Search engines have become one of the primary ways that people find products and services right in their hometown. This growing reality significantly increases the need for small local business owners to master this thing called local search.
There are many ways to make your website pages much more localized. This is one of the underlying elements that tell the search engines that yours is indeed a local business.
There are a number of things that website owners can do offsite, such as social media participation, that help them come up when people look for local goods and services, but the first step is to make sure that the content on your own site is local focused.
Below are five ways to make your website more local friendly.
Simply adding geographic content to your web pages is one of the fist steps. This can include your physical address, directions with street and town names, maps, suburb names and names of communities or neighborhoods where you do work..
It’s also a great idea to do keyword research with local terms to find the best phrases to localized phrases to add to your pages. Google Keyword Tool or Wordtracker
Geo meta tags are also something worth investigating. Google continues to ignore them Bing has admitted they do use them to help determine business location. These tags go in the head section of a page and list the latitude and longitude of a business as well as city, state and country.
The tags for my business are:
meta name=”geo.region” content=”US-MO” /
meta name=”geo.placename” content=”Kansas City” /
meta name=”geo.position” content=”39.040409;-94.598657″ /
meta name=”ICBM” content=”39.040409, -94.598657″ /
Here’s a great Geo Meta Tag tool that will create these for your business address
Internal Links and External Anchor Text
One of the ways that you can enhance the local nature of your onsite and offsite content is to add local keywords in the internal links on your pages (Links that send people to another pages on within you site). So a remodeling contractor that is showcasing kitchen and bath projects located in San Diego would have links to the project pages that would read San Diego Kitchens and San Diego Baths rather than simply Baths or Kitchens.
You also want to add local keywords to the text used to link back to your site from places like LinkedIn or in article directories. So if you’re an attorney in Texas rather than using your URL or firm name in a link you might use Dallas Texas Bankruptcy Attorney as the words or anchor text for a link to your site.
Google is busy creating some of its own HTML coding to help it find and display local content and by using what are known as rich snippets you can help Google find geographic information, information about people in your business and reviews of products and services.
Beyond improving the presentation of your pages in search results, rich snippets also help users find your website when it references a local place. By using structured markup to describe a business or organization mentioned on your page, you not only improve the Web by making it easier to recognize references to specific places but also help Google surface your site in local search results.
Here’s a good tutorial for Rich Snippets and Google’s explanation of Rich Snippets for Local Search
It’s become an extremely good idea to add a blog or even use blog software to run you entire site. This format gives more flexibility when it comes to adding pages and content.
Many businesses can create tremendous local content by adding features such as an events calendar or coverage of local happenings around town. It’s not too hard to find an angle that is relevant to your business, interests or industry and then use it as a vehicle for producing local content.
If you partner with local non-profits you might consider giving them coverage on your site.
One great marketing strategy is to develop a team of local strategic partners – other businesses that serve your same market. These partners should be looked at as a great source of potential potent local content.
Invite each member of your team to contribute content to your blog. Create video interviews with team members and add directory pages with full local descriptions and ask that they link to these pages with local anchor text.
Find relevant local bloggers using a tool like placeblogger to exchange links and content with.
Don’t forget to get your customers in the act too. Create video success stories and describe the local nature of these customers.
Take a little time over each week to knock out one of these tips and in a little over month your local site overhaul will be paying dividends.