Local search can make your business more "Googable"

One of the challenges local small business websites face is finding themselves among the myriad of competitors both locally and nationally when visitors search for them using search engines. Local search may be the answer to the small business problem.

If you haven’t noticed, “Google Local” lists three companies BEFORE the number one organic list when surfers search for a keyword and city. For example, “Denver real estate agent” or “Omaha hardware stores.” That type of search engine is becoming more and more valuable and profitable as small businesses want to appear in search engine results and justify their investment in their website.

If your small business website appears on at least the first page of local listings, this could have significant benefits for you and your bottom line. Small businesses need to make some adjustments to their website and their search engine optimization strategies to get into local listings and rank higher there. Here’s what Google looks for beyond registering your website with Google Local:

Your physical address and local keywords listed on your site and pages

Your address and keywords listed on other sites in your relevant market community

Your address and keywords listed in local directories (Better Business Bureau, Yellow Pages, Local Restaurant Association, etc.)

Your address in your domain name (not always possible) and / or Title tag

Customer reviews of your business (these are important to get the best local search positions)

From the above, you can see that you will need to do a few things to get noticed in local search engine results. First, be sure to sign up for Google and Yahoo! Local. This is an easy first step to take and is well worth the time. The same goes for local business organizations. Most have websites with directory pages where you can place links to your website and a description of your business. Make your description attractive to potential visitors.

You should always have the name of your town or city in the title of your home page and elsewhere on your home page. You should have an “About Us” page with all the details of your business location. Use the “vCard” format if possible to list these location details.

Local search is as much about using traditional search engine optimization to optimize your pages for search engine friendly as it does with any website that targets the global market. It’s just that you have to think more locally. This means that your city and address should now be part of your keyword strategy. It is unfortunate that Google gives preference to companies located near the center of a certain city. But this is where traditional SEO helps.

If you’ve looked at Google Local, you may have noticed that they give reviews a lot of relevance. And so do your visitors and potential customers. It is imperative that you look for reviews for your business. Ask your favorite customers to post a review of your business on Yahoo! Local. This will not only give you some PR, but it will also get Google’s attention.

If your business is doing something special, be sure to write a press release or article about what you are doing to promote your business and post it online. You can have them published in your local newspaper to do this as they most likely have an online site as well as the traditional newspaper. Make sure to put your website URL in the press release or article.

Local search is simply an intensification of your traditional search engine optimization efforts. For small businesses that only trade locally, it is a must if you have a website. Going locally on the internet is worth the time and expense. It’s free advertising that will give you a great return on your advertising investment.

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