For a long time now, SEO has been a “wide net” strategy of marketing. With so many different local markets, local SEO proved to be difficult and, more often than not, just not worth the time. However, a little more than a week ago Google unveiled the new and improved Google Places, combining organic and local search into a whole new animal and making local SEO an exciting new prospect.
Many consider local SEO to be the future of internet marketing, and it is easy to understand why. Traffic and results will rarely be more organic or specifically targeted than when you attract local traffic, people who will be able to visit your brick-and-mortar store. Google’s new Google Places will help your business place page to reach out to those local users. Service areas are now included in Google Places, allowing you to show users where they can find you if you travel or have multiple locations.
Also, tags can now be applied to listings to make them more noticeable on Google and Google Maps. This could be a valuable tool in taking customers from Google Maps to your business’ Place Page, so make sure your tags are carefully chosen and up to date. The tagging feature will cost your business $25 a month, but should be a welcome addition and will be available in a number of major cities across the U.S. soon.
To make things even easier, Google will be providing a dashboard page for your business that will include important search data. With this data, you will be able to determine which keywords users were searching when they found your business, page visit data, and even where your customers are coming from geographically. This data could really help in targeting the proper local areas and demographics for your business.
Along with proper tags and keywords, reviews will also be an integral part of boosting local SEO rankings. Review sites like Yelp and Citysearch will often show up for users, so maintaining good rankings on all of those online user review sites will be even more important for local SEO with Google Places. It will be important to make sure your business is listed in as many of these online business directories as possible to maximize their impact. Be sure to update your images as well: Google will even be offering free photo shoots to businesses in some cities. Along the same lines, citations will be an important local SEO factor, as places that have more “buzz” will likely rank higher.
Mobile users should be a big piece of the local search market, so it will also be important to target those users and give them incentives to visit your business. With Google Places, you will be able to offer local users that find you special coupons or advertise sales, helping you to drive traffic.
In short, the new Google Places could be a terrific marketing tool. Just stay focused on what’s important locally—service areas, user reviews, etc.—and you should start seeing increased traffic in no time.
Sarah Myran writes for Dave Conklin, a captivating internet marketing speaker and consultant. Conklin develops internet marketing strategies that are tailored to your business model.