Optimization for local search is hot. Whereas at one time, web users wanted to gather and get global information, today they increasingly want results that are more personal that literally get them data and information about where they are living.
A study cited in Beginners Guide to SEO from SEOmoz’s indicated that 79% of web users actually search for local specific information. A Search Engine Land report of 2011 indicated that each month, 59% of consumers search for local businesses and 54% of them use town, city and zip codes to localize their search results.
Another Google study on SEO services found that 4 web users out of 5 are conducting local searches when using search engines. 88% of these indicated that in conducting their search, they use smartphones. The majority of mobile local searches were carried out mainly to look for information like directions, business hours, and local store address.
In the same Google SEO study, of those who carried out a local search, 50% visited a store inside a single day. In addition, 18% of those carrying out a local search ended up making a purchase against 7% who carried out a non-local search.
So the bottom line today is that it’s no longer a matter of only optimizing your website for local search, but in fact how fast that can be done. And to give some useful pointers, let’s look at a couple of tips to get you started with your local SEO.
Local Search Keyword Research
Prior to even optimizing your business website, anchor text, or social media profiles for link building, first you need to know and identify what keywords you are going or want to use. Remember that in terms of local search marketing, not only are you targeting terms that industry-are specific, but also geo-specific terms.
Let the search engines know your target locations by including information that is geo-specific, phrases and keywords in the specific website places.
Optimize for Mobile Users
Often, people use their mobile devices when searching for an online local solution to their needs or dilemma. This could be somebody wandering in a new location and they want the nearest coffee shop, or a driver with a broken down car in need of fast local auto repairs. With the growing popularity of smart phones, the majority of people nowadays don’t really plan ahead as in earlier days, and end up searching for solutions and answers “on the go”.
Mobile users also want sites that are fast loading, so you may want to keep that in mind as you design your mobile platform. Having a site that facilitates easy and fast mobile access enables online searchers to find you when they need you.
Optimize your Existing Pages
If already you have pages describing the services or products you offer, the first step is making it clear that you are targeting a specific local market.
This can be done by:
Including your local city or town in page titles and in your descriptions, as well as the service or product you are offering.
Adding your local contact details on the appropriate pages
Adding a map to your site
Claim and Populate your Google Places Spot
Setting up your Business’ Google Places account (if you haven’t) is very important. Then be sure to take some time and fill out all your business information; include your product offerings coupons, photos, or even videos. Ensure you insert in the description fields some of your keywords, but take care not to keyword stuff.
Claiming your Google Places spot also makes it possible for your business to appear in the highly visible Google+ Local mobile searches. Besides Google SEO, you also may want to set up similar accounts with other search engines like Yahoo Local and Bing Local that offer reputable SEO services.
If you are running your business on multiple locations, you then have other local SEO options. These include, but not limited to:
For each location, creating landing pages and using them to group your local business service offerings, without duplicating content.
Using software solutions in localizing your content such as Rio SEO, Yoast local SEO search plugin, or other similar products.
Get Busy on Social Media
Social media is increasingly being shown as very important for Google SEO business SERP rankings, which makes it an obvious route for you if you are looking to get a strong online presence. Often, social media is used as a tool for building and fostering community relationships. Therefore, it will naturally go hand in hand with your local optimizing efforts. Today you can also get an SEO Company to do your social media account management.
There are several business directories where you can get profitable citations which will give you solid links towards improving your ranking, thus making it easy for web users to locate your local business. Largely depending on the chosen directory, you could also possibly add tags and photos. The key thing is to aim for consistency so that wherever searchers find you, they are seeing the same kind of information.
If you want to rank highly, remember that https is an important Google ranking factor. Given the rising popularity of local searches, taking the time to optimize your local business listings page with key search engines like Google has the potential of drastically boosting your business. It’s an excellent idea to employ Google Webmaster Tools towards ensuring that your site gets displayed to target the geographical area you want.
Ask Your Customers
After claiming your business profiles on the major local search directories, your final and important step is boosting your visibility by getting reviews. It really doesn’t matter much if in there you also get several neutral or negative reviews — so long as local online customers are talking about your business, online search engines will consider it more relevant in terms of local search.
When you receive great reviews, make use of them on your site’s local search pages to make both users and search engines even happier. When you get a positive rating it helps to elevate your business, particularly on those sites that allow their users to sort businesses by the number of positive ratings.
If you are operating a local business or one targeting audiences located in a particular geo-location, you may want to move further than the general guidelines for social and search engine optimization.
The most important factor to always bear in mind for local SEO is that when doing local social and search optimization, it takes some time to see tangible results. Don’t get into it expecting miracles within the first one month or even 60 days. This may take months, at times even a whole year, before the process really kicks in and begins to bear fruit. You may also consider the option of engaging a professional SEO Company to boost your efforts.