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Geography 101: The Basics of Getting Found in Local Search

Last updated 2 years ago

When customers are searching for your business online, what do they find? If your online marketing isn’t optimized for local search, they might not find you at all. Even worse, they might find your competitors who are using local search marketing tactics to target customers searching for local businesses or services.

In order to help your local customers find you when they search for you online, make sure you are implementing these basic strategies to optimize your presence in local search results.

Claim Your Listing on Google
Claiming your local business on Google Places is a simple way to help improve your performance in local search and boost your ranking on the local search engine results page. A well-optimized Google Place Page can rank at the top of the search results page and show up well in the map section, too.    

Claim Your Google+ Page for Google+ Local
Yesterday, Google announced a new initiative called Google+ Local. Essentially, this will update the look and feel of Google Place Pages and integrate them into the Google+ community as well. You will still manage your listing information, including business details, through Google Places for Business, and Google recommends that businesses claim a Google+ page as well. The company will share how to link the Google Place Page and Google+ page for a business at a later date.

Another feature of Google+ Local is that it will integrate information from Zagat, a review site acquired last year by Google. This change will allow users to see local business information, reviews and recommendations from others within the user’s Google+ circles. This new “Local” tab in Google+ is designed to improve local search for consumers by displaying more quality and targeted search results and will be integrated across Google Search, Maps, Android devices, and soon iOS devices.  

Claim Your Business on Local Directories 
Signing up your business on local directories is an easy and inexpensive way to help your business appear in local search results. In addition to Google Places, both Yahoo! and Bing provide local businesses the opportunity to claim their businesses and locations. Other local directories to consider using include Yelp, MerchantCircle, SuperMedia, LocalPages, and Citysearch. A quick search can generate dozens more, including directories that are specific to your industry. Signing up for as many as you can manage and keep regularly updated can help boost your ranking on search pages and maximize your visibility to potential customers. But realize that it’s critical to keep these updated and accurate, otherwise you may actually hurt your local search results. So don’t commit to more than you can reasonably manage.

Include Your Location on Your Social Media Profile Pages
Social media sites are becoming top of mind when it comes to consumers searching for local businesses. And since engineers at Facebook are working on social search engine, being found on social media may become even more important than it is now. Sites you should highly consider building a profile page for your business include Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter.

Bid on Local Keywords
Localizing your keywords helps you target your local audience and helps ensure that potential customers searching for a local business find you in their search results. Consider bidding on keywords for your neighborhood, town, city, or general area, and on local keywords that your customers may search for.

Check for Consistent Information Across Profile Pages
If your business information doesn’t match across your profile pages and local listings, your efforts may not be as successful. Make sure to check that all of your information, including business name, hours of operation, phone numbers, and especially your location, are consistent. If not, you may risk losing potential customers because of an error that’s easy to avoid. Plus, the accuracy of your business detail information across your business web presence can affect the optimization of your Google Place Page in search.

Extra Credit:

Here are a few additional ideas you can consider to help local customers find you.

  • Adding a Google map to your website is a free feature offered by Google that allows you to embed Google Maps on a Web page. There are many options available, so determine which makes the most sense to reach your local customers.
  • Optimizing your site for mobile devices is becoming more important as more people search for local businesses and services on the go. By 2015, mobile local search volume will catch up with desktop local search volume. Making sure your website and search advertising is optimized for mobile will help local customers find you when they search away from their computers.
  • Leverage partner or community websites to target specific local customers. Neighborhood, homeowner association and apartment complex websites are great places to advertise to large groups of local customers. If they accept advertisers, ask them to include a link to your business. If your business gains new customers from these partner websites, make sure to ask your new customers to leave you a review on your review site.

Have you tried any other ways to make sure your local customers can find you? Let us know in the comments!

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About the Author
Tara Banda writes about how small business owners can reach local customers through online marketing for the ReachLocal blog. You can connect with her on Twitter.

 

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