What is Local Search?
Local Search is the new intelligence coming out of the Search Engines. Where web users were once presented with Global search engine results, users are now presented with very specific search results relevant to them, based on their geographical position.
Gone are the days where users have to actually TYPE locations into the search bar to ensure more relevant, localised results. The major Search Engines now assume users are looking for local results and where possible, filter search results to ensure only local companies are listed.
What does this mean for Search Engine Optimisation?
Before this question can be answered, it is important to explain how the search engines decide on the position that online content ranks.
Search engines decide on what order to rank competing website pages based on an algorithm. To rank higher in the search engines, online content must be optimised in a way that appeals to that algorithm – this process is called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
Local Search is the same as normal search, except a heavier weight is given to localised keywords or search terms.
In order for your online content to rank well in local search results, your online content must be optimised in a way that appeals to the ‘local search algorithm’.
The ‘Local search algorithm’ is distinct and different to the search engines traditional algorithm.
Here is how to optimise a website or website page for local search
1. Register your website on Google Places: Set up a Google Places account and fill in all your contact details, including your address. The more information you can include on Google Places, the better! Remember to include your keywords in the descriptive boxes and include links back to your website where possible. By claiming your spot on Google Places, you are also enabling your business to appear for Google+ Local mobile searches.
2. Optimise your website content for geo-targeted keywords. So include the city/town name in your meta-data, in your H-tags and of course in your content.
3. Include ‘Contact Us’ sections on these pages, detailing your business address, directions and contact details. Remember to include a Google Maps plugin with your business location pinned.
4. Use Social Media – get involved with local social media groups and communities. A lot of back-links, referrals, likes and connections from other local companies will only strengths your position.
5. Get local ratings – good reviews and 5 star ratings always get people’s attention. Encourage reviews and ratings by offering promotions or request through a follow up email. Again, the more local reviews you get, the more weight to your local positioning.
6. Deal with different locations – If you have multiple locations, create different landing pages. Optimise the location-specific landing page with location-specific keywords. This is a highly effective way of capturing that long-tail, location-specific traffic.
7. Give back! Link out to other related and complimentary businesses. Create a local network with other companies relevant to your website users. By exchanging content and links with relevant local companies you are strengthening your position as the local company of choice for your products or services.
8. Get links from local directories – not only will you get direct traffic from users searching in these directories, you will also gain the SEO advantage of having high-quality back-links from other localised websites.
One last tip for Local Search…
To really stand out in local listings, you should choose an eye-catching photo as your main profile image. Therefore you need to claim and enhance your Google Places listing and put your best photo front and center!