Local Web Search SEO: WELCOME TO BOB’S DINER!
Our friend, Bob, owns a small, local diner on Main Street. It’s where the locals get together each morning to talk about everything from politics to sports to downtown gossip. The menu is small, Bob’s marketplace even smaller. He’s not trying to draw in business from Rome or Beijing. He wants more local traffic through his stainless steel doors and he wants to sell more Morning Specials.
Well, fortunately for hash slinger Bob, today’s search engines – Google, Yahoo, Inktomi, Bing, Ask and all of the other big search engines – offer “local” search options. Search engine users aren’t looking for the morning special in Granada. They want to see what Bob’s serving up this morning. Oooo, Texas omelet special only $2.95. That pulls in visitors from a 25-mile radius – the service area of Bob’s Diner on Main Street.
Web Site Localization: Say “Hello” to Your Neighbors
Localizing a web site to a geo-specific area isn’t hard. In fact, it’s pretty easy and search engines know when a user has gone “local.”
Localize Your Website
There are lots of ways to localize your web site to hit the geography of your area of service. If you’re an insurance broker, your service area may cover a few square miles or numerous communities in the region. So, step one is determining exactly who you want to reach with your reach. How far to do you want to extend your offerings or products in terms of straight-up geography?
Take a compass. Place the center on your location and draw a circle to define your service area. When optimizing for local search, you not only define the area you want to hit with your web site, you also want to define the edge of your service area so you don’t get calls from people you don’t sell to. Get it?
What’s That Address Again?
Put your business’ address on every page of your web site, and make sure it’s in a text format. You see a lot of web businesses with the address built into a logo or some other file with graphic extension: bmp, jpg, gif or some other graphics that can’t be spidered by search engine bots.
You or your programmer can add <alt> tags to your site code to “tell” bots what’s in the “graphic” but it’s just as easy to place your address on site as a text file – on every page and in the same place on every page. Upper left is where most of us begin scanning a site’s home or interior landing pages so those are valuable pixels and the ideal place to place your:
- business name (also dba’s if you have any)
- complete street address (located in the Apple Tree Mall)
- postal code (this is one of the main sorters used by search engines during local search – your zip or postal code)
- telephone number (what if they want to call in an order or make a reservation?)
- fax number (simple transmission of hard copy)
- an email or chat module
Place this information on all pages. You never know when you’ll convert a site visitor to a consumer of your goods and services so make it simple to reach out and touch you. After all, you’re just down the street.
Submissions to Local Directories
Local Chamber of Commerces and other business and industry support groups often maintain a site of contact information of local businesses. These on-line directories are ideal for your local business.
Let’s say you’re a certified public account or CPA. Place your contact info in the Michigan Association of CPAs free. BTW, the more FREE advertising (like this) you use, the better. Use all of the web’s latest resources.
From LinkedIn to Facebook to Plurk to technorati, there are more and more social media sites that encourage you to register and sell your services. These sites rely on social marketing. If you market locally, you’ll pull in more visitors who follow you and, ultimately, click on the PPC ads that support the social media site.
Create an attractive introduction to your business including:
- services or product offerings
- daily specials (you can post both the lunch and dinner special with a couple of clicks)
- professional affiliations, i.e. the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants
- referrals and linkage (ask happy members of your client base to offer testimonials to the quality of whatever it is you do or sell)
- directions to your location
- your business telephone and email address
Want to Get a Pizza In Greens Farms, Connecticut?
Want to drive more traffic to your local business?
What if you own a pizza restaurant in Greens Farms, Connecticut. Your diners simply type in “pizza 06436” – the zip code for Greens Farms – and they view a map of the region with push pins showing the exact location of all the pizzerias within that zip code. Easy.
Even easier is that these prospective diners can learn a lot about the pizzerias in the Greens Farms area. See those push pins on the map? Mouse over any one and a screen pops up describing your location, telephone number (in case reservations are required) and even a little blurb about other dishes you serve.
Now look at the left side of the screen. Each push pin is listed with contact information. Easier to find you, or at least call to see if you’re full that evening.
Diners can also print directions from wherever they are (in Virginia) directly to your pizza joint.
All of these features are available through Google Maps and you can place one right on the home page of your localized web site – complete with printable directions. Consider providing your address in text so it can be crawled by search engine spiders. Google bots can read Google descriptions but spiders from other search engines may not be able to give the directions a read so provide a text version to be sure your localized web site shows up when a search engine user enters local search mode.
Add a Picture of the Exterior of Your Business
This does a couple of beneficial things.
First, it shows prospects how great your business looks. Excellent signage. Discrete, sophisticated appearance – whatever look you want to convey.
Second, that picture is helpful when prospects are looking for your location. “Hey, there it is!” Sure, they saw a picture of your store front. They know they’ve arrived.
Provide landmark sites to help visitors find you both on-line and in the real world. “Located in the Piggly-Wiggly shopping center” helps the locals find you because they shop at the Piggly-Wiggly, or at least drive by it while car-pooling the kids.
Use web site text to identify yourself and your business as a local business – one catering to local folks. This increases comfort levels for many kinds of businesses. It’s nice to drive by your certified financial planner (CFP) and see her sign on the front lawn. Same with the local florist, clothing store or physician’s office.
Your text should be focused on local issues, local concerns and provide local solutions to everything from “Where should we have dinner tonight?” to “How do I find a family doctor when we just moved in to town?”
Create an “I’m one of you” approach to sales. “I live in town.” “I provide services to the Quad-Cities Metro Region.” “I understand the needs of you and our community.” Sure you do. You’re a part of the community.
So, up to now, maybe you thought that a web site wasn’t really necessary because your market is so small, or your service area consists of only a couple of zip codes. Localized search is available through all the major search engines and SE users use local search to find a good place for everything from a good pizza to a good attorney.
So, use your entire site to appeal to local prospects and watch your business grow.
Put out your OPEN FOR BUSINESS sign on the world wide web and watch as more and more new buyers buy from you. It’s the best advertising, reaching the most people for the least amount of money.
That adds up to value – local value for your new clients or customers. And when you stop by Bob’s for his breakfast special…
…tell him the world wide web says “Howdy, neighbor.” It does.