Optimising Websites for Local Search

Optimising for local search is much like regular search engine optimisation—you can’t go far wrong with good content, quality links, and attention to detail. The difference is that local search demands just a bit more attention to detail.

1. Claim your spot on Google Places
Start optimising for local search by making sure you can be found in Google Places. Once you’ve claimed your place, you’ll be available on Google Search, Maps, and Google+. You’ll be able to respond to user reviews, track actions, and give driving directions. People with mobile devices will be able to search for your address, phone number, and business hours. You can also register on other sites, such as Yahoo and Bing.

2. Get listed in local directories
Getting listed in relevant local directories becomes crucial once you have a dedicated local page. Make sure your citation information (name, address, phone number, and description) matches what’s in your Google Places listing. Google may discredit your business if there are inconsistencies.

3. Include local information on the website
The next step is to do a search for your business. Include your city or locality. If you can’t find your business, you’ll need to take corrective measures by including contact info on every page of your website. This increases your exposure and improves your ranking. Try to mention your city and area in your titles, meta tags, and content, but not to the point that it becomes keyword-stuffing. Only put information where it makes sense so your content sounds natural.

4. Build high-quality local links
It’s always nice to have other websites talking about your website. But unless you operate worldwide, it’s probably better if those websites belonged to local businesses. You won’t get any help from direct competitors but you ought to be able to exchange links with complementary businesses. If you’re a car dealership, for example, you should be friends with the nearby repair shop. Encourage sharing by being the first business to do so and build a community that caters to your shared customer base.

5. Identify local search terms
To optimise your website, you have to know what people are looking for. To optimise for local search you have to know what local people are looking for. Products get called different things—knowing whether it’s a ‘soda’ or a ‘fizzy drink’ can make a difference if you’re a soft drink supplier. What keywords have visitors used to get to your website? How might you adjust your vocabulary? Local search terms are usually a combination of the services you offer and the city or town where you offer them—industry-specific terms plus geospecific terms. Include geographically-relevant search terms on all your pages. Add the surrounding towns, which searchers may also look for.

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