<< by on January 10th, 2011
One in a series of posts in which I am sharing my New Year’s resolutions in five different areas of SEO, this post focuses on small businesses or companies with a localized market. Local Search has become a big focus for SEO in 2010, and it will only become more important in the coming year. Here’s how I recommend creating a Local Search strategy.
Why is Local Search important for SEO?
For many companies- especially small businesses- the market is local. And search engines have been refining the way they treat search queries for local information. If you search for “sushi restaurant in DC,” you’ll see some local listings. Or if you simply search for “sushi restaurant,” Google may use your geographic location to target your search results.
Either way- if you have a target market in a particular locality, your company should have a Google Places page. A Google Places page allows you to specify all sorts of information about your business- the address, hours of operation, services offered, reviews, awards, etc. And this Places page can show up in search results, alongside a map showing your location. It can be a great way to reach a local audience.
What to Consider?
1. Define Your Local Market(s)- Do you have multiple locations or serve two different markets? You can specify multiple locations on your Google Places page. Or you can create two separate Places pages if each location offers a slightly different set of services. Also be sure to determine which keywords apply to each location.
2. Know Where You Rank Now- You’ll want to have some idea where your Places page ranks now so that you know where to focus your optimization efforts. Do a few searches for your keywords of focus- and be sure to either include a geographic qualifier in your search (like “in charlottesville, va”) or actually be located in the area of interest. Note whether you appear in the Local Listings. To be sure you’re looking at the right results, click “Places” on the left-hand side of the results page.
3. Optimize Your Google Places Page(s)- If you’re not ranking well for a local search on one of your keywords of focus, then work that keyword into the content of your Google Places page. Be sure you list your business under the best “category” available. Encourage your loyal customers to review your business with a star rating.