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12 Tips to Gain More Local Presence through Local SEO Practices

Local Search Engine OptimizationIf you are a service-based local business, you have a great opportunity to build your local web presence by optimizing your site for local search results. There are a number of ways to use small business SEO strategies to help you optimize your site for local search. These tactics can significantly increase your local visibility and get your business listed very quickly at the top of the search engines, if you apply some local SEO best-practices.

A recent survey conducted by WebVisible and Nielsen/Net Ratings found that over 80% of survey respondents use the Internet to search for local businesses– even those that are only within a 20-mile radius. As a result, local businesses can now build their reputation locally in a way that was not possible before. They can use the Internet to create local presence and compete with companies that are far larger by becoming more visible, personable, and strategic on the web.

With the growing use of the Internet and changing habits of buyers, a local business can leverage the Internet not only to create a website but to use their website as a sales and marketing tool to reach their market, find new leads, nurture them, and lead them to take action. But to generate business results, the site has to be found first. And being found locally requires knowledge in local search engine optimization.

There are many little things you can do to improve your local search engine optimization. One of the ways to optimize results for local searches is to start by getting listed in key local directories.

Below are some guidelines to get you started with this first step:

  1. Create a profile on the major local search engines, namely Google, Bing and Yahoo, and ensure you use the right catgories, provide sufficient information and content on each of their platforms  include a description of your business using your selected keywords, links to your site, photos, content, and video.
  2. Get your site verified with the search engines. 
  3. Find and create a list of the popular local directories as the next step to list your business.  One way to find these sites is to search for “business directories” followed by your city or state.  Most of the local directories are free, but some offer premium services for a one-time fee or a fee/month that will place you as a featured site.
  4. Create your profile in each of these directories and be sure to include in the description your keywords and the local markets you serve. In other words if you are located in Princeton NJ, then you want to include something like this in your description: "Web Marketing firm in Princeton, New Jersey serving Somerset county, Mercer county and Huntington county."  Create a featured messages, include a special, or a promotion. and select what category your business belongs to. Typically you are allowed up to 5-10 categories to use, use all of them. This gives you more chances to get found.  Many directories now also provide you with the opportunity to include images and video. Take the opportunity to include those. They enhance your rankings.
  5. Do not submit to a large number of directories at once. The search engines could consider it spamming. Do it slowly and consistently over time. But definitely do it!
  6. Getting a review entered on your business is also a feature that directories are allowing now and makes a huge impact on your visibility and credibilty. The search engines like reviews and use them as an additional weight factor in ranking your site. If you are a small service company, ask customers who have used your service to submit a review of your business. This is a great sales tool when your customer testimonials show up in search results. People take these reviews into account when deciding on which link to click. You can also subscribe to the site to monitor any reviews done of you – including any negative reviews that may have been made about your business.  For some tips on how to encourage your customers to enter reviews online, read this article.
  7. Include local keywords in the content and meta tags on your website. You can put your address in the footer, or mention your location in the text of the page. You can embed what is referred to as an hcard in your site. The hcard is basically your contact details in html. Some website publishing software systems already have that functionality built in.
  8. Look for advertising opportunities with the local directories. They are typically not expensive and can increase your visibility and bring you additional leads.
  9. Check your ranking periodically. You can check how you are doing with the search engines by typing the keywords you are competing on. Remember, everything on the Internet is driven by keywords. So be sure you have done due diligence in researching your keywords so the search engines bring you the right traffic. Also type the name of your business for people who know your business name and are typing it directly in the search bar. See where you rank.
  10. Use Google analytics to find out how many visitors are coming to your site. There is not much value in ranking to the top when no one is clicking to your site. Learn to analyze your traffic so you know what you need to do to continue to improve.
  11. Check the other players that are competing on the same keywords. Learn who your competition is and who the market players are, what they are doing, how they are marketing themselves. Today, you have some very valuable information you can research through the web. Use it. Find other market players and see if there is an opportunity to collaborate with them. The internet provides you with a great opportunity not only to compete, but also to collaborate.
  12. Finally, make sure your site is equipped to sell once you get visitors to your site. Your site needs to provide your potential buyers with the information they seek and with compelling content that will lead them to act, so you can generate leads and increase sales. Remember, your ultimate goal is to build relationships that will help you increase sales and develop your business. All the search engines can do is help people find you. Your site has to do the rest.



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