Approximately 50% of all searches performed on Google each day are local searches and over 75% of people searching will call or visit a local business within 24 hours. This means that if you do nothing more than optimize for local search you could still see a significant improvement in the amount of leads and sales your business generates online.

What is Local Search?

Local search marketing is a form of search engine optimization in which keywords or phrases are combined with a geographic modifier. While it may sound complex it is actually pretty simple, here is an example. The phrase “SEO marketing services” is a standard long tail keyword. The phrase “St Louis SEO marketing services” is a local phrase since it includes the location. Much like standard SEO, local search is geared towards improving your keyword rankings in order to boost your website traffic. The difference between local and national SEO lies in how you go about optimizing. Below we are going to take a look at how you can improve your local search rankings.

Selecting Keyword

The first step of the process requires you to locate potential keywords that can provide traffic and provide you with an ROI. Several tools exist for finding keywords, but one of the simplest ways to get started is the Google Keyword Tool . You can enter some terms that you believe people may use to find products or services that you offer and it will return a list of other ideas. You can look through the list and find a few terms that get 200 or more searches monthly. You then need to select a few of the terms that are most relevant to your business and have the most search traffic. While I could write a book about keyword selection, the aforementioned information will get you started.

Preparing Your Website

Once you have compiled a list of terms that are highly relevant to your business, you need to include them into your website. There are certain areas that your keywords and related terms need to appear. The title of you page should include the keyword that is most relevant to that page. You should also mention the keyword a few times throughout the page, but do not overdo it or you will be penalized. If you have images on the page you should also include keyword or variations of keywords in the “alt tag” for the images. Again, there are numerous other things you can do to improve your website but those three areas are a good start. You can find even more tips in the Google Webmaster Guide.

Building Local Citations

When you are attempting to rank for a national or international keyword, you build links to your site in order to build the domain authority of your website. This allows you to rank for keywords, gaining organic traffic. Local SEO also involves link building, but the strategy is different. When trying to rank for a local term, you need to build links that give you authoritative local citations. Creating profiles on sites such as Google Local, Yelp, and Foursquare and ensuring that your business name, number, and address appear identically on each site is how local citations are made. Repeat this process across the hundreds of local citation sites and you will begin to build a stronger local presence. You can also reach out to places like the local Chamber of Commerce and the local branch of the Better Business Bureau to get two very good local citations.

Avoiding Common Local SEO Pitfalls

While the overview above may sound pretty simple, there are more than a few ways in which your local SEO campaign can go terribly wrong. One of the simplest, yet most overlook items is your address. Make sure that you place the address of your business in on your website, preferably in the footer of each page. You should also record the exact format of your business name, address, and phone number to be certain you enter the exact same way every time. While not directly related to SEO, be sure to include images on every profile as it will entice more people to visit your website. Last but not least, do not add your business to every directory on the same day. Join about 3 sites per day.
Optimizing for local search is not an easy task but if you find the right target keywords and optimize correctly you will have the highest converting form of marketing at your disposal. If you feel discouraged just remember, leads from local SEO convert at 14% on average compared to just fewer than 3% for other, more expensive forms of marketing such as print.

Travis Bliffen

Travis Bliffen’s work has been featured on sites such as Website Magazine and he truly enjoys sharing information with his readers.