By Dev Basu
In summer 2009, TMP Directional Marketing and comScore found that and 46% of local online searchers contacted a business by telephone after Web research, and 37% visited in person. This makes it imperative for a business to be ranked prominently within the local maps search listings on the 3 major search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing).
Local SEO consists of 8 major steps which are as follows:
What are your competitors ranking for?
It’s important to know how much competition you have in your market and knowing what keywords your competitors are optimizing for it will give you a good idea of what keywords to focus on for your own local search optimization efforts.
Keyword Focus and Use of Local Modifiers
Understand how people search for local products and services.
Using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool is a good start to understanding which keywords drive the highest traffic. Start by choosing your own Country and Language, and then type a few of the relevant keywords related to your business product or services followed by the city or cities you serve.
Optimizing Your Website for Local SEO
On Page SEO with a Focus on Local Modifiers
My guide to Local Business Landing Page Design will teach you how to optimize your website for Local SEO.
Key Actions Required:
Localize your website’s title tags, header tags, and meta descriptions to include your service areas. Keep in mind that different areas may spell products or services differently. You should also include local slang or colloquialisms. Use the hCard generator to code your address in the hCard microformat recognized by the search engines.
Creating or Claiming Existing Local Business Listings
How to get control of your local business listings on the major search engines.
I recommend: You can create your business listing using the following links at the Google Local Business Center, and also for Bing, and Yahoo. Ensure that you complete your profile as comprehensively as possible, by including the following:
• A keyword rich business description
• Extraneous business information such as Hours of operation, Payments accepted, Services offered, Certifications, Awards, Parking Availability
• The maximum number of business centric images and videos allowed.
Optimizing Local Business Profile Listings
What to pay attention to when populating and optimizing your listing information.
I recommend: Learn more about the Local Search Ranking Factors and use the Google maps category tool to choose the right categories for your business. You should also read the listing guidelines provided by the search engine to ensure you don’t over-optimize your listing.
Building Citations and Links to Enhance Listing Rankings
Create credible references with your business information from 3rd party data providers in order to get higher rankings.
I recommend: Visit my Canadian Guide to Local SEO Citations . For US based businesses, please submit to:
1. InfoUSA http://infousa.com/cgi-bin/abicgi/abicgi.pl?bas_session=S36596880122127&bas_vendor=190000&bas_type=LC&bas_page=350&bas_action=UpdateDB
6. Judy’s Book
7. Merchant Circle
8. City Search
Also refer to Powered by Search’s 20 Best Local SEO Citation Sources for a detailed list of other citation sources.
Encouraging Customer Testimonials and Reviews
Get reviews to increase rankings and the credibility of your business.
• Ask your customers to review your business after they’ve had the pleasure of using your services.
• Build a review page on your website with links to review portals for Google, Yahoo, and Bing, as well as social search engines and IYP sites such as Yelp, Insider Pages, and industry specific review sites.
• Monitor your reviews for positive and negative sentiment.
• Once you pass 5 stars in Google maps reviews, you will be awarded a boost in your rankings.
Staying Up to Date with Changes in Local SEO
How to learn more about Local SEO and keep up to date.
• Read Local SEO blogs
• Attend Local Search Conferences such as the Local Search Summit, and SMX Local
• Hire a Trusted Local SEO Provider as a consultant or campaign manager.