by Collyn Floyd
With yellow pages being out of date before they’re even off the printing press, it’s no surprise that Local Search on the Web has taken the place of dusty old “yellows” as the preferred method for finding local products and services.
Local Search allows you to generate search results by neighborhood, city, state, or zip code. It’s ideal for physicians, dentists, contractors, realtors, restaurants, retailers, or any businesses that serve customers/clients who come from a limited geographic region.
For example, if you’re a Northeast Ohio-based orthodontist, most likely your patients are also going to be from Northeast Ohio. Your primary objective should be gaining search engine rankings in the immediate region because that’s your “bread and butter”. A patient seeking orthodontic help in California isn’t going to do you much good, but one in Akron is a potential new customer.
Even if you need to have a national presence in the search engines, it still may be important for you to have a local presence. We’re a Canton Web Design and SEO firm. While we serve clients across the country, the majority of our clients come from a 50 mile radius. So while we don’t limit our Web Marketing to Local Search techniques, it’s critical that we have a strong presence in the local search results.
How Local Search Works
There are three ways to go about searching for local results. First, you can use a local search engine such as Google Local, Yahoo! Local, or http://www.local.com. Second, you can use an Internet yellow pages site such as yellowpages.com or superpages.com. Third, you can use a regular search engine like Google, but use geo-modifiers, such as “Canton, Ohio Web Design”.
Local Search Benefits
Local Search isn’t just convenient for users; it’s also loaded with benefits for the businesses being listed. Here are a few of the benefits:
* Free or inexpensive local visibility and awareness
* Additional links to the site
* More visibility in the search engines
* More targeted traffic to the website
* More traffic to the brick-and-mortar store
Popular local sites
We’ve listed a few popular sites where you’ll want to make sure you create a listing. Of course, there are many more in addition to these, and your own community will have its own sites you’ll want to consider. These, however, are a good starting place:
* Yahoo! Local
* Google Local/Google Maps
(Note: some of these sites charge a fee for inclusion.)
Local Search Best Practices
Getting effective local search results doesn’t just happen by virtue of having a website. You need to ensure your own site is in tip-top shape by following a few best practices. Be sure to put your address on the Contact page of your website and any other appropriate pages. You’ll also want to explain on your site how your business relates to the community. If you serve on any local committees or board or have any local media mentions, you’ll want to be sure to mention this on your site. Finally, be sure to spell out state names (OH Web Design vs Ohio Web Design).
Social Media and Local Search
With Social Media sites absolutely exploding with new users, it’s no surprise that some Social Media sites are offering Local Search options to help people connect within their local communities:
* Facebook – network with others from your hometown
* Flickr – join one of Flickr’s photo-sharing groups, many of which are location-specific
* Twitter – use the advanced feature to do a geo-search for local members
* LinkedIn – look for and network with professionals in your area
With Local Search making up anywhere from 60-75% of all Internet searches, there’s no question that Local Search is crucial if you have a geo-specific business.
When it comes to Web Marketing, local businesses actually have certain advantages over businesses with a national presence. Instead of having to compete on a national scale, local businesses can focus their web marketing efforts on a more targeted geographic area and even find success a bit easier.
About the Author
Collyn Floyd is a marketing and public relations specialist with The Karcher Group, a web development and search engine marketing firm based in North Canton, OH. She is passionate about helping The Karcher Group’s clients achieve greater online traffic, leads and sales through search engine optimization and marketing.