Getting to Know Local SEO

Local SEO is a vital marketing strategy for any business trying to reach their consumer base. Local SEO is a must for businesses that sell products locally to a specified geographical area.

With more consumers going online, the time has never been better to integrate local SEO. This wave of consumers searching locally will continue growing. Fully supported HTML Web browsers have opened up the mobile market for consumers to search for products on the go.

The channels consumers are using to search are changing. Is your marketing strategy adapting?

What's In It for You? The Benefits!

Consumers are further along in the buying cycle when they search locally. This locally focused traffic is generally more qualified, and results in higher conversions and purchases. You also enhance the user's experience by bringing your customers or prospective customers to highly relevant local content on your site.

For example, someone in Fort Lauderdale, Florida is looking for plumbers. Instead of directing them to the main page of your Web site, they're provided with the page containing your business address, phone number, and other information specific to that location. Land a consumer on relevant local information and your conversion to sale increases while page bounce rate and site abandonment decreases.

Tactically Speaking

Keyword research for local SEO is slightly different than for local SEM. To get the most benefit out of the keyword research, each location should be analyzed individually. While this can be tedious, you'll usually find that there are noticeable differences between how people from different regions search for products or services in their area.

For instance, you may find that in Dallas the most popular query is "plumbers in Dallas," while in Seattle the most common search phrase is "Seattle plumbing." This is especially true if you're optimizing for a specific area or district within a city.

Through keyword research you may find that instead of searching for the city name, the locals search by neighborhood. The variance between the most popular search phrases might be small, but that slight difference in keyword targeting could open the doors for significantly more traffic.

Local business listings have made their way to the top of the first page in SERPs due to the pervasiveness of universal search. As such, local business listings have become an extremely important aspect of local SEO.

To create a strategic presence within these listings, each location should feature a title and description that is reflective of the localized keyword targets. Listings should also contain a link to the corresponding location page on your Web site. Don't forget to include videos and images relevant to each location. These draw attention and help drive traffic.

How you go about creating and maintaining visibility within search engine results for localized search terms will vary based on the strategy selected. Whether you go with a test program or full implementation, you'll need to focus your tactics around on-page elements, off-page elements, and local business listings.

On-page tactics for local SEO are generally the same as traditional SEO, but with a focus on the location being targeted. This means traditional SEO elements (e.g., page titles, page names, meta tags, keyword density) still factor in getting a page to rank. The difference here is the local focus of the keyword targets.

For example, with local SEO you'll tend to focus the previously mentioned elements on a keyword target made up of the location and keyword. This would be something like "Dallas plumbing."

There are other local tactics that should be employed to round out your content. These include a geo meta tag, local address, phone, ZIP, and map within each page's content. If you have several location pages, it's important the copy is unique on each page to reduce any potential duplicate content penalties.

Finally, there should be a link to each location page in the sitemap. Careful though, Google suggests less than 100 links per sitemap. If you have a large number of location pages, consider creating a flat HTML directory of locations by hierarchy. In this scenario, start by linking the sitemap page to region pages (e.g., Northeast) continued with a listing of state pages that link to a complete listing of individual location pages.

As with traditional SEO, off-page tactics are important for local SEO as well. Inbound links should be created between your site and several relevant local sites. The link anchor text on these sites should be reflective of your localized keyword theme and the links should point to individual location pages and not simply to your home page.

Don't forget to leverage social media. There are several local opportunities in the social space that should be considered. Take a look at items like blogs, images, videos, Wikis, and local groups. These areas provide an opportunity for increasing awareness of your local presence and they can provide another outlet for driving traffic.

Local SEO is an often overlooked aspect of Internet marketing that contains an increasing amount of opportunity for most companies. With a little research a strategy can be developed, tactics can be defined, and implementation can begin on what will likely turn out to be a highly beneficial endeavor.