifting your right hand up–yeah, you guessed it that’s still your left brain working. Interesting huh? By the way, did you feel the subtle electrical tinges on the left part of your brain while doing what I said? If not, you should try it again and try feeling the sensation this time. It’s just way cool!
Okay I haven’t really verified what I just said above, it’s just an example anyways, but how many of you actually turned your heads to the right and lifted your right hands up?
I’ll throw this one right off you, say you’re a local service provider, perhaps a shrink who offers counselling for live-in partners, and you basically want people in your area who are in need of your services to find you. In order to get the attention of these people suffering from broken hearts in your locality, you need to get our name out there, start writing about your expertise, your experiences, go out and engage yourself in speaking engagements and so on. Say that you’re already doing well and you’ve got consistent traffic on your site, that’s good, but people never really knocked on your door and called for help.
Here’s my idea, I’ll probably do some keyword research for interesting niche terms about–boyfriend takes back all his gifts, girlfriend sells household furniture for kicks, couple splits because of unpaid bills, and so on.
Write a compelling case about specific scenarios like these (just like what every other good blogger would suggest) and apply your expertise, people would appreciate that, but here’s the thing, maximize the opportunity of actually sharing something (reciprocation opp!) and call out to them. A simple statement in your article telling your readers to direct their friends to you might just do the trick (who have been experiencing the problems you’ve zeroed in on). Aside from asking them to share your article to people would find the information really really relevant, create a simple html calling card that they can easily share to their friends.
E.g. Dr. Margaret Hoodshrinker, Expert Love Doctor, +63922 xxx xxxx, 3xxx Mindshare St., Tampa, Florida.
DWOM (Digital Word of Mouth) is really powerful because information is passed on via friendly recommendations (that also act as citations and links!). Who would know? These might end up posted all over the web, in blogs, social networks, forums, and so on. What do you think? Have other ideas in mind?
Get Them Involved Using Link Magnets
Link magnetism might be the most direct and concrete of all three strategies–I wouldn’t recommend doing them all the time though as your site or blog might end up with tons of list articles (which can be counterintuitive for your readers by the way). In any case, to get this started, look at your site’s customer data once again and locate your most positive relationships in order to leverage on reciprocation. Tap these individuals and create scenarios where you can engage them and get high value exchanges.
Link Magnetism Idea:
I would contact my top 10 customers and tell them that I’ll be featuring all of them in one awesome article for the store’s blog.
E.g. Little Caviar’s Finest Asian Fashionistas
Then I would ask them to strike a pose with the products and have them send the photos as part of the article. In turn, provide them the exclusive badges that you’ve prepared and have them posted on their blogs or social networks. To make it even more enticing give them a 5-10% discount on all of their purchases as long as their badges are kept online.
Not only that this promotes your brand well, but the ego boost will definitely move your supporters (reciprocity!). So where does local search come in the picture? Well it’s simple, it’s all in the badge! Just note that we’re going organic here, so please don’t have ideas of stuffing your badge with unnecessary keywords–you would want to target your local keywords!
As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, I wanted to keep this post as thorough as possible but in the process of wanting this to be a catalyst for more ideas, I had to leave it simple and open ended. As to how you will use the psychology behind reciprocation and choice architecture to build your search strategies, that really depends in the nature and personality of your business.
I didn’t go into detail about what exactly to place, put, or do on your citations, links, and so on, basically because David Mihm already did us a great deal by having the local search ranking factors available for everyone–let’s use that to our advantage! I also didn’t want to limit local search within the box and the 7-pack, which is why I really never mentioned maps or anything within my post–I always keep an open mind when it comes to possibilities, as always (if PPC enhances CTR on SERPs, then probably regular results + vertical search can be a formidable duo as well).
Being in the field of technology and innovation that is SEO, be reminded that creativity is always at your fingertips and spamming is bad, very very bad!
Lastly, if you have suggestions, ideas, and violent reactions, follow me on Twitter :) Nah, hit the comments!