Seo-mama’s Blog

Local Search Engine Optimization: Proven steps to reaching a larger market

Posted in Uncategorized by Rajib Roy on April 27, 2009

In today’s economy, local search optimization is more important than ever for businesses that serve specific communities. Many still think of it as only a way to connect with customers in their community and that print advertising or even billboards is more effective. The reality is that for a florist, a realtor, a hotel, the visitors to their site are as likely to be someone not even in their state. In fact it’s hard to imagine any business that wouldn’t benefit from having a site that is optimized for local search given the increase in online activity.

Here are some steps you can take to reach customers not just in your area, but those outside it who are also likely prospects.

Put Your Contact Information On Your Site

One would think that this would be a cliché by now, but for whatever reason, many business owners only put their contact information on a single page. Instead, it should be on every page as you never know which page a visitor might discover first or which the search engines will rank for your services. 

If you serve multiple communities then develop a tag line at the bottom of each page that says “we sell widgets in Chicago, Aurora, and Wheaton.” If you’re a hotel by a historic landmark or popular attraction then add this as part of that description. Better yet, do a page about that landmark. Many tourists search for lodging close to the sites they want to visit.

Testimonials are an excellent way to instill confidence in potential customers. It’s also a great way to incorporate other locations into your site. Instead of just listing the name of the person giving a testimonial include their location. Also it goes without saying that your meta tags and descriptions should also incorporate your location. 

Submit to Directories

This is different than developing links to your site, although that is also important. Granted there are hundreds of directories out there that very few people other than those in SEO visit. When it comes to local search, however, there are a number of directories and specialized search engines that it’s crucial you’re listed in. Sites that receive a significant amount of traffic.

The biggest of these are directories such as and,, and . These engines have millions of pages views a month, which means companies, definitely benefit from appearing in these search engines. They allow for free listings, although they will attempt to get you to upgrade to a paid listing.

Business directories often appear when you search for a business on the search engines, including and . Again these have free listings. 

Another valuable resource is your local Chamber of Commerce. Many people moving to a community look at a chamber site to research businesses. 

Reflecting the importance of local search, Google, Yahoo, MSN, and all have their own local listing services. One way to see if your business is listed on some of these sites is to go to . You simply type in your business name and your zip code and it shows if you are listed on Google Local, MSN Live, Yahoo Local, and Best of the Web’s new local service. If you’re not they have a link to these sites where you can submit your information.

Take control of your listings.

Just because your business information is listed on a local directory doesn’t mean it’s complete. It’s crucial that you take ownership of your listings. Google Local is the easiest and the most beneficial to review and revise. If you haven’t taken ownership of your listing, it might be little more than your business name, address, and telephone number. But their Local Business Center allows you to add a wealth of information, including your web site, photo, your categories, even a video. Yahoo and MSN also allow more information, although not to this extent. 

Another reason to review your information is to make sure your listing hasn’t been hijacked. Google claims it has corrected the problem that resulted in local listings being manipulated by others, but it also suggests owners continuously review their data. Both Google and MSN require verification of your relationship to the business either through a phone call, a postcard, or a letter. Only after you’ve verified your ownership, you’re listings will soon be updated. 

Finding the words prospects are using

The problem with many local search campaigns is the lack of data. Services such as Wordtracker and KeywordDiscovery are great if you serve a large market. But for most communities, the data will be so low it might not even turn up in their results. After all there may only be a hundred searches all total in a month for a florist in a town of 50,000. Divide this over all the search engines and the data seems particularly minuscule. Yet, for a florist in that community those 100 searches could be 100 missed opportunities to sell flowers. 

One solution is to run a Google Adwords campaign. Why Google? Obviously because its reach is so strong. Put in any phrase you think prospects might be using – florist, florist delivery, flowers for sale, etc. Then add your community to these phrases. Chances are you can put a bid of five cents for each phrase. Make sure, however, you only run the ad on the Search campaign and not the Content. After a few days you’ll begin to see how many impressions your ad is receiving. Run it at least a month and you’ll see how much interest there is in a specific phrase. 

In the end you may decide to continue with your AdWords campaign. And supplement it with Yahoo, MSN, or one of the previously mentioned local search directories. 

Another way to determine how visitors can find you on the web is through analytics. Google Analytics is one of the easiest to set up and more importantly, it’s free. Once set up properly you can begin to see how prospects are finding your site. A chiropractor may discover that people in their community are typing in their community’s name and specific symptoms, such as Springfield back pain or Springfield migraine treatment. See where you rank for these phrases on all the search engines and optimize your site if necessary. 

Use Pay Per Click Effectively

Running a pay per click is among the simplest things to do. You put in your information, including a credit card, pick out some keywords, write a small ad and start your campaign. Your ad begins almost immediately so you can see within a day how much interest there is in your keywords. Unfortunately in a few days you’ll find either your ads aren’t being clicked on. Or worse that they are being clicked on too much.

One third of all total online ad spending is for local ads. That being said, most local businesses set up their campaigns in manner that costs them money. For example, a realtor may think the keyword California real estate may be beneficial. It will certainly get them a lot of clicks. But if their market is Fresno, most of these clicks will be of little value. Instead establish a specific market when you set up your ad, say Fresno and all visitors within a hundred miles. 

With money so scarce today no business can afford to miss out on any opportunities for a sale. Local search engine optimization can be time consuming, particularly if you serve a large community. The dividends, however, could mean the difference from surviving this economic crisis or becoming another statistic.


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