Showing up in the top of the search results for local searches is quickly becoming some of the most important local real estate going. The advent of mobile search makes this shrinking bit of turf even more important.
Below is a list of 5 ways you can enhance your organization’s chances of showing up at the top of the heap for local searches, even in highly competitive categories.
1) Location content
It’s important that you review the content on your web pages with an eye on adding geography based terms and content. Add it to your HTML through page titles. Add it to your page footer with addresses. Add it to your internal linking anchor text – Omaha plumbing supplies instead of just plumbing supplies. Don’t overdo it and makes certain that real humans are kept in mind, but amp up the local content, including the names of suburbs, neighborhoods, companies and events that are commonly linked to your area of service.
In addition to localized content on your own site, you should consider adding content to sites like Flickr, YouTube, and Slideshare and adding very localized tags, descriptions, links and file names. (Don’t get spammy, but do get descriptive)
2) Location pages
Google SEO education spokesperson, Matt Cutts, recently said without reservation that businesses that serve multiple locations and communities should create individual pages for those communities and optimize those pages so that search engines understood exactly what they were about. I think this is about as clear an invitation to having location based landing pages are you can get. Businesses should consider separate pages for each location, suburb and community they serve. These pages should feature unique content and be optimized for hyper local search. This is the place I would also add a sidebar of local events and happenings with neighborhood, school and not for profit organizations. (You could use RSS technology to ease this chore.)
3) Profile pages
Profile pages on local and social networks are a must. Hopefully you’ve already claimed your Google Places, Yahoo Local and Bing Local pages and taken full advantage of the fact that you can optimize that content with lots of links, photos, and descriptions.
Take a look at the new Google Places tags and posts features that allow you to buy enhancements to what shows on your listing for local search, including the ability to change coupons and special deals on the fly.
Build these same types of profiles on the major social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook, but don’t bypass business portals and community niche sites. (Here’s a list of business related social networks to get you started) Also, try this list of social bookmarking sites that allow do follow links. These may carry more weight if the site is popular at all. (Go for anchor text links when you can – local keyword phrases for the link as opposed to just the URL)
Citations are simply listings for your business in various high profile business directories. This factor is probably the least talked about, but considered very important in a recent survey of local SEO experts conducted by David Mihm’s fabulous Local Search Ranking Factors report.
Two of the easiest ways to get more citations are to update and enhance your InfoUSA listing (they provide info to lots of directories) and to pony up the $30 a year to get a Universal Business Listing (another source provider for many directories). If you want to learn more about this topic you should also spend some time nosing around GetListed.org.
5) Location backlinks
Links from relevant sites have always played a very big role in how a site ranks. Quantity and quality count here, but quality is the biggest concern. When you are trying to rank highly for local search terms quality links from other sites should contain local anchor text what at all possible.
Look for local bloggers in sites like placeblogger, with an eye on finding related sites that might welcome your guest post and make sure you include a link back to your site in the body of the post in your bio.
Take advantage of associations, including alumni, Chambers and networking groups as potential homes for your content and links. Look for local publications that would welcome your guest columns for their online features. Work your vendors, suppliers and strategic partner network to develop opportunities for local links back to your site. Obviously if you are blogging (and you should be) you’ve got a ready make device to reciprocate and link out to other local businesses and events – a practice that both creates high value localized content and draws links to you.