local seoThe Question

Depending on your resources, market, and goals, there are countless internet marketing tools and strategies available to you and your small business. However, if you are still on the sidelines, have just started marketing online, or are limited by budget, time, or experience, you may still be trying to decide on the most efficient marketing strategy.

The Answer

If your small business relies even partially on local internet or foot traffic for clientele, your first priority has to be “Local” SEO.

What is “Local” SEO

No, I’m not suggesting you hire the self proclaimed SEO Guru that lives down the street from you, in this context “Local” SEO is a strategy to optimize your web presence for locally based search queries, otherwise known as “local search”.

A 2011 survey from Harris Interactive (sponsored by CityGrid Media) revealed that 59% of those surveyed (83% of those under the age of 35) indicated that the search engines are the first place that they go when searching for local businesses. Slightly fewer than 10% actually visit the merchant’s site directly.

The major search engines, recognizing that search is the predominant way that people look for information about local businesses online, have developed a mechanism to ensure that “local” businesses appear on the Search Engine Results Pages for highly competitive, high volume search terms.

A portion of the Search Engine Results Page for those terms is reserved for local businesses that have registered with the search engines, and have been verified as having an address in that geographic region.

Identifying the “Local” Search Results

A typical Search Engine Results page will have up to 3 paid ads at the top of the page. These ads are the results of a Pay Per Click campaign by those companies, in which they bid for position on the search engine results pages . The PPC ads can be identified by their position at the top of the page, and the pink box that highlights them.

Pay Per Click (PPC) Listings

The PPC ads are usually followed by 0-3 organic listings. The organic, or natural listings are free, and represent companies that have web pages that are well optimized for that keyword or phrase.

Organic Search Engine Listings

The “local” ads appear after the 0-3 organic ads. The ads themselves are narrower than the organic listings and consist of the business name but lack the description that follows the organic listing. You will also see an image of the Google “Pin”, and an address and phone number to the right of the ad.

Generally, seven local ads will be displayed with a link to “see more” at the bottom of the list.

Local Search Engine Results

Setting Up for “Local” SEO

Registering with the search engines as a “local” business is free and relatively painless. Simply go to the registration site for Google, Bing, and Yahoo, fill out the information, follow the verification directions and you’re business could appear in the “local” search results!

Local Search Optimization

Registering for local search qualifies your website to appear in the “local” listings. However, with only 7 spots available, not all businesses that register can appear on the first page. Where your business appears in the “local” listings display depends on 3 factors:

  1. On-Page Optimization
  2. Citations and Links
  3. Reviews and Recommendations

I will be covering these factors, plus “local” registration in future articles. Check back again tomorrow, or simply subscribe to have them delivered to your Reader.

Thanks for reading. As always comments and questions are welcomed and appreciated!

Have you registered your business for local search yet?