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SEO for Local Businesses – Tips for Thriving Online

05/14/12 – 5:15 am | Posted By: Courtney Petty

If specific locations are important to your business than local SEO is for you. 63%of consumers and small business owners use the internet to find information about local companies and 82% use search engines. Think of all the opportunities for local optimization!

Local SEO for Businesses

What is Local SEO?

For a brick and mortar business, optimizing for local is an important marketing strategy to thrive online. For example, if you want your business to compete for “pizza in Minneapolis” or a similar structure of “[keyphrase] + location” – then you need to optimize for local search queries. Local SEO is becoming even more appropriate due to Google’s customized  Local SEO is a combination of both on page and off page SEO strategies.

Google says that they try to provide the most relevant results to your search, and location is one of the factors used to give the relevant results. While searching in Google, “location” is used to customize your results on the left side of the page. Location detection automatically sets a location for you but you can easily specify another location. IP address and/or the location feature in the Google Toolbar determines the location of your searches. You cannot turn off location customization, but you can set your location to a broader area (country vs. city, zip or address).

pizza minneapolis search

Since users are automatically set up to search local- optimizing for local is imperative for brick-and-mortar businesses.

Tips for Local SEO

1. Research. Use keyword research tools (like Google’s) to see what people are searching for. Think about key phrases your customers would be using…not industry jargon terms. Once you’ve done your keyword research, make sure to include those keywords throughout your website. If they are relevant, customer-terms, it shouldn’t be that hard to incorporate them. Aim to target 1-2 keywords per page. (Note: Keywords can still signal multiple key phrases.) Good tips on local keyword research in “One Dead Simple Tactic for Better Rankings in Google Local” by Rand.

2. Optimize all the on-page SEO elements. Each page on your website should have customized title tags, meta descriptions, H1 tags, image alt tags, etc. Optimization includes creating unique copy that includes a reasonable amount of key phrases. Make sure to include geographic cues in the content and tags. Check out this good list of local landing page best practices.

3. Add location to your title tags and meta descriptions. If you run a pizza joint in Minneapolis, your title tag might want to show something similar to: “Chicago-Style Pizza in Minneapolis | [Business Name]“. Your meta description should also fit in your key phrase for the specific page and location. I know we touched on this in #2, but it was worth repeating just for the title tags & meta descriptions.

4. Add your business address and telephone number (preferably not an 800 number) to every page of your website – like in the header or footer.

5. Have customized landing pages for each location. If you have locations in three different cities, have three pages each targeting one specific location. Include the address for specific location, telephone number, images, videos, hours of operation, etc.

6. Add Google Maps to your website. Take it even further and have the map of  your location on the specific landing page.

7. Upload rich media to your website/customized landing pages. YouTube videos targeting “Chicago-Style Pizza in Minneapolis” will likely rank high (if not first page) for the title. Add alt tags to  your images with key phrases (if appropriate) and location.

8. Utilize rich snippets for local search.

9. Claim your local listings. There are many free local business listings which translates to many free link and promotional opportunities. Use getlisted.org to see which listings your business has and which ones you still need to claim. Add your business listing to sites like Yahoo, Google, Bing (all local), Ask City, Yelp, Angie’s List, HotFrog, etc. The local search ecosystem is also helpful.

10. Ask your customers to leave reviews. Reviews are powerful! They are a form of social proof that consumers seek out. Both good and bad reviews (bad reviews in moderation) will help your business. Too many good reviews could come across as spammy or  unrealistic so that’s why it’s important to have a balance. A little do’s and don’ts I felt compelled to include:

11. Utilize social media. Audience big or small, it doesn’t matter as long as your fans are engaged. Social media helps establish trust and authority. It helps build relationships with your target market and can also be a great place to handle customer service (if a plan is in place). Use it (but use it wisely), it’s free!

12. Because Google no longer supports the geo tag, have your XML sitemap reference a locations.kml file you’ve created and uploaded to the root of your site. Resources & more information, here.

13. Utilize the locations data in Google Analytics (Audience > Demographics > Location > City (or other primary dimension)). You can then apply secondary dimensions and advanced filters to determine what keywords are coming from what city. Some people in Minneapolis may search for a different search term than the folks in St. Paul. Incorporate the data, if appropriate, to your on-page SEO elements.

Have any questions? Ask away!

About the Author: Courtney Petty

Courtney Petty
Courtney is the Web Marketing Specialist for DKS Systems. She specializes in all things related to online marketing such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), social media, paid advertising and more. Outside hobbies include cooking, crafts and shopping online.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted 08/28/12 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Nice post here! Manage a bunch of local clients and got some solid tips here – particularly like the XML sitemap pointer.

    Thanks!
    Dave

  2. Posted 09/07/12 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Great! Glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for stopping by, Dave. :)

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