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Local Search Pays Off: Help You Local Business Flourish Online

May 26, 2009

In today’s highly competitive business world, Local search is the place where small businesses can definitely gain an advantage over big corporations and chains. Ranking well in Local search will open the doors to prospects located within the area your business operates and thus will significantly fuel the growth of your local business. Realizing this, more and more small business owners are becoming actively involved in it.

Local search is any search made with the intention of finding information, product or service in a specific geographic location/area. It is estimated that 30 to 40 percent of searches are local in nature. On top of it, search engines are increasingly serving local results for search queries with implicit local intent.

A survey shows that 90% of online commercial searches results in local offline purchases, and 61% of all local searches ends up in a transaction. In other words, unlike general web searchers who in the most cases are looking for pre-purchase information, people looking for local businesses are much closer to a buying decision. They are prepared to buy, and you need to ensure that they will make the purchase from your online store. To put it in perspective, there is a huge opportunity for small businesses to attract local clientele at little or no cost.

In order to help your local business flourish online, you can take a few steps that will positively affect your local search rankings:

Localize Your Site Content

Having a well-optimized web site can significantly influence your local search rankings for a particular keyword. The on-page factors that you fully control, such as putting your city/state in the title tags of your web site and placing your address and phone number with area code in text format on your pages, are often neglected by small business owners. Your contact information is important for search engines and your customers alike who would like to know it, so you can’t afford missing it.

There are two key places where you could mention your location:

About Us page: Usually, an About us page presents the company and its core activities. In addition, it would be great to tell your prospects where you’re located. Users will be looking for that kind of information, and if they find it, they will trust your company more. It will also act as a good citation for the search engines.

Contact page: If, for whatever reason, you don’t list it on your "About Us" page, you should set up a comprehensible “Contact Us” page displaying your location, a map, the cities you serve, hours, email address, fax number, phone number, and any other information associated with your location.

Claim Your Business Listing on Google, Yahoo, and MSN

The next step to take is to get your business listed for local searches on Google, Yahoo and MSN. You could add your business listing for free to all three major search engines, and the registration process is fairly simple.

Make sure your local business listings on Google local, Yahoo local, and MSN local are complete, accurate, and up to date.

One of the most important stages in the registration process is the choice of categories. Use the keywords, you have already chosen and optimized your site for, as your categories. Having a particular keyword in your category or in your business title will positively affect your rankings for that keyword. If you have discovered that your local customers are using a particular search term to find your listing, don't hesitate to create a new category. You can choose multiple categories, but use them wisely as you might run the risk of diluting the focus of your keywords.

You should also pay special attention to the description of your company. Do not only copy and paste the content from your website or About Us page. Think of what your local customers are looking for when they searches for local keywords, and try to give them what they want to find.

Get Listed in Local Search Engines and Business Directories

You may already be aware that no all searchers use the three major search engines when it comes to local search. Many users flock to local search engines and business directories to find information related to a specific area.

There are a huge amount of websites and directories that provide local business information, such as Internet yellow pages and sites like Local.com, Yelp, CitySearch, Kudzu, InsiderPages, TouchLocal.com, WeLoveLocal.com, AllPages, GetListed.org, and Localeze. All they give businesses the opportunity to create accurate listings in their indexes.

It can be quite a tedious task since it takes a lot of time, effort and energy but you will have to entirely fill out your listing on each site. Your only purpose is to have full and accurate information about your company on as many places as possible. Both Google and Yahoo use these directories as citations to shape their own local results. So, take the time to create your listings precisely.

It would be better to use the same information across all of these web sites which will greatly reduce the confusion in the search engines. This information should also be relevant to what the search engines see on your web pages.

Get Good Reviews

Reviews are reasonably important to ranking in the local search space. Presently, it seems the number of reviews is more influential than whether they are positive or negative ones.

However, from customers’ perspective, reviews, ratings, and comments are a decisive factor in picking out who to do business with. So reviews are of great importance to your potential customers. For that reason, ever encourage loyal customers to spread the word about your products and services online.

Being small doesn’t mean that you can not compete successfully with the bigger players. You just need to be smarter and to do all the little things that will make the difference. Since local business listings have the power to drive a substantial amount of targeted traffic to your small business store, you will have to accomplish all of the steps needed to rank well in Google Maps, Yahoo Local and MSN Local.


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