Monday, March 30, 2015

A Complete Guide : Optimize Your Website For Local Search

Even though .Com .Org and .Net are the most popular domain types, if you wish to dominate the local market and have not a care for international traffic, might as well begin with country specific domains like .UK .US and so on. This is the starting point. There's a lot more you can do to make sure just about everyone in your locality knows about you.

Geo-targeted Content
Fresh content consistently published is a must to rank in any SERP, local or otherwise, but when you are targeting a particular area, it pays to have things related to the area in your content. Get creative and do this even though, ordinarily, it is not really possible to include local names in every article that you post. One way might be to maintain a format where you try to find a relevant success story of a local customer or something along those lines and either insert it in the main article or post it in a box, preferably above the fold. All you need to make sure is that in some manner, it should remain relevant to the page.

Help and Be Helped
You don't need to eulogize your competitors, but if you have a restaurant, you can always write local places where you get your ingredients from. This way, your site is helpful to local customers - someone may want to buy meat for home cooking, and they know where to go thanks to you - but builds a goodwill among other businesses as well. If they are into online promotions as well, you can expect a back link or two after a while, in addition to possible word of mouth publicity.

Catch Customers by the (Long) Tail
Pay attention to local search patterns and list out all the viable long tail buying keywords. Use them to draw targeted traffic. Consider creating exclusive landing pages for each of the key-phrases.

Locate Yourself - in Detail
This is elementary, but if you have branches at several locations, you must optimize content about all of them. You could create separate pages or micro-sites, or have several blogs as sub-domains of your main site (you must have a main or original branch office, right?). And, of course, include contact details of all branches prominently.

Schema markups can give searchers an extremely detailed presentation of all that you may need to tell them - your business hours, days when you remain open or closed, if there are special closing or opening times on certain days of the week and so on. Either hire somebody or visit Schema.Org yourself to understand how the markups can enhance your sales. Schema is the result of a collaboration between Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! to create a better web experience. Naturally, therefore, if you use the markups, you are in good books of the search engines and stand to gain better organic exposure as a result.

Be the Bearer of Some News
Don't just keep to your business. Have a column or a series of articles where you write about local happenings. Is someone holding an art exhibition at the local gallery? A theater being staged? A music festival being organized? Someone of some social stature getting married? Some fortunate or unfortunate incident that drew attention recently? Write about or list them all. You could refer to our first point about getting geo-targeted content and see if some of the suggestions work for you. Or have a distinct section for this. Your site will soon become a supplement to the daily newspaper and people will come to check out what's new, increasing your overall traffic and your rank. Display a printed version of your site at your local office. Give them to your customers (for free, of course) for extra publicity.

Easy as this may sound, it will probably require you to have a team or network ready to supply you with the recent local news. Some kind of connection with the local newspaper office (if any) might help. Calculate the cost of maintaining such an operation against the profit that you are likely to make from this strategy before you begin.

Take Advantage of Google's Generosity
Google, in addition to local search listings, has a number of very good opportunities for small businesses. These include free domain and hosting for a limited period of time and all resources that you need to make your business grow. Research and take advantage of what may be relevant to your particular situation.

Increase Your Listings
Use GetListed.Org to find out which local directories you should submit your site to. Keep the same business name and contact details in each case. If there is a section for testimonials, make sure you have some from your satisfied customers (ask your regular customers). Director listings often come up in local searches even ahead of the business site. Take advantage of the competition that this obviously is and make sure you are found, anyway.

Be Popular!
Review other businesses that are not likely to be your competitors - for the restaurant business, if you know of a joint that specializes in steaks but is located quite a distance from you, review and recommend them. Similarly, create a list of other restaurants that people can go to and include their contact details as well as photographs if possible. There are many possibilities - you can even contact the respective restaurant owners and ask them to help you out in whatever way they may want to in return for your gesture.

Work on Your Virtual Social Skills
Definitely create a Facebook Page and keep updating it regularly. Request your customers to 'Like' the page if service has been satisfactory. Post deals and offers from your business as well as related ones. Be a people's person and promote your business in the social circles in as less salesy a manner as possible. Google +1s are generally accepted to be more valuable in terms of SEO (at least with the Google Search Engine) than Facebook Likes. Create your presence there as well by following the same strategies as you did on Facebook. Twitter is the other social network giant - find ways to tweet your presence regularly. However, there is just one thing to bear in mind: involve yourself in only as many social networks as you can be regular in. Unanswered questions, ignored friend requests and unappreciated re-tweets will not make you popular.

Write for Others
We mean, of course, guest post on other people's blogs. Use your experience to create really good pieces. If people like your content, they will likely want to find out more about you - when you guest post on various blogs, you get to face a larger audience than you could hope for from only your own blog or site. Also, there is the back link with each guest post (read about the latest Google updates to understand how you should use anchor texts and links) that will help with your organic SEO.

All this may seem like a lot of work, and it is, but if you take one thing at a time and work on it till you see results, you will probably feel more enthusiastic about getting to the next one. If you do not take shortcuts, these strategies can really make you stand out as a social presence with a more powerful reputation than the average local business ordinarily has.
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