Are you and your internet business visible to users searching locally? That may not have meant a great deal until recently, when, with the fairly recent increase in GPS- and mapping-enabled smartphones and the changes in the way Googles search results are triggered, local searches started to become a vital marketing channel. If your business ignores local search, the answer to the question posed at the beginning of this piece may be No, which is not the answer you want to get.
Change Your Focus
Most companies are aware of the need to at least claim their listing in Google Places, but rarely go much further than that, concentrating their efforts mainly on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for general queries.
Claiming a listing in Google Places is a good first step in a location-specific search optimisation strategy, but most users searching locally arent actually using Google, instead preferring online yellow pages, city guides like Yelp and CitySearch, local directories or other search engines like Bing or Yahoo.
So, changing your focus from optimising your site for general search queries to local search queries is essential to avoid missing the boat altogether where local search is concerned. Here are 3 steps that can be taken to optimise your internet presence for local search queries.
1. Stake Multiple Claims
The first thing you should do is get your business listed locally on all three of the major search engines, Google, Yahoo! and Bing Maps. In addition, increasing the number of citations, or mentions, of your companys name along with the local address and phone number on third-party sites such as YellowPages.com, Yelp, Local.com and CitySearch is crucial to improving your sites ranking in map listings.
Third-party sites such as the ones mentioned above attract quite a bit of traffic in their own right with many users supplying reviews of local businesses. These reviews are often pulled by Google and a locations 10 pack ranking (the top 10 business listings shown on a map designated A to J) can be affected by the number of reviews it receives, while those rated highly by customers often see improved click-through rates.
2. Illustrate and Amplify
Since search engine rules and algorithms are changing constantly, staying on top of local Search Engine Optimisation will be an ongoing endeavour, much like general search query optimisation. In the case of Google Places, once your listings been claimed and location(s) verified, the next step is to enhance your businesss profile by building up your listing with as much information as possible, including videos and photos.
Adding coupons to your listings provides customers with incentives and also helps with tracking the results of your efforts. Choosing the correct category for your business is essential, as this ensures your site shows up for the search terms youve targeted. The more comprehensive your business profile, the more your listing will be trusted by both users and Google.
3. Take Chances
Look into options that may be a bit more edgy, like incentivising user actions through social media sites such as Twitter. In July, Twitter was supporting around 800 million searches per day, double that of Bing and Yahoo! combined, many of those searches being aimed locally, offering leverage for both direct response and branding. This makes Twitter search a viable and useful marketing vehicle, regardless of your ability to build a following.
Also, theres great potential in location-based mobile applications such as Foursquare and Double Dutch, which allow companies to make use of the geographic locations of their users, which can in turn be used to provide offers along with information about nearby points of interest and businesses.
As with standard search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies, constant care and attention to your local search marketing program will reap great rewards in terms of increasing not only online but also offline traffic and sales. If any of your location details change, updating your online profile and listings will maintain your credibility not only with the search engines but also your users and keep you on the radar of local searches.
To make sure your internet business isnt invisible when users search locally, consult a UK internet business coach wholl get your business on the map locally and help you keep it there.