The Local Search Engine Optimization Cheat List

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Like James Morris once said, “There is no secret sauce in SEO“. Really, if you can allow the time for some studying, you are most likely to be able to do it yourself.

What you really need is (1) to understand the good old KISS principle (just keep it as simple as possible), (2) take any rumors and myths (even if they come from trustful sources) with a grain of salt and (3) bookmark some easy-to-implement, step-by-step tutorials.

This post is an effort to give you a clearly defined and easy to comprehend guide on the steps to optimize your business for local search: enjoy!

I have taken the following steps to promote my business in local search:

CheckI have displayed my full business contact information clearly on my site. I am taking advantage of these placements to make my contact information stand out and easy to find:

  • Title of the page (especially for the contact page);
  • Meta description of the contact page and “About us” page (to be displayed in SERPs)
  • Bottom of each page throughout the site (bottom of the page is the traditional placement for contact information, so most visitors will first look for it there – I don’t make my visitors search for my contact info; it is right there where they are used to seeing it).

CheckMy site Contact and About-us pages contain sufficient information on where my business is located as well as phone numbers including local area (search engines are often believed to associate local area code as the local search rankings factor); thus, I don’t need to add “nofollow” attribute to those pages;

CheckI have made sure my business domain WHOIS information lists my business mail address and contact phone number;

CheckI have the list of my local competitors and have researched their local promotion tactics (I know where their local backlinks come from).

CheckMy business is listed in the regional sections of popular directories like BOTW and

CheckI claimed my business and edited my listing in local search engines like Yahoo! Local, YellowPages and CitySearch. For international businesses: I have compiled the list of most powerful local search engines and claimed my business listings there. Examples of these include:

CheckI have created my business profiles at major business social networks and included its address there (examples: CrunchBase for technology companies; Facebook pages, etc)

CheckI have found and built relations with powerful local bloggers and journalists and get featured by them;

CheckI have made my site more accessible for mobile phones. I understand how important it is to optimize my site for mobile searches.

CheckI have read and thought over these awesome guides on local search optimization:

  1. Local Search Ranking Factors (2009 edition!)
  2. Local search guide;
  3. The Guide to International Citations for Local Search;
  4. Facebook Pages & Local Search Engine Optimization;
  5. Local Search : User Recommendations Make Your Business Money
  6. Enhance Your Google Local Listings
  7. 3 Keys To Success For Local Search SEO

Did I miss anything? Please add in the comments!

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty

Brand amd Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing,... Read Full Bio
Ann Smarty
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  • Nice write-up, Ann. Just wanted to add this post I did in the Spring about international citation sources to flesh out the three that you had listed:

    Thx for the shout-outs to the LSRF!!

    • Hey David, thanks for stopping by!

      Included it to the list – thanks!

  • Great cheat sheet. This should help a lot of small businesses wade through something most considering confusing.

  • Ann, Great cheat sheet to help businesses. We also would like to be included as the place where you can do your submission, corrections, and enhancement with our “one time listing” that covers, compliments, and enhances their business local listing. This can be a great time saver along with the fact that the more places, Google and others find you listing, the more value it places on that listing ( per our mutual friend David Mihm). Cover all major Search portals, IYPs, GPS and navigation devices, and directory 411. We also submit to the data agregators.

  • Thanks for this great list Ann! I’d also just remind small businesses to make sure that the business names and addresses they use are consistent across all directories and their website. I have clients using P.O. Boxes in some directories and street addresses in others.

    Thanks again — this post is one I’ll bookmark!

  • Great list Ann!

    The above are total jewels. I also find a ton of good nuggets at Mike Blumenthal’s Local search blog that would fit nicely into this list.

    There are definitely starting to be some solid resources for us local’s to draw from.

  • Nice Tips Ann. Will try to get through them for my company as well.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Pegacorn

    Nice rundown – I’d add hcard microformats and inclusion into top SEO IYPs like and top review sites like

    • wiwi

      Where do you add the hcard? at the contact info page?

  • Hi Ann…great posting! And I’d only add that should the person doing same for their site be a canuck, then I also added some new citations to David’s lists specifically to add some “bang for the buck” — go here to find same —



  • Very easy to follow straightforward checklist. You hinted toward claiming your listing on most of the major sites, except Google Maps, which shouldn’t be left out due to their dominance. I’d also add that businesses should get listed on their local chamber of commerce sites. When Google picks up this reference, it’s treated as an important citation that can really increase their rankings. Also, if you hadn’t heard, Citysearch is letting you add listings again, so that’s a great place to add a listing if not already there.

  • We are a “local” business in Wheeling, IL —- which is a suburb of Chicago. I serve the entire Chicagoland area – which is comprised of about 100 towns and villages. I want to “win” in Naperville, in Barrington, in Chicago, in Wheeling — anywhere our company goes to do home modifications for people with disabilities. SO — I don’t want to emphasize Wheeling too much because it might limit our results. How do we incorporate all of these 100 different town/village names across out 150+ website?

  • There are some other more complicated tasks that the very best SEO experts do such as moving as much code off page as possible. For many businesses it simply makes more sense to focus on what they do and hire specialists to manage certain tasks such as SEO.

    While many CAN learn to do this themselves each person should ask themselves whether that is the best use of their time, how much they are willing to invest in learning and research, and especially are they going to actually get it done?

    As with most other tasks, there is a huge difference between mediocre SEO (think blog comment spam and poorly written articles) and hiring the very best who have years of experience and already know what the most effective methods are so they can focus on priorities.

    For the record I am not an SEO and only rarely assist businesses with that type of work (although I sometimes do). I am simply pointing out that not all SEOs are equally effective and many businesses would be far better off seeking out and hiring the very best – especially if they are in a very competitive field like mortgages or insurance.

    The way to find out who really is good at it is to get recommendations from others who have been in a position to evaluate their work and know kind of results they have obtained. @MikeTek of UnstuckDigital recently wrote a post called Wanna Buy a Lemon that speaks to this subject quite well.

    I regularly teach bloggers and business owners about anchor text and keyword research and most find deciding which keyword phrases to target challenging. They either select phrases that are far too general and too competitive or far too specific.

    Ranking for phrases no one ever searches on is useless and getting someone ranked for that type of phrase is a common ploy of bad SEO companies and con artists. If you don’t target the best keyword phrases your SEO efforts will be weak at best.

  • Great SEO Cheat List! Those are def some of the top tips one needs to market their business, particularly a local business. If one is using social sites, which a lot of businesses should also use, they can list their business in local listings that some social sites provide. A good local search marketing blog is at, there are a lot of good tips there too.

    Thanks for sharing these, I really like the one about having a list of your local competitors.

  • Ann
    GREAT checklist! This should keep most local business owners busy until March ( or later) the only thing I would add is to do keyword research FIRST, and to include optimized videos. We get lots and lots of front page spots with local keyword targeted videos combined with social media. When done on a regular basis it provides not only traffic and linking, but a more personal way to interact with local customers. Local businesses have ONE HUGE strategic advantage – the ability to communicate more personally. Video can help them leverage this natural asset. Here is an article "4 Ways to Use VIDEO to Engage Visitors and Increase Sales" that shows some simple and effective ways to utilise video.

  • I have read many articles on Local Search ranking factors and this is by far the most informative and to the point. Thank you!

  • Good checklist to check, especially for starting SEOs. But can be of big help even for those who have been doing campaigns for some time. I myself will try some of the points presented in this article. Thanks to the author for the share.

  • This is the perfect how-to list for anyone local trying to get their business found in Google Local Search! Thanks very much for it, this is a guide I've been looking for.

  • This is the perfect how-to list for anyone local trying to get their business found in Google Local Search! Thanks very much for it, this is a guide I've been looking for.