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Targeting Local Customers? Get Your Local Search Optimisation Strategy In Place

Web Bureau

24 August 2012 by Web Bureau

Our recent article, 2012: The Year Google Became Local, announced the introduction of Google- Local, and the Google Venice algorithm update, elements of Google's strategy to return the most relevant search results for users.

If your business targets customers in your region for new and repeat business, there are many advantages of investing in local search engine optimisation. Those who rank well locally can attract regular visitor traffic and new customers to their site. With mobile searching on the increase, ranking well for local keywords is increasingly important.

Local businesses gain trust more easily due to the map, address verification, customer reviews, and content that local business pages typically contain. Conversion rates tend to be higher for local search terms, than national terms as geographic proximity results in increased click-through rates and repeat visits. Securing reviews from these local customers who purchase often, also enables local businesses to establish credibility quickly. 

So How Can a Local Business or Organisation Rank Well for Local Search Terms?

Stage 1: Keyword Research 

Identify suitable keywords to use to optimise your website, social media profiles and anchor text for link building. Local search marketing is challenging as you are targeting both industry-specific and geo-specific terms.

Stage 2: On-Site Optimisation for Local Search

Tell the search engines the locations you are targeting by including geo-specific information, keywords and phrases on your website:

Meta Data
Include your local keywords within title tags, meta descriptions, image alt tags, H tags and so on.

Local Address & Phone Number on All Pages
Include these details on all pages within the text, not in an image. Most businesses place this information in their website’s footer. This is good for search engine bots and for people on mobile phones as your phone number may be clickable.

Location-Specific Pages
If you have more than one location but only one website, create a page on your website specific for each physical location. This way, anyone searching for your business in a particular region, city, state, or country should be directed to the appropriate page.

Embed a Map
The best place to start is to get listed on local search directories. Some good examples include Google- Local4NIYelpYell,Cylex and Free Index.  Include as much content as the directory allows to best optimise your listing. Some local search directories are free, others incur a cost. 

Enter the address on Google Maps, get the HTML embed code and add the map to your website. To be extra sure Google and other search engines pick up on this, get your web developer to create and upload a KML file to your website.  KML is a file format used to display geographic data in an Earth browser such as Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google Maps for mobile. Instead of waiting for Google to find out where you are, this will tell them where you are!

Stage 3: Off Page Optimisation / Link Building for Local Keywords

There are a number of strategies that businesses can employ to secure local links to their website:

Local Search Directories & Reviews
Boost your visibility by monitoring your business listings. Encourage your customers to provide a review and respond to both good and bad reviews as the listing owner. Positive ratings can elevate your business in search results, especially on sites that allow visitors to sort businesses by the number of positive ratings. Here are some tips for getting great social local search reviews:

  • Add Icons to Your Website - Let your website visitors know they can rate your business on directories by adding links to your business listings on your website.
  • Encourage Reviews in Your Store - If you have a store or restaurant, encourage local reviews by simply putting a mention or link to your business listings on receipts.
  • Encourage Reviews via Emails - Email people after they purchase from your website or sign up to your mailing list and ask them to rate their experience on their choice of business listing.
  • Ask! - If you interact with customers daily, simply ask them to add a review on your business listing.

Related Local Businesses
Identify local businesses from the same industry, which are not competitors. If their websites have resource pages that link out to other businesses similar to yours, try to get your link listed as a valuable resource their visitors.

Local Bloggers
Find bloggers in your region whose audience might be interested in your business. Offer to do a guest post for them, or give them the opportunity to sample your products or services in exchange for a review on their blog.

General Local Resource Pages 
Search for other local business resources where you may be able to get your site listed e.g. your local Council’s website.

Competitor Backlinks
Use tools like Open Site Explorer to find out what backlinks your local competitors’ websites have to see if you can get yourself listed on them as well.

Local Events
If you sponsor or exhibit at local industry conferences, expos and shows, check if they link to their exhibitors and sponsors on their website. 

Local Charities
Sponsor and donate to local charities. Many will have websites that thank their local sponsors and donors, linking back to the sponsor’s and donor’s websites.

Actively delivering all of the above will have you well on your way to achieving a strong position in local search results, but the challenge does not end here. 

Our previous article, ‘Be a Social Animal for Search Engine Optimisation’ illustrated that SEO in not complete without the support of Social Media Marketing. Our next article will identify social media marketing strategies that will strengthen your Local Search Optimisation strategy.

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