So you recently went to search for your local small business site and wondered why three other similar businesses came up before yours? The answer is – they’ve been doing their homework. Meaning that they’ve taken the time to optimize their sites for local search, which can be very rewarding. If you pass on this, it can be very costly, and your local competitors will scoop away your web and real traffic on daily basis. We all know that being on the first page of any search engine can make or break a majority of companies, and since sites like Google are known to list up to three local results before the organic list, it behooves you to start priming your site for local results. Here are five quick ways to do so. Invest an hour of your time following these tips, and it could pay off greatly.
Editing Your Listing in Local Search Engines and Directories
There are obviously some key players that deal in local searches, and you need to get familiar with them as soon as possible. Most of these sites will let you register for free and edit your information. Some will let you add quite a bit, while others only let you edit the basics. Regardless, you need to start this process right away, as it’s one of the first steps in getting that local organic traffic. Here is a list of sites that you should check out first, as they carry a lot of weight in the industry.
There are many more smaller local directories and search engines out there, and if you’re reading this, then I’m sure you know how to find them, but starting with these will at least get you on the right track, and you only have to do it once (unless your information changes, obviously). If your budget allows for it, some of the sites listed above offer extra advertising to go along with your listing and it’s highly recommended to try it out as it might give you that extra conversion boost that you need to succeed.
Display Business Info Clearly on Your Site
This is another huge factor in determining your listing in the local search results. You see, local traffic refers to visitors who searched not only for a general keyword or keyphrase, but also used some sort of geographical term in their search (like a zipcode, area code, street name, city, etc…). So if you think about this, you can obviously deduce that you need to have these geographical terms listed on your site somewhere. The more the merrier. You should start by adding a footer with your business name, address, and phone number it in, so that it appears on all pages. Also, it’s wise to include your target geographical keywords and key phrases within your page titles, if it’s possible to do so. The more local and targeted info you can pack into your site, the better chance that Google and others will pick it up and display your site when providing relevant, local search results. Find out how the locals describe your kind of business, and include these phrases and descriptions on every page. This can do nothing but help you in the short and long term success of your business/website.
Check your WHOIS information
This one is the easiest to perform, and simplest to explain. When you register your domain name, you have to put in a registered address. Make sure that you use your business information and not your personal information! If you’re unsure, I suggest heading over to whois.net and finding out what address your website is registered to. Most of the time if you need to change it, you can do this by logging into your registrar account and making the appropriate changes or contact whoever is in charge of your domain name. Very easy fix, and since it’s been suggested that Google takes this into consideration when delivering local results, it’s best to do this sooner than later.
Start Getting Links
We all know the importance of gaining backlinks to your site using relevant anchor text. This is equally important for delivering local traffic to your site. When working on your link building campaign, make sure you have links pointing to you with your specific geographical terms and local search phrases as the anchor text. This is very important, as again, it works the same way as it would for targeting organic traffic for a specific keyword. If anything, some inbound links using your address and/or phone number as the anchor text will go a long way. Any inbound links with location information will help, so it’s wise to add this to your SEO campaign as soon as possible. Make sure that when you release a company press release, to include your address and phone number – it’s an easy way to get sites to link to something that has your business information on it.
Don’t forget Mobile Search
Keep in mind that more and more people are using cell phones and pda’s these days to search for businesses on the go. A smart move on your part would be to make your site more accessible for these mobile searches. More and more websites are implementing mirrored sites specifically for mobile search users. Also, if your business is near a good restaurant or hotel, make sure to include those phrases in your page somewhere, so that when people on the go are searching for these other businesses, yours has a chance to come up. Remember not to be afraid to trade links with surrounding businesses, as long as they’re not competitors, it will help you both out in the long run. Mobile internet search users can turn into an easy sale if they can find you.
To conclude, optimizing your site for local search can be done fairly easily for the amateur site owner. Not only will it help you get more traffic, but it will also put you a step above all of your competitors, which will make you appear to be more reputable and on the ball.
Sujan Patel is Director of Search at Single Grain, which specializes in Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Marketing