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Local Search: Organically Speaking
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Well continuing with our "Local Search" theme this week. I wanted to look at some tips for helping site owners gain a presence in the Local Search engines and related local web properties. As you know there are a ton of options when it comes to local search. Not only do you have the major search engines offering local search products including:
  • Yahoo Local
  • Google Local/Maps
  • City Search
  • Windows Live Local
  • Local.AOL
  • ASK City
You also have other properties such as:
  • SuperPages.com
  • YellowPage.com
  • Local.com
  • MapQuest
  • AOL Local Yellow Pages
  • Yelp
  • 411.com
Of course I could go on and on as there are numerous other local search resources available. So what can you do to get your site listed in these resources so that you appear in the natural listings of local search and so that when a user searches for "plumbers in Detroit" your site is found? Well organically speaking you have limited control over determining your placement in the local search results. In fact we have contacted Yahoo to find out more about organic strategies for being listed in the "organic results" in Yahoo. There response was, "..there is no real way to control your presence in the Yahoo Local results..." Enter GEO-targeting through paid placement. (that's another post for another time...)

However here are a few basic tips that you'll need to follow to at least be found in the local search results:
  1. Have A Physical Address - Guess what? Local search is designed for small to medium businesses that have one (or possibly more) physical locations. You need to have a physical address for your store, branch or office.

  2. Communicate Your Address on Your Website - you need to illustrate to the search engines and more importantly, your users as to where your business can be found. A great place to start is your Contact Us page. At the very minimum ensure that your have an updated, full address listing on your Contact Us page for your store, branch or office. If you have multiple locations, list them here as well. If you have a large number of branches, you may want to create a series of pages with your various branch information.

  3. Create Local / GEO Targeted Content on Your Site - ah yes another supporting reason why "Content is King". Things such as articles or state-wide statistics can be a great way to provide information to your various geographic targets. Feature testimonials about how someone in Boise used your product or service and was happy with the results. " Locally focused content" can also act as great link bait and improve the authority of your site in a specific geographic locale.

  4. Obtain Links from Other Sites Within the Same GEO Area - For relevancy purposes, try to obtain links to your local pages or local copy from sites that are in the same area. Try to obtain relevant links from local colleges or universities, local directories, local Chamber of Commerce sites etc.

  5. Check Your Listings - Chances are you may already be listed in some of the various local search properties. Perform a search for your company name and see what comes up. If a listing does come up, log in or set up an account to edit the listing. Try to include your site URL, a detailed description of your business (incorporate your main keywords where possible.), an image of your store/office location, hours of operation and any other pertinent information that users will find useful. If the local engine has various categories, ensure that your business is found in the most relevant categories.
While local search may not be effective for all businesses, you will want to make sure that your business has some sort of presence in the local search engines. Start with the basics, let the search engines know where your business can be found. Provide an attractive listing for users and map out a local search strategy that works for you.


posted by Jody @ Thursday, February 21, 2008  
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