Optimizing for local search and directory sites
It is very likely that Google, Bing, and Yahoo will dominate local search over the next year or two, and they will push local more than before. Not that the big three are the only game in town -- the other local search and directory sites will continue to drive traffic. But wide acceptance of Google, Bing, and Yahoo as major providers of local search results will continue, as they contain local and third-party integrated reviews, images, directions, and product offering descriptions, contributing to their success. The other local search and directory sites that you need to be listed in include the following with links to where you can sign up:
These local listing options offer basic, free listings, as well as advertising opportunities including more extensive paid services. The more listings you have, the better. It's important to keep the information for each listing consistent. The business title must remain consistent (i.e., don't use Tony's Pizza for Yelp and Tony's Pizza and Beer for Citysearch) as well as all other important information -- consistency is key.
Local search optimization recap
Simply having a listing on the three major search engines is a good start, but it's important to optimize in order to gain visibility in the SERPs. Keep the tips below in mind:
- Create a local listing in all three search engines.
- Be sure to use keywords in your descriptions and detail areas.
- Include keywords in the title of your business, if possible. For example, a pizza parlor called Tony's could implement a title of "Tony's Pizza and Beer."
- Include your company's contact information (address, phone number, etc.) on each page of the website. This needs to be crawlable content that the search engine algorithm can find.
- Whether using basic or paid listings, utilize all fields as fully as possible. Take advantage of all photo space, videos, categories, subcategories, etc.
Note: When optimizing multi-location businesses with more than 10 locations, you might consider using SEO store locator software for affordability and more efficiency. Top Local Search provides such a system with its automated local SEO solution for large, multi-location businesses.
The advantage of local search listings
Multiple studies and a number of statistics show that local search continues to increase in importance. For instance, 43 percent of users research local companies when considering a product purchase (comScore). Kelsey Group found that 74 percent of internet users perform local searches. For every dollar spent online, $5 to $6 are spent offline that were influenced by prior online research (MIT Technology Review). Sixty-one percent of local searches result in a purchase (comScore). When it comes to comparison shopping, 97 percent of internet searchers go online to compare prices, and 51 percent of that group define their shopping style as "shop online, purchase offline" (NPD Group). Based on this research sampling, it remains clear local search will continue to grow.
Local search growth is also indicated by the increased usage of mobile phones, as well as by the statistics showing the number of searches with local intent. It is predicted that, in two years, 70 to 80 percent of users will see local results on the SERPs. If that is true, the businesses that don't bother to list themselves in local search engines will be left behind. Local search optimization should be treated like traditional SEO and must be a necessary part of any internet marketing campaign.
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