Optimizing Your Business for Local Internet Search

 If you own a local enterprise, you really need to focus on the specific area where you do businesses.  While showing up in Google is good, showing up in Google when people nearby search for your business is even better. 

Local search and social marketing are two of the more recent trends that have become very significant for local business owners.   Focusing on local searches means that business owners should go beyond what they have learned about optimizing their Web pages and for them to add focus on strategies that help with local search.

Of course, some of the steps involved in local search are essentially the same with those steps involved in general search engine optimization.  For example, keyword research would still be very important, but the focus shifts from industry-specific and business-related keywords to geo-specific keywords.    So, for instance, instead of “blue widgets,” you are now going for “blue widgets in Denver.”

When it comes to onsite optimization, however, you would need to change things a little.

Title and Meta Descriptions

The title and meta description are very important because the things you put here are going to show up in search results.

title-meta

As such, you need to make sure that you optimize both the title and meta description to include your location.

location-meta

Your title tag should include your keywords, your location and should be under 70 characters.  Meanwhile, your meta description should be 165 characters or less, so be creative in how you write it to include your main keywords, your service locations, and if you still have space, your telephone number.

Local Addresses & Phone Numbers

When targeting local searchers, it makes good sense to put your business address and phone number on every page of your Web site.  This is very easy to do.   If you have a WordPress site, all you need to do is put up a footer with these information.  Do not use an image for this, as search engines often cannot read images.  Plus, if people are searching for your business and they go to your site, they will be able to click on your phone number and call you right away.

Location-Specific Pages

So far, so good.  The foregoing techniques are quite easy to implement if you have one location and your Web site is for that location alone.  But what if you have five locations all over the city or locations spread across the state?  The trick is to have a page for each of the five locations you have.  This way, you would be able to optimize that page for its location, and people who search for your business will be taken to the page that is closest to them.

Embedding Google Maps

Another trick to optimize your Web pages for local searches is to put a Google Map to your location on your site.  This is pretty simple to do.  Head on to Google Maps and then input your business address.  A map to your business address then appears.

To get the HTML code to embed that map, look for the link icon that looks like a chain next to the printer icon at the top left portion of the screen (please see screenshot below).  Clicking that icon, a small window would appear that allows you to copy the embed HTML that you could use for your site.

embed-map

You can even customize how the map would appear by clicking the Customize and preview embedded map link.

Not only will this help your customers find your business, but it is also a good signal to Google’s spiders as far as your location and address are concerned.

Create a Geo Sitemap

You know that a sitemap is very important in optimizing your pages for search, right?  Well, a geo sitemap works the same way as a sitemap, only that it has location information using geo-specific tags.  You create the geo sitemap and then submit it to Google like you would an ordinary sitemap.

The good news is that it is pretty easy to create a geo sitemap, thanks to online tools like the ones in GeoSitemapGenerator where you only have to fill out your company details, fill out some optional info and then download the files that you need to submit to search engine.

After your onsite optimization, you would need to start working on offsite optimization as well.  That means getting your site listed on local search directories, Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Yelp, Merchant Circle, Yellowpages, Superpages and other sites that are relevant to your business.

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