In the current economic climate, many local businesses are seeking more-effective ways to market.

Since their potential customers are increasingly using the Web as a way (and sometimes the first and only way) to find products and services, local businesses realize that their marketing efforts should include at least some aspects of online marketing.

One of the first strategies that come to mind for many local businesses is search-engine optimization (SEO). And although SEO has proven to be a profitable marketing channel for many businesses, you should ask yourself a few questions before investing in a full-blown SEO campaign.

1. Are there enough people in your local area looking online for what you offer?

The first thing to consider when thinking about SEO for your local business is whether there are enough people searching online (and in your local area) for the products or services your business offers.

One way to find out is to use the free Google AdWords Keyword Tool, which gives a rough estimate on the number of searches done for particular keywords each month. However, some keywords only show up as "Not enough data" rather than an actual number, because those searches don't meet the threshold set by Google.

That doesn't mean you should abandon all hope. Another way to see how many searches are being done online for your type of business is to run a short Google AdWords campaign.

In this case, the campaign would be a way to see whether there are any impressions for the keywords you're trying to target. An impression means that your ad was shown for a particular keyword—i.e., someone actually searched for that keyword. That information can give you a rough estimate of how many searches are done for your target keywords, even if Google's Keyword Tool doesn't show any data.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kenton Newby is CEO and founder of Mix Digital Media, a digital agency specializing in profitable digital marketing campaigns for small business customers.