5 Quick Ways To Optimize For Local Search

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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.

  1. Google Maps
  2. Yahoo! Local
  3. MSN Live Local
  4. SuperPages
  5. YellowPages
  6. Switchboard
  7. CitySearch

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

Sujan Patel
Sujan Patel has over 12 years of digital marketing experience and has helped hundreds of clients increase web traffic, boost user acquisition, and grow their businesses. He’s currently the VP of Marketing at When I Work, the top rated employee scheduling software. In addition to his role at When I Work Sujan co-founded ContentMarketer.io and wrote the book on Growth Hacking titled 100 Days of Growth.
Sujan Patel
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  • http://www.allbuziness.com/ Business Directory

    Local search will only become more important. As people become more aware of ‘Local is Better’, they will be using these search engines to find local suppliers…

  • http://www.yellowbot.com yellowbot

    Hi Sujan!

    Most, if not all, of the local search sites you listed use 3rd party base data to get a database of all the businesses in the US (and, in some case, elsewhere). Some of these providers include InfoUSA, Axciom, or Localeze. Users should update the data at these 3 major providers and add enhanced data such as their URL, hours, etc. Most of this data will trickle down to all the sites you listed and elsewhere (depending on whether they have an agreement to include the enhanced data). It usually takes time for this information to flow down (depends on the data provider and the site and how quickly they update the information) as well so doing it directly at the sites definitely helps speed things up as well…but for those updating their info on sites, make sure to update it at yellowbot too! … sorry, had to include a plug ūüôā

  • http://www.yellowbot.com/user/ask Ask Bj√łrn Hansen


    I wanted to add that going to some of the data distributors / aggregators like InfoUSA or Localeze/Amacai to get information corrected can go a long way too. Actually, even calling your phone company and getting your entry in the paper phonebook updated can help.

    This of course takes AGES to filter down to all the sites, but it will work.

    For quick gratification I must recommend going to YellowBot.com, find your entry there and make sure it has a URL (and add it if not). We have a deliberate policy of showing links “straight” (no redirections or nofollow tags) in a prominent spot of the page.

    We do that to make it easier for our users to find and use the link, but also to make the search engines give the sites of the local businesses we link to proper weight as they should have.

    – ask

  • http://ferenc.biz/ Ferenc

    It takes time for the information to update, but submit everywhere and it will pay off. Review-rating data from other sites may also have an effect.

  • http://develooper.com/ Ask Bj√łrn Hansen

    Haha – my semi-anonymous colleague above beat me to it! I guess we can conclude that Search Engine Journal is well read at YellowBot HQ. ūüôā

    – ask

  • http://www.visionefx.net Rick Vidallon

    Don’t forgoet infousa!
    Ask.com Local Listings (Click on ‘Add a Business Record’)Ask.com pulls most of their local results through Info-USA.

    The best part is, search engines and directories are making it easier than ever to increase your visibility on the Web. All major search engines and directories have made searching for “local information” a high priority.

    At this writing, most of the largest search engines and Web directories will allow you to list your business for free, although they do offer upgrades that provide you the benefit of posting your logo, photos and other goodies. However Yellow pages takes a number of weeks. more about here:

    Nice article Sujan!

  • http://www.indian-tourism.us lata

    good job.

  • http://www.thegolfballfactory.com/ Oneunder

    Very helpful and informative.

  • http://www.quality-web-solutions.com Deb India

    Dear Sujan,

    Thanks for a nice article and also thanks to SearchNewz to publish this. Question is that if I optimize my site for local is it effect to my global search? Is it true or not?


  • http://blog.sendtraffic.com/ SendTraffic SEO Blog

    I would also include trying to locate and list on location-specific directories. If the theme of the site is about your location, that link is more relevant to your location as well and may help your local rankings.

  • http://www.1to1million.com/2007/11/how-does-google-know-where-your-web.html Set the Geographical Local of Your Website Manually

    If you do not have an local domain extension or TLD and you are not hosting locally Google now have a way to force it so that you come up in a search query limited to only websites from your country…



  • http://www.logo-n-stitch.co.uk Graham

    Hi, good points made here, keep on writing.Graham – http://www.logo-n-stitch.co.uk

  • http://www.saferoofcleaning.com Chris Tucker

    This is a right on article.
    The importance of Local Search can’t be overstated.
    In my town of Tampa, FL Google is returning local results BEFORE the web sites!

  • http://www.007airportlimodenver.com karim iraqi

    Thank you for the advice, but how offten do i need to work on my local listing, and how many can i have

  • http://www.denvertransportationservice.net Denver Transportaion Service

    We provide a flat-rate service for private town car or SUV, regardless of the number of passengers. There is no per-person charge, as with most shuttle and taxi companies, and we make no unscheduled stops along the way. 303-514-4057

  • http://dndmediagroup.com Jon Scott

    This was a great post. It answered most of my questions. I am building on my local campaign and I will use the things I learned here and apply them.

  • http://www.stalbanswebdesignseo.com st albans

    real good post Sujanm thank you very much. but you know i can’t believe how many people did use their keywords for their web sites in the the link text that will be their name, maybe they did want to seem rude…as it can be ….but it is the best text for the link to get your keywords in there..Sujan thanks again i’m a believer
    J – web design pro

  • http://www.IMAHawaii.com Bob Sommers

    Thanks for the great post.
    Does Google really pay attention to the Whois information when it selects business for its 10-pack? I’ve not heard of that before.
    .-= Bob Sommers´s last blog ..Keyword Research – Google Sets =-.

  • http://www.coloradoairporttransportation.com Top Chauffeur

    I have notice alot of business thru local directories thank you for the tips.

  • http://www.reactorr.com online branding

    Excellent info – in the comments too!

  • http://www.ferie.dk Energiee

    Is it possible to optimize your local search results in some way? at the moment my company is placed on page 2 in local search but i want to get on the first page again. How can i do that and which factors plays a role to get in the top? Please help me :o)

  • http://www.visionefx.net Rick Vidallon

    Don’t forget about Google Dash Board! – Google has made an important update to your Google Local Business Center. ( If you have one…)

    Google is now offering a reporting dashboard for your local business listings. It is an intuitive application and can help local business owners jump on great opportunities.


  • http://www.semrun.com shivam

    Hey Sujan,

    Its really nice information.