Why Optimize for Local Search? It’s in the Numbers
- Approximately 3 billion search queries contain local terms every month. (Source: comScore)
- 70% of online searchers will use local search to find offline businesses. (Source: Kelsey Group)
- 20% of Google searches are for local information. (Source: HubSpot via Google)
How to Optimize for Local Search on Your Website
- Blog, blog, blog. Every new blog is a new indexed page for your site, a new page on which to target a geographic search phrase, and a new opportunity to get found in the search engine results pages (SERPs). If you’re having trouble coming up with geo-targeted content, consider highlighting customer success stories and case studies.
- Write about complementary local services. If you sell screwdrivers, talk about someone in your area who sells screws. It lets you write helpful content about your geographic area in a relevant way so you’re not faced with awkward keyword stuffing that Google’s algorithm punishes. Plus, it builds good will with local businesses that can introduce you to new customers, and possibly result in an inbound link in the future.
- Optimize the 5 crucial on-page SEO elements. That means your page title, URL, header tags, image alt text, and page content should be optimized with local terms. Here’s an example of a page that is well optimized for local search. You can also make use of the vertical bar in page titles as an easy way of consistently indicating your location to search engines.
- Target long-tail keyword variations for your geographic area. If you’re selling unicorn costumes, you might want to cover unicorn costumes in Detroit, unicorn costumes in metro Detroit, and unicorn costumes in southeastern Michigan. Cover all the ways people might refer to your city in your keyword research so you can capitalize on all the different ways people find you on the web. You can perform long-tail keyword research in Google’s Keyword Tool, or if you use HubSpot software, use HubSpot’s Keyword Tool to help find variations you might not have thought of before.
- Write about local and industry news. Stay up to date on what’s happening in your community and in your industry for blog fodder. This will win you big points in the SERPs, as Google Panda’s recent freshness update started rewarding timely content more than it has in the past. Even if nothing has happened that directly relates to your industry or location, look for local spins on industry trends, and comment on how local events could affect your industry.
- Mobile-optimize your site. Local search and mobile search go hand in hand. 40% of Google Maps usage is on mobile devices, and it has a total of 150 million mobile users. Some of the most common ways people will use your site in a mobile environment is looking up reviews, finding directions to your location, and searching for contact information. Make it easy for them by making your site mobile friendly.
How to Optimize for Local Search Off Your Website
- Register your business with Google Places. According to Google, there are nearly 50 million Google Places pages, and just over 4 million of the business listings have been claimed by business owners. This is a huge opportunity for local businesses to appear in the Google Places results for a given search term. But to do so, you have to register your business on Google Places and have a well optimized site.
- Submit to local directories. The more local directories to which you submit your site, the more opportunities to get found and receive inbound links. Use this list of 50 business directories to get started!
- Be a celebrity. The more of a fixture you are in your community (both online and offline), the more people will talk about you. Be a guest blogger, talk to and about (positively, of course!) other people in your industry, and act as a resource provider for the community. If you’re an active participant in community conversations, the buzz around you grows in the form of inbound links, social media growth, and media coverage.
- Publish your content on social media outlets, especially Google+ business pages. Google considers content shared on social media more important now than ever before. And now that Google+ has business pages, social and search are even more closely aligned. Most importantly for local businesses, Google+ business pages are starting to show up in Google Places search results. If you haven’t started your Google+ business page yet, build one now.
- Be on local review sites. 77% of online shoppers use reviews to make a purchasing decision. If your customers are looking for opinions on you, make it easier for them to find out how awesome you are by embracing your presence on online review sites. Claim your listings. Ask customers to post about their great experiences with you. Yes, some negative reviews may slip in there, but wouldn’t you rather be an active participant in achieving a positive online reputation than take a passive role in maintaining a lackluster one?