The Internet has certainly leveled the playing field for businesses of all types and sizes. You can now reach potential customers virtually anywhere around the world.
But what if your client is a local business without global aspirations? Thanks to strategically refined targeting and smart optimization, they can just as easily reach their online audience – the ones who are doing a local search.
Forget the “big boys.” Getfoundlocal.com says 20% of all computer searches are for local terms. And nearly 80% of those folks take the next step, visiting the business or calling. Your clients have to be there for them. So, how can their content drive more effective local search results? Try these seven ideas.
1. Use local search keywords.
Website analytics will show what words people are using to find your clients. Typically local search includes a term associated with products or services followed by your client's town name. Local search keywords can help you get found, whether you’re in a big city or a tiny hamlet. But if you’re in a larger metropolitan area, does your business district or neighborhood have a formal or informal name? How is your client's city’s name abbreviated? Use those terms, too.
2. Localize your blog content.
Since this is one of the most power-packed tools to boost SEO and drive website traffic, you want to “think local” here in terms of content topics and text. Include stories or references about the community as well your business. Mention your client's town by name in headlines and sub-heads, too, where that makes sense. You’ll expose their business to new prospects and strengthen their relationship with local friends and fans.
3. Localize the rest of your content.
Use those local search terms you’ve identified as you write headlines and copy for your website’s internal pages about products and services, special landing pages, etc. And incorporate them in titles for your other content – videos posted to YouTube, photos pinned on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter messages.
And speaking of social media, post links to local happenings that are super-timely, super-hot or particularly relevant for your client's business. That’ll support local search results and reinforce their reputation as a valuable business within the community.
4. Revel in your reviews.
Third-party testimonials are golden to build credibility and local search results. So ask customers to write reviews, and capture positive comments from social media and other sources to post on your client's website. If you need inspiration or you’re hesitant to request reviews and recommendations, Brent Carnduff and Adam Kreitman have some great tips on how to do this.
5. Get listed.
Google+ Local is a must-have these days. And since it’s Google, it’s an extra-strength SEO-builder. List your client's business on Yelp, Yahoo directory, CitySearch and online directories hosted by your local chamber of commerce, trade or professional associations you belong to and the Better Business Bureau. People use these to find quality businesses.
Add photos or tags where you can, and make your listings as similar as possible, to support branding consistency.
According to getfoundlocal.com, 95% of mobile searches are local, but 79% of local businesses don’t have a website that’s optimized for mobile users. Ouch. Unless your clients are in that savvy 11%, take immediate steps to make their website mobile-friendly, and stop losing local search business.
7. Optimize behind the scenes.
Include the city name in SEO-important places such as page titles, H1 tags and descriptions. Make sure contact information – address and phone number – are on the home page, not just buried under “contact us.” Use standard phone number formatting (xxx-xxx-xxxx) and spell out your client's city name in HTML text, so search engines won’t miss them.
Adding a map and written directions will also help search engines index information. And including short testimonials on the homepage will strengthen SEO as well as your authority with new site visitors. Trustmarks (icons for BBB, Verisign, etc.) are also important content that does double-duty to improve search results and build brand reputation.
Your clients are part of the home team – a neighbor as well as a business neighbor – and people are conducting a local search because they want to buy from them. Optimizing content with that in mind will ensure those nearby find your clients first and foremost, whether they’re looking for early-stage information about products or services or directions to visit the location.
Optimizing for local search isn’t really any different than more generalized efforts to boost SEO. You just have to think local.