When was the last time you cracked open your phone book to find a local business, such as a plumber, electrician, lawyer, or dentist?
Chances are your telephone book is gathering dust, while your customers are actively searching for the services you offer on the Web.
They’re also searching via their mobile devices, enhanced 411 services such as Google 411, and finding you on a map rather than in a business directory.
Of the 10 billion unique searches conducted each month in the US, an estimated 40% are considered to have ‘local intent,’ that is, for local services, businesses, and products. Needless to say, if your local business isn’t focusing on dominating the local search space, you’re leaving money on the table.
Traditionally, a local search query has always been in the form of name of your service area or city + the type of service you offer. For example, you customer may be looking for a “chiropractor in Chicago” or “personal injury attorney Boston.” As search algorithms have matured over the years, search engines have become smarter at understanding not only the “local intent” behind a search query, but also where the searcher is located, called “geotargeting.” For example, if you now search on Google for the term “sushi”, you’ll likely find sushi restaurants close to where you live. This technology is especially useful on mobile devices, such as the iPhone and Blackberry.
In order to maximize the chances of your business being visible on local searches, you optimize your website for local search. You’ll also want to optimize the business profiles you may have at other websites and local listing profiles on various search engines.
How Do I Get Started in Local Search Optimization?
In this series of local search optimization articles, you’ll find in-depth instructions on how to optimize your local search presence from start to finish.
- How to Optimize your Website for Local Search
- How to Claim your Local Business Listings on Major Search Engines
- 10 Steps to Building a Well Optimized Local Business Listing
- How to Promote and Syndicate Your Local Business Data
- How to Get Reviews and Citations for Your Local Business
- How to Purchase Local Pay Per Click Advertising
Local search is the fastest growing area of search today. Aside from offering an excellent return on both your time and monetary investment, local search leads have proven to bring customers with higher than average intent to purchase your products or hire you for your services.
How To Get Started?
The first step in dominating your local SEO opportunities is to determine the state of your existing local business profiles that third party data providers may be aware of. To do this, head over to www.getlisted.org, input your business name and ZIP code, and click “check listings.” Your listing snapshot will provide you a listing score as well as telling you whether you’ve claimed your business profiles on Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Best of the Web Local. As we’ll explain in the next article in this series, claiming your listing is the first step in gaining control of your listings and sending the search engines the right signals to index and rank your profiles properly. Claiming your listings is also the best preventive measure against your listing being hijacked or edited by an unscrupulous competitor.
In summary, you’ve now learned why local SEO is an important component of marketing your small or medium business via search engines and internet yellow page type websites in addition to determining your listing score, or how complete the state of your local business listings are in on different business data providers.
Watch for Part 2 tomorrow – How to Claim and Optimize Your Local Business Listings on Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
Dev Basu is a Toronto based Search Engine Optimization, Local Search, Internet Marketing, and Social Media Expert. Dev is the founder and CEO of Powered by Search, an internet marketing agency based in Toronto. He blogs on the topic of Local Search and Small business marketing at his personal blog, Search Marketing Insights.