Right now, in every community in America, increasing numbers of people of all ages are turning to the world wide web to find products and services right there at home.
This trend, known generically as local search, presents a huge opportunity for small businesses who focus on winning in this arena. Below are 7 steps every local business should explore today in order to gain a competitive advantage in their local markets. (Someone in your market and industry will do this, why not you?)
1) Register with the primary local and social search engines and directories. Make sure you are listed on site building directories with user generated reviews. Get in those as well and manage your online reputation. (You can get this done for you on a local profile page - Local Search Profile)
2) Optimize your web site for local search. Put local terms in you page titles - not Home page. Put local terms in your anchor text - not Kitchens - New York Kitchens. Put local terms in your H1 and H2 tags. Put local terms in your body copy.
3) Put a map on your site. You can also use a simple tool to customize a map for your business. Make sure that you also include very specific driving directions to your location or locations so that you can include major streets and landmarks creating more local content.
4) Check your InfoUSA listing. InfoUSA compiles lists for direct mail and telemarketing but they also provide a great deal of the directory listing information for many of the smaller search directories. Go here and make sure your listing is correct and up to date. You can also add things like your web site address to the profile.
5) Add local content. You should create several pages of content on your site focused on local angels. You can report local news, talk about your firm's history in a town, give an overview of non-profit activities, even report on the various suburbs your staff hails from. Don't forget to put your physical mailing address on every page - that's local content too.
6) Add a Blog. A blog - not a free blogger one, but one that resides on your domain - is one of the most powerful local search tools going. You can simply post about things going on in the community, school events, neighborhood block parties, the local sports teams. It's helpful if you can do this and post content that is relevant to your primary business, but as long as the towns and neighborhoods you want to score well in the search engines with are in your posts and titles, you will get some serious lift for those terms.
7) Get local inbound links. The search engines give lots of credit for links that are coming back to your site from other sites. Go out there and find some local directories or strategic partners that will link back to your site but don't have them link back to your business name - Joe's Pet Shop. Have them link back to your site with a local search term like - Toledo's Biggest Pet Shop.