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Local Is Beautiful

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Reading a thriller written in 1998 and set in Florida, I was amazed to realize that the hero, a tough private eye, searched the paper Yellow Pages for information. 1998? It’s not the stone age! Yet who looks up the paper edition (if it still exists) of anything when you have it all available on your mobile?

Believe it or not, local focus is the flavour of the month. If you’re looking for something right in your neighbourhood, you’ll find all you need thanks to the new focus of the Yahoos, Googles, Bings of this world on locality. It’s only natural that SEO strategy should zero in again on the local element, now that there are the devices and the technology to make such searches efficient.

Google is still ahead of the pack thanks to Google Maps, with Yahoo and Bing hard on their heels. But now enter Foursquare, Yelp, Merchant Circle and Urban Spoon with reviews and opinions on local businesses, their services and products.

Thanks to this competition, you’ll find that local SEO is budget-friendly: you can obtain good ranking and first page positions easily, with a limited SEO outlay. And thanks to new local search features, you don’t run the risk of your pages being swallowed by the national budgets, because they lack one key element you have: a local address.

Google Places listings, for example, have a new emphasis on locality through their Zero-pack option, which puts a premium on optimizing both your Google Places listing and your organic listing: local companies that take care of both will reap interesting rewards in terms of search results.

Here’s a few tips on how to maximize your chances of a high Google Places listing if you run a small business:

  • Be consistent: choose your key words and abide by them
  • Be thorough: make sure you’re well covered in terms of information, photos, videos etc
  • If you have more than one physical business location, place them all under the correct address and create separate listings
  • Phone numbers and website: specify who’s at the end of the line (reception, sales office?) and give the correct URL
  • Categorize correctly: remember that Google business categories explain what a business is rather than what it does
  • Customer reviews: allow and encourage clients to give them, they are a powerful referral source.

Your business website too must take the advantages of locality into account, and optimize for them.

Common SEO wisdom holds that you must determine and include local/regional keywords in your URL, page title and meta description.

Another resource that pays great dividends with local business are blogs. Make a point of finding out if there are regional-based blogs that you could tie in with or take part in. The same for local-based websites, whether institutional or private, which will very likely welcome linking with yours.

In conclusion, most search engines are taking extra care of local businesses. It’s an opportunity for smaller companies to move ahead of the local competition with a limited investment in SEO activity, so make sure you exploit it to the full.

This post is written by Mark Jenkins and he works at CouponAudit as a writer, where thousands of valid and working online coupons for different stores are available including but not limited to orbitz promo code and various other online stores.

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