SEO Musts for Local Business – how a Google Search can bring you customers
While the Internet might be global in nature, to us it makes no sense to concentrate on international reach when your customers live in your city or even in your neighbourhood. You might be wondering how this is possible when the Web is global and Google doesn’t classify sites according to their location.
Here is how you can go local with SEO:
1. Use your location in your keywords
The first trick is to use your location in your keywords. For example, if you are in London and you sell car insurance, your most important keyphrase should be “car insurance London” because this keyphrase contains your business and your location and will drive people who are looking for car insurance in London in particular.
Metatags still matter (somewhat) for search engines and you shouldn’t forget to include your location, together with your other keywords in the metatags of the pages of your site. Of course, you must have your location in the keywords you use in the body text, otherwise it is a bit suspicious when your body text doesn’t have your location as a keyword but your tags are stuffed with it.
3. Use your location in your body text
Keywords in the body text count a lot and you can’t afford to skip them. If your web copy is optimized for “car insurance” only, this won’t help you rank well with “car insurance London”, so make sure that your location is part of your keywords.
4. Take advantage of Google Places and Yahoo Local
Google Places and Yahoo Local are great places to submit to because they will include you in their listings for a particular location.
It could be a bit tricky to get organic backlinks with your location as anchor text because some keywords with location don’t sound very natural – for instance, “car insurance London” isn’t grammatically correct and you will hardly get an organic inline link with it but you can use it in the Name field to comment on blogs. If the blog is dofollow, you will still get a backlink with anchor text that helps for SEO.
6. Get included in local search engines
Global search engines, such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo can bring you lots of traffic but depending on your location, local search engines might be a good idea. A local search engine could mean a search engine for the area (though it is not very likely to have regional search engines) or more likely for your country. For instance, Baidu is a great option if you are selling on the Chinese market.
7. Get listed in local directories
In addition to local search engines, you need to try your luck with local directories. You might think that nobody reads directory listings, but this isn’t exactly true. For instance, Yellow Pages are one of the first places where people look when searching for a local vendor for a particular product.
8. Run locally-targeted ad campaigns
One of the most efficient ways to drive targeted, local traffic to your site is with the help of locally-targeted ad campaigns. PPC ads and classifieds are the two options that work best – at least for most webmasters.
9. Do occasional checks of your keywords
Occasionally checking the current search volume of your keywords is a good idea because shifts in search volumes are quite typical. Needless to say, if people don’t search for “car insurance London” anymore because they have started using other search phrases and you continue to optimize for “car insurance London”, this is a waste of time and money. Also, keep an eye on the keywords your competitors use – this will give you clue which keywords work and which don’t.
Social media can drive more traffic to a site than search engines and for local search this is also true. Facebook, Twitter, and the other social networking sites have a great sales potential because you can promote your business for free and reach exactly the people you need. Local groups on social sites are especially valuable because the participants there are mainly from the region you are interested in.
11. Ask for reviews and testimonials
Client reviews and testimonials are ideal for your business, serving almost like letters of recommendation for your business. However, as far as SEO is concerned, they could have another role. There are review sites where you can publish reviews and testimonials (or ask your clients to do it) that will drive business to you. Some of these sites include Yelp and Merchant Circle, but it is quite likely that there are regional or national review sites you can also post at.
12. Create separate pages for your different locations
When you have business in several locations, this makes the task a bit more difficult because you can’t possibly optimize for all of them – you can’t have a keyphrase such as “car insurance London, Berlin, Paris, New York”. In this case the solution is to create separate pages for your different locations. If your locations span the globe, you can also create different sites on different, country-specific domains (i.e. uk.co for GB, .de for Germany, etc.) but this is only reasonable to do if your business is truly multinational. Otherwise just a separate page for each of your locations will do.
These simple tips on how to optimize your site for local searches are a must if you rely on the local market. Maybe you are already doing some of them and you know what works for you and what doesn’t. If you haven’t tried them all, try them now and see if this will have a positive impact on your rankings – and your business!