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10 Essential Ways to Optimize for Local Search

Search engines crawl billions of webpages to deliver what users want – and increasingly, that consists of  local results.

A 2012 study by YP and Streetfight shows that 40 percent of people now use local search daily, with 67 percent using it three to four times a week.

And just because your website is optimized for “regular SEO” doesn’t mean that it’s optimized for local search. They use very different ranking factors.

Here are 10 ‘musts to optimize for local search:

1. Research keywords

Understanding how people are searching is key. Use Google AdWords Keyword Tool to determine the number of local monthly searches specific terms receive. Seeing what people search will serve as a guide to developing the right keywords.

2. Have a local phone number

Often businesses use a toll-free number as a courtesy to customers. When it comes to local search, though, it may not help your business. Include a phone number that has an area code that matches your targeted area.

3. Make websites mobile friendly

Local Searches Per Device

Creating a mobile friendly version of a website is imperative because most local searches are made on a mobile device.

Mobile devices are partly responsible for the rise of local search. Desktop users average 5 local searches a week, about three to five times fewer than smartphone and tablet users, according to the YP study. Appeal to these searchers on the go by making the site mobile friendly.

4. Provide information that people want

Regardless of industry, local searchers primarily want three pieces of information: listings, NAP (name, address, phone number), and directions. Make sure to include that information. (Your address should go on every page.)

Don’t forget to provide hours of operation and pricing, two other essential pieces of information.

5. Multiple landing pages for multiple locations

Businesses with multiple locations should consider having separate landing pages for each.  Each page should include title tags with the business name, service, location, and keywords. With multiple pages and the pertinent information, a multi-site bakery in Minnesota, for example, is better optimized for “Minneapolis cakes” and “Duluth cakes”.

6. Use video hosting and social media sites

If your business has any videos, upload them to YouTube and Vimeo and optimize them with NAP citations back to your website.

Social media can also boost local search because of its relationship to search engines. In May, Bing added a column to its search results that shows Facebook friends who may help answer your search query. Google+ Local integrates Zagat’s scoring system and summaries of user reviews.

7. Register with authoritative sites

The Better Business Bureau, local chambers of commerce, and industry-related organizations often have high esteem among search engines. Register with them to get listed on their websites. (Warning: some charge a fee.) This earns you a valuable backlink and more local SEO.

8. Share local content

Keep up with news and provide local information your customers might be interested in. Even though the local stories might not get as many shares as the industry ideas you post, they have the potential to reach an audience that is at your doorstep and link your business to the area. Besides, sharing only content related to your business is not the best idea.

9. Keep customers happy!

Yelp Review - Local Search

Not only does good customer service create a loyal customer, it can attract new customers.

News spreads quickly on the Internet and customers have a number of tools to disseminate their feelings. Make online and offline customer service the best it can be. Local search takes information from a number of places, including online review sites.

10. Ask for reviews

Because search engines take into account online review sites like Yelp, make it a habit to ask customers for reviews to keep fresh news on those sites. Don’t fret over a couple of bad reviews. They’re bound to happen. In fact, Amazon encourages business to review their practices only when their negative feedback rate is greater than 5 percent.

Image: ZagatBuzz (Creative Commons)

About Brian Conlin

Brian Conlin is a content marketing manager for Cision. A former journalist, he enjoys researching and developing accessible content. When not writing, you will find him watching baseball and college basketball, sampling craft beer and enjoying Baltimore. Find him on Twitter @BrianConlin13.

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