Local search is red hot right now. I have been optimizing local search listings for a number of local businesses lately.
These businesses cover a wide range of niches, so I have had a really good look at the Cape Cod area local search listings scene. From what I have seen in my research for clients, there are many local businesses missing out on more customers by not optimizing their local search presence.
What is local search marketing?
Local search marketing involves making sure that a company’s listings on Google Local, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Merchant Circle, Yelp, etc… are up to date and optimized to capture leads on the hyper-local level.
By now you must have seen the local map listings on Google, Yahoo and Bing. Here is an example of a Google Local result for “landscaping supplies” targeted to the West Dennis area:
Optimizing your website for local search
The second part to a good local search strategy is making sure your website will also pull visitors from regular web searches, outside of your free local map listings.
Most search queries these days are more than four words long. This means searchers are getting better at searching and they know that the more keywords they use, the more accurate their search results will be.
“One out of five searches on Google are related to location” says Google Maps, Earth, and Local VP John Hanke.
In the local search arena, this means instead of just typing in “house painter” people are typing “interior house painter wellfleet ma” which will yield better results and enable them to find just what they need in less time.
Now you might say, I can add a list of all the towns that my business serves to my website somewhere, like in the footer, or make a page for each city/town that is basically the same except for the city or town name. That may work to some extent, but much of that is considered keyword stuffing or spamming and may work against you or even trigger a penalty.
There are many other techniques that can be applied to your website that will yield fantastic local search rankings and results without it being seen as keyword stuffing or search engine spamming.
Why is local search such a big deal?
Apart from regular internet users looking for goods and services in your area, mobile internet usage is growing at an astounding rate and local search is a perfect companion. You punch “pizza” into Google on your smartphone and you get all the pizza places right around you wherever you are. Or you punch in “gift shop”, or “auto repair”, etc… you get the picture, it’s huge.
Excel at local and you can really increase your bottom line.
Now you might say I already updated my business info at all these places, so I am all set. Well, you might be, but chances are that you missed the boat.
You see there are many tricks that the average business owner will not be aware of when adding or updating a local business listing at any of these places. If you don’t take advantage of these opportunities you may be missing out on tons of local referrals.
In most cases a small business’ best customer is in their immediate area, in their neighborhood. This is the kind of customer you will get through local search optimization if it is done right.
Unfortunately, your competition is also competing for these same customers in your neighborhood. Unlike Google Adwords and Facebook Advertising which costs money, most of these local listings are free of charge, which makes the barrier to compete non existent.
Just because these listings are free doesn’t mean that they should be taken lightly. These listings if done right, can make or break your online presence. This is an excellent opportunity, especially in today’s economy, to drive leads and more business.
Guide to Learning Local SEO and Local Search Optimization gives us the following list of what goes into a proper local search optimization strategy and the order of the tasks at hand.
- Market Research
- Keyword Focus and Use of Local Modifiers
- Optimizing Your Website for Local SEO
- Creating or Claiming Existing Local Business Listings
- Optimizing Local Business Profile Listings
- Building Citations and Links to Enhance Listing Rankings
- Encouraging Customer Testimonials and Reviews
- Staying Up to Date with Changes in Local SEO
The only other thing I would add to this list is ongoing online reputation management. Monitoring your online presence for new reviews and other citations which is believed to have a big impact on local search rankings.
If you want to learn more about Google Local ranking factors, Dave Cosper takes a crack at explaining it in Layman’s terms.
Ranking = Location + Information + Corroboration + Input +
There is much to consider when mapping out a local search optimization plan for effectively marketing your business and a lot at stake here.
Choose the wrong keywords, write ineffective or off target business description/website copy, or get a few bad reviews and you may be dead in the water.
If you are serious about your website competing in local search, you should contact CapeLinks for a free consultation.