5 Ways to Improve Local Search Rankings

local search optimizationLocal search optimization puts a business on the map … literally.  As a small business that caters to a local community a #1 ranking on the search engines is not only very difficult man times it is almost pointless unless locals are finding you.  As searches  increase and the search engines place more emphasis on the local search, the opportunity and ease of rankings increases. Google‘s local search and personalized have leveled out the playing field per se.   As a small local business the competition online is centralized to your area but yet in certain industries is steep.  Achieving a higher ranking locally has intensified as more companies are online and optimizing locally. What sets a business apart is many times so minor changes and tweeks that are outlined below:

5 Ways to Improve Local Search Rankings

1. Search Engine Local Business Centers.  These are great tools to optimize your site with specific location keywords.  For example with Google’s Local Business Center, you create your business profile with the name, address, phone, hours, etc but the main value here is the categories.  The first category they somewhat designate but the next 4, you can type in a custom category.  Ex: carpet & upholstery cleaner – this is a common industry in each city.  To gain a higher ranking, create custom categories that are localized: X City/township carpet cleaner, X City/Township grout cleaner, X City Upholestry cleaner, X City/Township carpet stain remover.  Identify terms that are searched by consumers and incorporate them into your categories.  Be sure to include a listing on Yahoo Local Business Center as well as Bing Local Listing Center (except those on Chrome, it does not support this)

2.  On  page.  Search engines love new content so any event that you wish to promote locally or a cause, etc. For static information, it is advantageous to have your address on each page (generally footer is best but for some sites this is not attainable so the solution is to place at the very bottom of the page), the location contained within the content naturally and not repeated over and over.  Good rule: read  the content out loud.  If you hear the city name too many times or hesitate before saying it again, then it is repeated too many times.

3. Socialize.  Be aware of what is being said about you online, especially if your target market is there.  If you see that people are “checking-in” from their Foursquare, monitor local trends in your city, etc.  These do not have that big of an impact on local search at first thought however if it is a topic that is trending people will search for it on Google to see what the fuss is all about.  Ease of finding =ease of click.

4. Local Directories.  This has been covered before and at times cannot be stressed enough.  A FREE listing in the local directory with the proper keywords in the business description will increase your ranking.  Be smart here as too many listings pushes your domain page down in rankings.  Do your homework and see which competitors are there, what categories they have selected and see where you can differentiate based upon search terms.  Categories are great so long as they contain the terms people are using to find you/industry.

5. Video.  Video optimization is a bit more involved but the uncrowded optimization that the search engines love to put first! Creating the video and prominently featuring it on your site is the first two steps.  The last step is to optimize for search engines and submit it.  As best explained by Steve Strauss (read full article):

“First, you must optimize the video for search engines. That means key words and phrases must be used in the file name, in the captions, etc. Second, once posted on your site, you must then submit the video itself using XML tools to Google and the other search engines.

I know that last part may sound a little intimidating, but it need not be. There are some great online services that will submit the videos for you. For example, one I like a lot is Fliqz.com. Fliqz will, easily and affordably, index your pages and video, and properly submit them to the various search engines.”

These 5 steps are pretty simple (except for #5 as this is requires first a video and then the optimization of same) but do require some research into search terms.  An industry standard term may not be the consumer term.  Knowing and optimizing for search terms is what will help improve your local rankings.

What have you done locally to improve your rankings?

photo credit: DannySullivan

  • Hi Suzanne,

    This is a great post! One thing I noticed, your link to the Yahoo! business center is pointing to the Google Local Business Center.

  • Michael

    Thank you so much for pointing that out. It has been fixed. Wow, that is a big blunder.

    Appreciate you reading and letting me know – thanks!

  • You're welcome!

  • Nicely done. Good work! Keep up the great content.

    SW
    http://www.phigroup.ca

  • robate159

    Small business
    Small Business owners are largely forgotten. Thats why I only focus on them. I have experience several members of my family file bankruptcy due to small business failures. I also I suffered through 2 destroyed businesses due to failure however, in my failings I have learned some of the secrets to success. (Who can say they know it all?)
    What I like about small business owners is that they are not afraid to take huge risks and lay it all on the line. But, I agree they do need a lot of help with their marketing. I think having them go the social media and email route is not only the least expensive but its also the most effective. Thanks for the stats!

    http://www.onlineuniversalwork.com

  • Small business owners I would not say are forgotten as there is a bunch of chatter about them but seem to be overlooked when it comes to the advertising and marketing. Some agencies are built for big businesses as the revenue stream is constant and big. I feel that small businesses are a viable part of a community and should be afforded the same resources in an agency as a big company. The one on one is where Kherize5 thrives as we get to really know the business and how it is run. That is a part of marketing that we find helps us as an agency and with our clients grow. None of us know it all as if we did we would be sitting on our own island somewhere enjoying the exceptional life.

    Thanks so much for reading and sharing your experiences. Life is about success and failure and in failure how you learn and grow from it leads to the success of the future.

  • Jan Kasal

    Suzanne,
    What would you recommend to professionals doing business out of their homes? Personally, I don't want to have search engines and local directories pointing to my house. What do you think?

  • Jan

    I say go and find a virtual office where you can have an address with them. Some are expensive where some are extremely reasonable (like $35 a month). Generally your mail goes there unless you tell the person sending where to send it of course. This is a work from home dream as you have an “office” that affords you the opportunity to create a profile on the local search – search engines while keeping your privacy.

    Hope this helps.

    Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment,

  • Jan Kasal

    Suzanne,
    Thank you for your suggestion. I was aware of virtual offices offering a receptionist. They are more expensive. I'll research the option having just my mail forwarded. It is not just a privacy issue, but a zoning issue, too. I live in a residential zone and the village officials are monitoring the “business.” I guess they would want more money.
    Jan

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  • All 5 steps are sound advice. I would add that if you have a WP blog to inspect your stats and see what long tail keywords are being used to find your site (currently) and use those first, as this will compliment your main site or blog and improve your ranking.

    This worked well for me as I ventured into the Local Search Marketing especially since so many SMB's are in dire need of this free organic traffic.

  • James

    Absolutely! Find what is working and might need a bit of a bump in rankings and adjust as needed. Looking at what people are using to find you gives great insight into what you are going to rank for. Many times we believe we have an idea of what people are looking for but the stats paint a different picture.

    Great comment and thanks for reading. Readers will find that very useful.

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  • Anonymous
  • Chatmeter

    This article offers good advice like adding fresh content for the search engines to find and being aware what is being said socially about your or your brand. These are good tips for the small business owner.