A conversation with a friend about Hawaii businesses proved very interesting. I had been telling him that I believed many, though not all, of the Hawaii businesses we lost might have been saved if they had done more online marketing. Specifically SEO, targeted both at Hawaii prospects as well as at those outside the Islands.
My friend made the good point that Hawaii business is conducted on a word-of-mouth basis. Success locally often comes down to recommendations and referrals, one person to another. That’s true in most places, but it takes on a whole new dimension in Hawaii.
Therefore, many Hawaii businesses see little use in the Internet, and that includes SEO. Hawaii runs differently so Internet/Search Marketing are seen by many as something mainland companies do, but it serves little purpose here.
I don’t share that view wholly. In fact, SEO and Internet Marketing can reinforce that word of mouth, which is so important here. Hawaii consumers/clients are turning to search engines more and more. The younger generations here are building the same Google habits their mainland counterparts have had for some years.
A Hawaii business, with a strong SEO driven presence, can capitalize on the local ways by using testimonials, the ‘social’ web (such as Facebook, YouTube, etc.) and other internet tools in the traditional local business ways.
Another use would be to reinforce their local presence. A Hawaii searcher might look for a business or service and THEN ask around for opinions. If you can get in front of them, you have a much better chance as they’ll be asking around about you, not your competitor. Just make sure to keep your business clean so that any feedback they get is good.
Hawaii SEO has arrived as a viable local business tool. It just needs the right people to realize it before we lose more of our valued Hawaii businesses. We’ve lost enough of them already.
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