Optimizing Your Website for Local Searches
In his book Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Website, SEO and online marketing expert Jon Rognerud shows you how to build a high-performance website and get top ranking on all search engines. In this edited excerpt, the author offers a few tips to help you improve your ranking in local search results.
Local search engine optimization (SEO) isn't different from "regular" SEO -- it can be just as time consuming and competitive. The same rules apply: good content and quality links. However, the tactics are slightly different in some areas.
The trends show an increase in local search and from mobile devices. By the end of 2013, predictions indicated that one out of every three searches would be mobile. In addition to search, add additional user tools such as Twitter, Foursquare, TwitHawk and Facebook, and we have ourselves a sizable audience to satisfy! People are drawn to local activities, and that includes search.
To learn more, start with Google Places For Business by getting a free account and make sure to watch the training videos. Google Places has a lot of features, including power tools that track actions (how many times users showed interest in your business listing), clicks for more information on maps, driving directions or direct clicks, as well as impressions (how many times users saw your business listing as a local search result). You can also add your images, videos, offers/promos, coupons and more. As you'll see, it will be important to get ratings and references, too.
While much focus is placed on Google Places, don't forget to also register at:
One easy way to find out if you're listed is to search for your brand name. Include the city or locale you're supposed to be listed for and see what results you get. For instance, if you're a tax attorney in Beverly Hills, California, you would search "tax attorney beverly hills" and see what results you get. As you hover over the local results, the company information changes on the right side. You'll quickly get a sense of how well your local meta data has been optimized by the amount of data available, such as photos, videos, reviews and more. You can see further activity by visiting your local Google+ page.
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Next, select from the categories list that best describes your business. Before you do, make sure to also review the competition. Check to see where the top listings are listing theirs. You can add up to five categories to describe your business. Once you start typing, the Google Places categories system will display related categories.
Continue to add as much information as possible, including your hours, payment types accepted, email address, phone number, URL/web address, photos, videos and coupons. It's all there--try to fill out each field if it's appropriate. Go make some videos, upload them to YouTube, and link them back to your local profile on Google Places. Screen cam your PowerPoint presentations. You can include up to ten pictures and five videos.
Getting Listed in Local Directories
Powerful citations from local business directories like Yelp and Merchant Circle are a good start. Here's a list of directories to get you started:
Local SEO Resources
- Google Places User Guide
- Moz.com (read this!)
- Local SEO guide
- Blumenthals Blog
- Bright Local
- Powered by Search
- Search Engine Land
- Search Engine Watch
Make sure that all your information is correct, and keep the formatting the same across all locations.
Reviews, citations, and links are also powerful drivers to earn a top ranking within local search. Much like external backlinks drive much of the Google algorithm for ranking, so it is for local search. Don't be afraid to ask for reviews. Offer special incentives and discounts for return visits to your office. Add a postcard or business card to your office invoice mailings, asking your customers to review the visit and talk about the experience. Don't try to spam this system by asking all your friends to review you in a week! Use a solid and ethical business approach--and get references from BBB.org, chamber of commerce in your city and the top local directories.
Using pay-per-click, you can target your local area via maps. This, combined with SEO strategies from global to local, can yield strong results in traffic and targeting.
If you're looking for local directories, these resources can help:
- Better Business Bureau
- The Business Journals
- Dex One
- Insider Pages
- Judy's Book
- Best of the Web
- AOL Yellow Pages
Here are a few niche marketplaces to investigate:
Jon Rognerud is a recognized authority on SEO, who has spent more than 20 years creating and managing web and marketing projects from small to large companies, including positions at online giant Yahoo!. He is the founder of Chaosmap.com, a leading search marketing company in Los Angeles, CA. He plans, builds and delivers profit-making SEO, PPC and Social Media training, consulting as well as breakthrough speaking seminars. He also blogs on his website, http://www.jonrognerud.com