Local search queries—
those including a specific
geographic location —
in website marketing.
Not only are local listings gaining
valuable real estate on the
search results pages, locally focused
websites are appearing
with more frequency for nonspecific
search phrases as well,
thanks in part to Google Instant
and the real-time nature
of today’s Web. So what can
you do to leverage this growth?
Hopefully you have already 1) claimed your business listing
and/or submitted your website to online services like
Google Places and Yelp.com, among the many others (listed
here — http://wsm.co/9EgJ6p), 2) promoted your website and
brand on social destinations like Facebook and Twitter, and 3)
become involved with location-aware applications like
Foursquare and Gowalla.
All of these channels present excellent ways of getting
local search traffic to your website. But often overlooked
are the factors that influence how profile pages from these
Web services are returned to users. Actively optimizing
local search profiles improves search engine rankings and
the chances that your website will appear in the first few
positions on local query results.
About Profile Optimization
While not technically a page on your website, claiming and
validating local listings on Google, Bing and Yahoo! can drive
high-quality, targeted traffic and help your site rank higher
within local search results. While
unclaimed local listings can
sometimes outrank claimed local
listings, it is still vital to claim
your profiles as it gives you complete
control of what is displayed
to users and prevents someone
else from claiming your listings
Here are the major ranking factors to consider when building
your local search engine pages:
Location (Address): Does your business address need to be in
the actual city of the search query to rank? For the most part,
yes, particularly if you are located in a large city. There are
some exceptions for smaller towns — if there are not enough
matches then the search engine may take results from neighboring
towns. But your business’ physical location is a major ranking factor when it comes to local search. Make sure to
include as much information as possible, including longitudinal
and latitudinal data.
Business Category: Make sure your business is categorized
correctly — if secondary category choices are available, select
a few over time to see which ones positively influence your
position and traffic.
Business Name: Consider your business name the
Citations: Citations are when your business is mentioned
(but not necessarily linked to) elsewhere on the Web. Citations
are like links, in that the more you have the better. Citations
build trust with the search engines and give you a
boost when it comes to ranking, especially with Google Maps.
You can see your citations on your Google Places page under
“What people are saying about”. Check out the competition
and make sure you make an attempt to get citations from the
same or related sources.
Reviews and Ratings: Not only will good reviews and ratings
have a positive effect on your local listing ranking, it will also
help the click-through rate of your listing. Encourage existing
clientele to submit reviews and ratings and reward them when
Complete Profiles: Take time to fill out your local business
profile pages completely. Add business hours, payment options
and craft a well-written description of your business.
Even add pictures and videos if you have them. Also, be sure
that the information on your local listing pages is consistent
across all directories.
Remember to claim and submit your website to the primary
local providers (http://wsm.co/9EgJ6p) and test different
profile information combinations to see what influences
return list position and website traffic. While often tedious to
complete and validate (and for some, to create unique landing
pages for each business location), these efforts will more
than pay for themselves in the form of quality local traffic.
About the Author:
Dante A. Monteverde is a Search
Strategist specializing in Search Engine
Spider Bait SEO in 1996 and has over 10 years of SEO experience.