Here are some critical, but simple strategies to use when optimizing your or your client’s site in local search results. I (surprisingly) don’t see this discussed very often, which is why I feel it would make a great tip for everyone here at Daily SEO Tip.
While there are great tips for listing your address in Google Places, including what not to do, this focuses more on the organic results side of things.
An important factor in local search is obtaining citations throughout the web. Citations are basically references to your business and address from reputable sources, such as the Yellow Pages. Keep in mind that the point behind this is not to obtain links from these sources (though that can be helpful), but to have them list your address and business name.
Not only do search engines crawl these sites, but many of these sites funnel information to search engines directly, such as Google or Yahoo. Search engines will then review this data and its accuracy when determining your sites relevancy for a local search query. The more often a search engine finds consistent information about your address, the more accurate and relevant it is determined to be.
To accomplish this, you want to have your business listed in as many reputable local business directories as possible. Remember to always keep your address the same when submitting your information; for example, don’t use “street” in one address and “boulevard” in another. Here is a good resource of business directories for local search.
In addition to listing your address on authoritative local directories, you will also need to have your address listed on your site. A good strategy is to have your address listed on every page of your site. The footer or blog sidebars are good places for this, as the information tends to stay the same as users browse your site, and this way you won’t get dinged for anything like keyword stuffing.
Another good strategy is to list the address twice on your site, listing an abbreviated state one time, and the full state name another time. This way search engines won’t confuse the abbreviation with any other common abbreviations, such as CA (California or Canada) OK (Oklahoma or Okay) or MD (Maryland or Doctor)
You should optimize the address you place on your website by letting search engines know that this is an address and not just some random words and letters. This can be accomplished through the use of microformats, which is code you can place within the address. Microformats are the type of code you see within Google’s Rich Snippets feature. By including this code around your address, you’re essentially telling search engines “Hey, this is an address and it’s important!”
Here is some useful information about rich snippets and the microformat code used. For specific information about microformat use with addresses, look within the “Business and Organizations” section. To use this within your address, you would place the code around the information about your business that you have listed on your site.
Here is an example of how the code would be used. You can copy this directly if you wish, and replace the standard information with your specific information.
<span class=”fn org”>Your Business Name Here</span>
<span class=”street-address”>Your Street Address</span>,
<span class=”locality”>City</span>, <span class=”region”>ST</span>.
If you want to get more specific, you can include coordinates:
<span class=”value-title” title=”37.774929″></span>
<span class=”value-title” title=”-122.419416″></span>
Phone: <span class=”tel”>555-555-5555</span>
You can also help your customers (and yourself!) by providing driving directions from nearby cities. With driving directions you are not only providing useful information about how people can find you – but you will also be using local words, locations and phrases that people may query when they are looking for your type of business.
Once you have your address on your site, and your listings have been approved and posted within local search directories, ask your previous customers to give you a review. Remember Google loves freshly updated content. It would also help you out if your customers were to include some of your keywords within their review, you might want to suggest some keywords they can use when describing your services.
Following these steps, along with a local keyword link building strategy, should provide you with a great foundation for local search optimization. However, do not expect this method to deliver you results overnight. While it is simple and pretty quick to put in place, it does rely on how often Google crawls and indexes the information on these sites, as well as how often these sites submit their data to Google. Good luck and happy SEO’ing!
Rebekah May is the founder of Whole SEO, a website and blog focusing on search engine optimization and internet marketing strategies. She is an experienced local search strategist concentrating primarily on Bay Area SEO for small to medium sized businesses.