10 Winning Ways to Optimize Local Search

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Local search is a subcategory of overall search that can give a big boost to your business whether you are a big brand national services advertiser in local markets or a local business looking to expand. Some analysts expect local search revenue to double this year and become even more critical when emerging mobile phone technology allows people to stand on the street corner and ask about a local pizza shop, FedEx or Kinko's.

Currently, many businesses don't know how to maximize local search listings because available information is too confusing or doesn't spell out how to use local search listings for full advantage. Think of it as optimizing local search practices and you will reap the rewards.

For instance, did you know that many top data providers and local search sites allow businesses to list for free? A list is offered on the next page, not only of the well-recognized search engines like Google Maps, Google Local Business, but also the local data providers such as Amacai/Localeze and top internet Yellow Pages site, DexOnline.

Also, pay attention to your creative, your ad messaging and your landing page. Major search engines and some top local search sites have started to use "quality scores" coupled with your keyword/category bid price to determine where and how often your ad will be displayed.

And simple things such as getting a link on another key website like the Chamber of Commerce can extend your reach with little effort.

See below for 10 ways, with examples, on how to improve your business through local search.

1. Get listed for free
The top data providers and local search sites allow businesses to add/update basic local business listings for free. Visit these sites to find your local business listings and verify/update as needed.

Top local search sites
Google Maps   
Yahoo Local   
MSN Live Search   
Ask City   

Top local data providers
Amacai (or Localeze)   

Top internet yellow pages sites

2. Location, location, location
Do you have more than one business location? If one location is in Pinole, Calif. and the other is in Northridge, Calif., make sure you have specific content on your advertisements and website that references both locations. This also applies when submitting and/or updating your business address information on top local search site, as mentioned in the previous tip.

The below example shows two Public Storage business listings on Google Maps.

3. Think locally
Make sure that the content on your website and/or the actual keywords you choose to target use local, geo-designated terms. When consumers search, they're often looking for products/services in a specific geographic area, therefore you'll get a higher response if your ad appears in searches that are specific to your area. For example, if you are an auto dealer in Portland, opt for "automobiles, Portland OR" rather than simply "automobiles."

The below example shows two sponsored listings for Honda cars. The first listing (http://www.honda.com/) was not optimized for local visibility. Typically you would see such a listing appear for a general search such as "Automobiles." However, the second listing (http://www.carsdirect.com/) references the local area in which the ad is targeted to: Portland. Not only does this ad reference "Portland" in the ad title, but it also mentions it in the body of the sponsored link text as well.

Next: Be relevant



Kelly Baader
Kelly Baader February 3, 2010 at 8:49 PM

Thank you for th awesome content. In this tough time, local business owners are searching answers for saving their business. Your content is great blessing to many.
Our hearts is to serve local business owners and professionals with intergrity and results they deserve!

We do offer free consultation to business owners. http://www.providencewebvideo.com

Result-driven Las Vegas branding for local business and professional via Las Vegas video marketing promotion is the core mission of Providence Web Video.

Matthew Hunt
Matthew Hunt November 23, 2009 at 3:04 PM

Those are all great sites to get listed at. I'd put a main focus on making sure you set-up your Google Maps Listing right since it's displaying in the SERPs in a 7-Box.

All those sites will help your G-Map listing. We offer a free course that is pretty in depth on ranking well within G-Maps, if anyone is interested:

Melinda Gipson
Melinda Gipson May 8, 2008 at 1:33 PM

Agree -- Gregg, well done; just remember the old adag that free can also sometimes be worth what you pay for it. Although unnamed in your wrap-up, local online newspapers are getting better at this (though not necessarily with their IYP listings. ;-} In our experience, it often takes serious effort to "clean up" the Acxiom and InfoUSA databases of the world, and these are what underlie many of the "top" local search sites listed here. It also takes a committed support structure to help local merchants in particular keep their online products updated and... speaking to the elephant in the room ... don't people go to the web to find THINGS, not STORES? That argues for better product discovery, but runs counter to recent trends by national retailers to block spiders. Feel free to reference our humble effort in collaboration with Yokel: http://shop.totallylocal.com, or http://shop.wickedlocal.com linked to hundreds of online newspaper community web sites. Obvious benefits for SEO...

Alissa Robinson
Alissa Robinson March 11, 2008 at 5:07 PM

A great way if you don't have the know how, nor the time to do it yourself is to pay a firm to have it done. I used Listed1st.com and I'm on top on Google! Search Google for "maid services in salt lake city” Molly Maids to the rescue!

Hynek Stehno
Hynek Stehno July 27, 2007 at 11:51 AM

Very well summarized what should be considered as best practices in search marketing for local business. Perhaps one additional activity is worth noting – paying attention to the "more info” pages published by online directory providers, which are frequently provided as one of the clickable options for consumers viewing free and paid online listings. These simple to navigate pages are often pre-populated with database driven information not always reflecting current status of the businesses listed. Whether it's Business Profile on SuperPages.com, Details Page on Yahoo! Local or More Info page on YellowPages.com, SMB owners should make sure the information related to their businessis accurate; and use built in tools to update and enhance the data.