One of the quickest ways for your customers to find you is via the Internet. But because the online space has grown so competitive, onsite optimization of a website for a keyword you wish to dominate isn’t enough. You have to go local to target customers more effectively.
Local search is becoming more and more crucial because of the growing number of searches for local service providers. That’s why an increasing number of business owners are now realizing the importance of optimizing their sites for local search terms, getting listed on local directories and claiming their profiles on major search engines’ local listing services.
In this article, I’m going to cover three of the most important and most effective ways to get your business to dominate the local search results.
#1 Optimize your site for local search
The search engines should be able to quickly and easily figure out which area, city or region your business serves. To assist with this, include a specific page on your site where your business’ physical address is clearly specified. Ideally, your business address should be included in the footer of your website, too.
Give clues to the search engines about your region by writing content about the city where your business is located, or have key terms associated with your area around your website. Write about local landmarks and other places that are unique to your area.
On-page optimization is key to not only helping search engines identify what your website is about, but also which geographic area your business serves. After optimizing your website for local SEO, it’s time to focus on the next crucial tactic.
#2 Claim Your Business’ Profile on Google+ Pages (Formerly Google Places)
Google+ Pages is an indispensable local search tool. There are many other local search tools in which you should list your business, such as those by Yahoo! and Bing, but Google+ Pages is the most important, due to Google’s dominance of the search industry.
Google+ Pages allows businesses to update and easily manage their company’s physical location so that they appear properly in Google Maps, and, most importantly, in Google’s organic search results.
When listing your business on Google+ Pages and other similar tools, be sure to double check that your address is correct, and matches exactly the way you have listed it on your website and in other directories. Be sure to also include your phone number (use a local number as opposed to a 1-800 number to boost local search relevance) as well as your business email address. Once you’ve set up your Google+ page, it’s time to list your business across the Web.
#3 Get listed on local online directories
Off-page optimization improves your rankings by getting inbound links, and, most importantly, citations. Creating high quality links to your site from third party websites is seen by the search engines as a sort of vote of confidence that other websites show for your site, and play heavily into ranking algorithms. For national SEO, links are more important, but for local SEO, citations play a more important role.
Citations are simply mentions (not links) of your brand name, business address, and phone number. Ideally, you want citations in as many locations as possible, and they should match your “official” business information exactly in order to receive the most value. For example, if part of your business address is listed as “Suite 915” in Google Places, but you build citations with “Ste. 915”, your citations won’t have as much value (because Google can’t be certain that the citation matches your business). So, pay attention to detail when building citations!
One of the best ways to create high quality links and citations to your site for local SEO is to list your domain on local online directories. But don’t list your website on just any directory; aim for authoritative, well-respected directories such as WhitePages, Yelp, SuperPages, CitySearch, and Local.com.
Follow best practices when listing your business in directories. Be sure to have it listed under the correct geographic location, and remember to always include the exact address with your listing. Also, be sure to have your business listed under the appropriate category.
You can list your business in as many local web directories as you want; the more the better, as long as you only target strong, authoritative directories. For a good, updated list of local directories to target (and to find out whether your business is missing from any of them), try the following sources:
I hope this post helps you pursue your local SEO initiative. Proper local SEO ensures that your business will easily be found by your target customers. By properly optimizing your site for local search terms, getting listed on local directories and claiming your profile on Google+ Pages, you’ll be well on your way to dominating local search results.
For more information on optimizing your business for local search, drop me a line. I’ll be happy to help you design and execute your local SEO strategy!