As the economy opens the door of opportunity for many people who have lost their jobs, more small businesses are on the rise -- and so is the demand for local search. Are you looking to venture beyond the printed yellow pages? You should be.
According to a SBI+M article, 54 percent of Americans have substituted the Internet and local search for phone books. Ninety percent of online commercial searches result in a local offline purchase and 61 percent of all local searches results in a transaction. Do I have your attention?
On-Page Factors: Make Sure Your Location is Visible
Your contact information should be on every page of your Web site. It can be frustrating for users visiting a site when they come to the point where they're ready to buy, but they have to search around for a phone number or a local address.
Also, make sure the location of your store or office is on each page. Have multiple locations? List those as well. Place this information at the bottom of your pages or get creative and maybe develop a tagline that includes each location.
Optimizing each page for SEO is next. Make sure the various HTML tags on your page include your location info where appropriate. For more info see "Site Structure 101" or Search Engine Watch's Search Engine Optimization section.
Solicit Local Links
Submit to directories and get your company listed. Look at directories that cater to your local market. Reach out to your local chamber of commerce and other Web directories local to your area, and ask them to link to your Web site.
Submit to Directories -- It's Free
Get listed with some specific sites that are designed just for local listings. For each business listing, make sure that your information is complete and correct and that it uses the same keywords you use on your Web site.
Here are the most notable ones:
Instead of taking you to the home page, I found links that will take you directly to the free submission. Most of these services allow you to upgrade to better features for a fee -- in fact, they're rather proactive at helping you upgrade, so beware.
Update or Add your Site on Local Search Engines
Just in case you'd like to do these one at a time, here are the links to the search engines where you can place your local listings:
- Google's Local Business Center. You'll need to set up a Gmail account prior to filling out the form.
- Yahoo's Local Search. You'll need to set up an account before you proceed with the listing.
- Live Search Local Listing Center. Yes, you guessed it. You'll need to set up a Microsoft Live account.
You can also take advantage of a cool new tool, GetListed.org. That's a one-stop shop for generating multiple listings. What a great idea!
Now that you've taken the time to set up your business listings, you're on your way, but there's still work to do. Reach out to your satisfied customers and ask them to come and rate your business and/or write a review. When people find you, they'll likely find your competitors as well. Positive reviews will add more credibility and help you stand out in the crowd.
In Part 2: more tips on local search tactics, and the impact of mobile search and what you need to know about this growing market.
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