If you’re a small business that hasn’t given much thought to how you can benefit from local search, you’re missing out. Optimizing for local search is a fanatic way to reach consumers and get traffic to your site. Phone books are good for little more than testing your strength these days as people turn to search engines in order to be introduced to local businesses that can meet their needs.
Optimizing for local search requires the same rigorous SEO work required for any page, but there are some additional things you can do to boost your appearance for local searches.
Here are SEO 11 tips to make sure you are getting the most out of local:
- Claim your spot on Google Places – Set up a Google Places account if you haven’t already, and be sure to spend some time filling out all your information. Include photos, coupons, product offerings, or even videos! In description fields, be sure to insert some of your keywords, but don’t go overboard. Also set up similar accounts with Bing Local and Yahoo Local. Claiming your spot on Google Places also enables your business to appear for Google+ Local mobile searches.
- Optimize for geo-targeted keywords – Include city names in your title, h2, meta tags, and content.
- Include “About Us” and “Contact Us” pages to target local terms—Don’t forget to include business hours, directions, and contact info. If you’re a restaurant, include a menu as well. Use this content as additional opportunities to reinforce your location.
- Get yourself rated – Good reviews and shiny yellow stars can be huge advantages. Encourage reviews with promotional offers, or ask for feedback via social media and your mailing lists.
- Spiffy up your social media—Social media is often used as a tool to foster community and build relationships, so naturally it goes hand in hand with optimizing for local. Social media has been shown to be increasingly important for SERP rankings, making it an obvious choice for any business looking to have an online presence.
- Different locations? Create different landing pages—If you have multiple locations, consider creating a landing page for each location and optimizing each page for appropriate location keywords.
- Links from other related local businesses—If you’re a store selling dog toys, consider reaching out to the local dog shelter, animal hospital, or even local bakery that makes dog-friendly treats. Of course you won’t get help from direct competitors, but you might be able to exchange links and information with some related businesses.
- Get listed in directories—There are a number of business directories you can get citations in, giving you solid links that can improve your ranking and make it easy for searchers to find your local business.
Get citations in:
- Express Update
Also get listed in local directories like your Better Business Bureau and local Chamber of Commerce.
- Include the HTML [address] tag—It helps to bracket your business address with the [address] [/address] tag. Each citation you get from a reputable site is a vote in favor of your legitimate membership at that geo-location.
- Create a mobile version of your site—People often use their mobile devices when they are searching for a local solution to their problem—wandering in a new city, perhaps they are looking for the closest coffee shop, or are stranded and need local car repairs. With the increasing prominence of smart phones, people don’t plan ahead as often and end up looking for solutions “on the go”. Having a site that allows easy mobile access enables searchers to discover you in their desperate hour of need.
- Old-School advertising still matters—Buying an ad in local papers or church bulletins makes your business familiar to community members, even if they don’t remember you until they are searching for local house cleaning services, see your business appear and think, “Oh, right, I know who they are!” That little extra recognition could mark the difference between you and your competitors.
Tapping in to the local search results can be huge, especially for small businesses. I hope this advice has helped you with your local online marketing campaign. Do you have any additional tips for optimizing for local search?