You work hard to get traffic to your website, following all of the SEO best practices. But there is a significant segment of the population you may be overlooking: visitors from your local area.

local search engine optimization

Local SEO can help get people in your area to visit your website by finding you in location specific searches. This extremely targeted traffic can be yours in just a few minutes time, and at no cost, by simply following these five local SEO best practices:

  1. Claim your profile on Google Places. Leaving these profiles as they appear by default is setting potential customers up for disappointment at the lack of information they find. A default profile usually contains very basic information such as company name, address and sometimes a phone number. With that little to go on, there is nothing to entice customers to look further and no website for them to visit. Claiming your profile allows you control over the content and the ability to add helpful details.
  2. Develop your Places profile. A fully fleshed profile has many more opportunities to convert visitors into website traffic. Photos and videos to help describe your offerings add another element of usability to your profile and help capture attention. Encourage your current customers to provide reviews, and do not worry about a few less than positive reviews. They show that legitimate people are reviewing your business. Lastly, use powerful incentives such as coupons to motivate people to visit your website and sign up or buy from you.
  3. Categorize your Google Places listing. Placing your business in the proper category will help direct traffic from broad queries by putting your business information where it belongs. Someone searching for dog day care is not going to give your child day care business a second look. Add as many categories as are relevant to generate the most traffic, but do not add categories your business does not operate in, as this will just lower the quality of your results and frustrate visitors looking for something you do not provide.
  4. Add relevant keywords to the titles on your website.
    The title field of your page will be shown on blended Google Places results, so carefully sprinkle your titles with keywords that will catch the attention of users. Using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool can help you identify useful local search terms to integrate into your website page titles. Relevant titles are already an important part of SEO best practices, but you can fine-tune these titles to attract additional customers using location specific searches.
  5. Place your address on every page of your website. This helps Google identify you by location and provides relevance for your website in local search results. Additionally, if your business has multiple locations, be sure to create a unique landing page for every location, complete with address and telephone number.

Each of these local SEO best practices takes only a few minutes to implement, but can offer fast, far-reaching results by generating targeted local traffic to your website. Even if your business is not location specific, local visitors may feel an additional element of trust in knowing you are one of them. Cultivating community ties can be a powerful business tool.