Image representing Yelp as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

If you own a local business, are you found when your potential customers search for you?

In fact, with billions of local search queries served monthly on Google alone (and growing) – opportunities for driving business your way is serious business – don’t be left out.

Have you seen Google Maps, Bing, Twitter, Facebook (Places), Gowalla, Foursquare, Yelp lately? Accessed via the web or your smartphone? Those websites are central to local search, and are the sites your customers are using.

Signing up for a Google Places (Google Local Business Center) account to begin will be a smart move for you. Do the same for Bing, Facebook and Yahoo while you are at it.

What are good tips to get a local website to rank in the search engines?

There are numerous ways to get a website (page, actually) listed in the local results for search.

  • Make sure you have keywords that describe you (services, products) and with a local modifier.  If you are an attorney, make sure you use that keyword and variations of it. However, it’s highly competitive by itself, so you need to add more detail + locale. Using the example of an attorney site – it may have keywords such as “bankruptcy attorney” or “divorce attorney.” (two different sites)
  • Rather than using keywords such as “bankruptcy attorney,” you might use keywords such as “Cleveland, Ohio bankruptcy attorney” (or the other way around). You may want to focus on “Little Rock divorce attorneys”, for example. These offer a local focus and strategic positioning for your business.
  • The key to remember is that you need to use the city’s name, the state’s name and to include keywords for the larger cities in the area, too.

Important factors that can help a website to rank well are keywords in your content with local descriptors. Others local ranking factors:

  • Include links that are pointing into the website from quality sites outside the website. Make sure you get local links, and include directories in your area.
  • Add a blog or other method for adding fresh content to the website on a regular basis.
  • Social media and other tools that increase the traffic to the website which in turn increases the overall importance of the website.
  • Get local reviews, encourage your business visitors to leave you reviews on various sites mentioned at the beginning of this post.

Test your overall search activity and user engagement on your local pages by running local Google Adwords ads. Do this before diving too deep into local SEO. Here is a great local keyword and locale generator you can use to generate lots of city and zip code locations. Run exact matches on the local keywords to start, and test it for a week. Make sure to have “local” focus!

What have been your success in local search so far? What are your current struggles?


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Entrepreneur Magazine says Jon Rognerud is one of the most sought-after Digital Marketing Experts. His clients extend from high-end brands and middle-tier businesses in both B2B and B2C. His SEO website optimization book, "The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Website" from Entrepreneur Press is in bookstores now.