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Optimizing Your Business Website for Local Search


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Search has gone local, and if you're not optimizing your website to take advantage then you're missing out on a huge opportunity. This whitepaper gives you everything you need to know to grab a piece of your local online and offline market.

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Optimizing Your Business Website for Local Search

  1. 1. My BusinessOPENOptimizingfor LocalSearch
  2. 2. According to Comscore, a leading internetmarketing research company, 14 billion onlinesearches took place each month in 2011, and 20percent of those searches were for products andservices with queries that have a local intent.More than 2 billion local searches take placeeach month.Local businesses are the target for 9 out of 10people who use search engines. 97 percent ofthose searchers click on the first page of theresults. 84 percent of these searchers still owna printed directory, but that number has been indecline consistently since 2007. The likelihoodthat those printed directories will actually beused continues to fall even though they are keptaround.Delivering a great local search optimization strategy to support your content marketing efforts createstargeted marketing messages, measurable results and that leads to improved return on investment (ROI).Local search optimization delivers all of this while attracting business in the right geographic area.Targeted messagesProducts and services in the right spot when a buyer is looking throws traditional marketing methods inreverse by pulling customers toward the business as opposed to pushing all messages out and hoping to hitthe mark. The “pull” model works to build traffic among the customers who matter because they find thebusiness not the other way around.Local search optimization takes this a step further. Not only is the product in front of buyers looking to buy,but the goods are available in the right city and maybe even the right neighborhood. Products and servicessit waiting, ready to pull customers to the purchase decision in the right location rather than the outdatedmodel of pushing items to EVERYONE through a traditional method such as directories, print ads andbroadcast messages. The strategy of throwing mud at the wall to see what will stick.MeasurableSearch results, site traffic, conversion rates, as well as sales/leads — these things can be measured withaccuracy through analytics, mass e-mail services and on social networking sites. When local search isoptimized and the results tracked, adjustments can be made at a moment’s notice, not when the next printrun is scheduled or the next big event is coming. The right medium can be identified and failing tacticsscrapped. More importantly, marketers prove the success of a campaign beyond all doubt to the client.And naturally this leads to improved . . .Return on InvestmentThe success or failure of all marketing endeavors rests on ROI. This is Marketing 101.Local search tactics are inexpensive and that’s the first step toward improving ROI, right? According toHubspot’s “2010 State of Inbound Marketing” report, spending on lead generation is 60 percent less amongcompanies devoting at least half of their budget to inbound marketing versus spending one-half of leadgeneration dollars on outbound tactics. Lower costs paired with accurate reporting and prudent adjustmentsspell ROI victory.
  3. 3. Understanding Google’s local search and how it can build trafficThe first key to figuring out local search optimization for Google is to understand what they hope toaccomplish as a business. Google doesn’t offer their search engine out of the kindness of their heart. Theywant to make money like everyone else in the beautiful capitalist society of America.They strive to provide the best search experience possible with relevant information from the most crediblesources available. When searchers receive the information they want on a consistent basis, they come backto again and again. This leads to big traffic numbers, ads sold and large revenues collected.To accomplish this, Google tracks, ranks and rates incomprehensible amounts of data with highly detailedalgorithms. An algorithm is an effective method expressed as a finite list of well-defined instructions forcalculating a function. They are used for calculation, data processing and automated reasoning. Indexingand manipulating all that data requires the use of servers scattered all of over the world. Businesses canproduce content and an online presence that connects to what all those servers are looking for, but theyneed to follow the rules.Setting up the best possible local search listing in Google PlacesBy now you understand the importance of constantly refining the keywords that optimize your site for searchengines. Local keyword optimization requires that your business not only use the best keywords, but thebest, most targeted local keywords and it is more important than ever to make sure your site is properlylisted so you products and services can be found easily on relevant searches. Easy is the key. Customers donot want to struggle to buy something.Get started on your listing at Google Places. This is where you “claim” your listing. The Google folksprobably have a listing for your business already. What you can do is refine the information for free, andmore importantly, place your business on the all-important Google Maps that pop up after almost everysearch.Let’s get going on this.Take advantage of all the fields in Google PlacesWe understand that those long, arduous forms may seem like annoying obstacles to overcome, but they’rereally opportunities to optimize. Each field needs attention.● When given the opportunity, use descriptions thatdefine what you do, but make them actionable andwork in key phrases that tweak the search engines. Notjust the key phrases, but local key phrases, right?● Study the entire list of business categories to find theones the match your business and select as many as theform allows.● Moving on to the multimedia section of the processwe see a request for images and video. If you don’thave any images, grab your smart phone and takesome. Remember we are here for the local searchers.Those searchers may be familiar with your business and an image will confirm who you are beyond alldoubt. Video is trickier to produce, but worth it.● Add as many images and videos as possible.
  4. 4. ● Pay attention to the file names you give to the images and videos. If you sell kids shoes, make sureto include that in the file name. (e.g. shoes_for_kids.jpg; kids_shoes.flv) Each image or video createsanother URL. If your name or key phrases appear in the file name, they appear in the URL. Searchengines can see this.● The “Additional Details” section offers another chance to enter relevant key phrases like “shoes fitfor kids” or “all sizes of shoes for kids.”Give your local business listing an assist with SEO basicsIt takes a consistent effort to keep the search engine optimization up-to-date on your primary website, andit is still a necessary task for improving your ranking on Google. Those old ways of optimizing a website stillneed to be done.● Make sure custom title tags are accurate, add image tags and create a new site map often. Manyonline resources are available for creating site maps.● Include a physical address and phone number with an <address> tag on your site’s contact page andhome page. You know what? Put an address on ALL pages of site. It’s fine to include a P.O. Box, butwithout a physical address, Google Maps don’t have anything to target.● Attracting local searches requires local content. Take a look around your neighborhood and createcontent that will be familiar to the people in your part of the world. If you are selling kids shoes inWichita, KS, write a high-quality story about the start of soccer season in Wichita and the need forproper footwear. Don’t forget to add keywords in the opening paragraph and close with a call toaction.Set your Geographic Location in Google Webmaster Tools. Remember the results seen in Ireland differ fromwhat is seen in Kansas. (That’s what this whole ridiculous white paper is about.) Google (and Google Maps)works to return the most relevant information and you need to tell the folks at Google where your businesslives. Visit Google’s Geotargeting page for guidance.More local optimization to be doneFinally, we can spread our wings beyond Google by entering your business information on some of theendless directory sites available.●●●●●●●●● Kudzu.comThese directory sites lead the way, but remember we are talking LOCAL so don’t overlook the newspapersand tabloids in your area. They frequently offer local business directories and search engines can find thosetoo.While you’re entering information on those local publication websites, send them a press release about yourbusiness. Many of those local publications let you post a press release carte blanche. Who knows, maybe areporter will be intrigued enough to write about you.You did not miss the social media boat. It is there for you to help multiply your reach.
  5. 5. We recommend that businesses that don’t have a social media presence create one either at the time oflaunching a new web site or while maintaining a well-established older site. That’s pretty much like yourdad saying at Thanksgiving that he only like two kinds of pie — hot and cold.It’s always a good time to create a good social media presence much like it is always a good time to eat pie.You are not too late. DO IT!Social networks help local business listings by pushing your location out to the web and giving your greatlocal content another home.● Use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to publish news, upcoming events, sales and unique features ofyour business. Don’t forget the link back to your site.● Fan pages on Facebook start discussions with locals, which in turn creates a buzz on your street andmakes your business a big duck in the local pond. Again, link back to your site.● Create a company profile for your business on LinkedIn and ask employees to create LinkedIn profiles.LinkedIn is also an excellent place to attract local talent. Did we mention linking back to your site?● YouTube stands equal to the mighty Facebook and LinkedIn as a social media tool. Grab your digitalvideo device and create something goofy about your business. Don’t make the video too long andcomplicated.Optimizing for local AND mobileThe searcher with the phone in his/her hand wants to know local information now, and they are ready toact. Comscore estimates that 95 percent of smartphone users have looked up local information on theirdevice and 88 percent take action within a day. The multitude of locally focused apps (Groupon, Yelp,etc...) further drives this surge with reviews, deals and more maps.Preparing to catch those mobile fish can be very similar to the points made above. Always make sure yourbusiness name, address and phone number go everywhere your business goes online. If you moved recently,update your information early and make sure to delete old content with incorrect addresses.Grab a camera and publish at least 20 images of your business. Figure out how to make simple, short videos.The mobile user operates on a much tighter timeline than the searcher sitting in front of a computer. Imagescreate instant recall and recognition of your business. If the mobile searcher wants pizza right now, theywant a brand and a place they recognize. Without images, no recognition takes place.Monitor your local presenceThis white paper should put you on the right path toward setting up a strong local presence on searchengines, but like anything else maintenance is needed. Check the sites where you listed your businessperiodically to see that your information is still correct.WAS THIS HELPFUL? SHARE OR CONNECT WITH US ONLINE!