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Why is local search engine optimization essential for your business?

Local-Google-SEO

We are all noticing more local search results “7-pack” posted at the top of any major search engine results page. Does this mean You can rank higher than your competitors by simply listing your business address, and phone number, on Google, Bing, Yahoo local center? YES, if you do it right! Don’t worry though; I’m listing best practices for local search engine optimization at the end of this post.

It’s not too late to consider changing your local advertising strategy. Just ask yourself these 2 questions: have Yellow Pages or the local newspapers been generating enough leads for my business lately? and how much is my cost per lead?

 

Why does Google want to know where am I right now?

By providing your location, Google can deliver more accurate and relevant local search results to you, when available.

How is that possible? Google uses information transmitted from nearby WiFi access points to determine your approximate location. Read more about Google toolbar master advanced features.

I believe this is the biggest revolution coming in the local search engine industry. Majority of international corporations will have to change their strategy quickly and local businesses will be the beneficiaries of this dramatic revolution.

Looking at the ‘big picture’, where are local search results coming from?

Primary data providers in local search » The Local Search Ecosystem

What are the most important factors for local search results (7-pack)?

  1. Verified local business listing
  2. Being listed in the right categories for your business
  3. Keyword usage in the business title
  4. Citations! If you haven’t heard this word before, it means mentions of your business name, address and phone number (NAP) on other websites. Citation criteria: authority, geographical relevancy, title tags of linking websites
  5. Traditional on-page criteria (title tags, domain URL keywords, “good content”, inbound links)
  6. Customer reviews including high ratings, vertical reviews (i.e. restaurant reviews on Yelp.com), sentiment analysis (these analysis comes from websites like urbanspoon.com, tripadvisor.com, n49.ca, ourfaves.com, frommers.com)

Google sentiment analysis

Best practices for local search engine optimization:

Off-page

  1. Submit or claim your listings on the local search engines, such as Google Places, Bing Local Listing Center, Yahoo Local Merchant, Yelp
  2. Make sure you choose the most relevant category for your business
  3. Use a keyword in your business title (no keyword stuffing, don’t violate Google guidelines)
  4. Use long tail keywords in your description; mention your products /services, brands you carry, locations you serve
  5. Citations; make sure all other websites linking to you have the proper address and the same phone number. (keep consistent with your phone number even if you have more than one phone number)
  6. Get listed on local directories
  7. Get reviews! Offer happy customers a coupon or discount if they post a review about your website
  8. Try to gain inbound links with your full business address, phone number, and your business name as anchor tex
  9. Assign geographic coordinates to your pictures on Panoramio and Flickr
  10. Assign geographic coordinates to your videos on YouTube

On-Page

  1. Create a contact / location page (separate pages for every store or office)
  2. Optimize your contact / location page HTML title tag to be: business name, city, province, phone #
  3. Include the full street address and phone number on every page of your website
  4. (Advanced) use Micro-formats such as “hCard” to include your business information on your website. See the hCard creator tool

Avoid

  1. Use of 800 numbers, or call tracking for your local business listing
  2. Exclusive use of (800) # on contact page
  3. Multiple addresses on contact page
  4. Multiple local business listing with the same phone number
  5. Multiple local business listing with the same address
  6. Negative customer ratings and reviews

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