Local search can be very important. We often talk about online marketing as a way of reaching global markets, but for many businesses effective local optimisation can be the best way to find new sources of traffic and income. There have been recent changes to the appearance of Google Places search results, and this post looks at a few of the key parts of local search optimisation.
To be included in Google Places there should be a contact page onsite. This should include full contact names, addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, email addresses etc. It is also advisable to add this information to site footers.
Hcard Microformatting the contact information on each page of your website will encourage the search engines to pull that information forward, this can also be done for specific product information. There’s a great guide to using the Hcard microformats on Search Engine Land.
Google Business Directory
The next step is to sign-up to Google’s Business Directory. You will need a Google or Gmail account to do this, and the address you provide will be verified via a postcard, text message or phonecall. Assign your business an appropriate listings category, and try to include locations, products and services in the listings. Provide full contact details, proper phone numbers etc.
Adding a photo, coupons & video to your company profile in Google Maps may not increase your ranking results, but it can help with the click through rate. Customer reviews given to your business in Google Maps are also believed to be a ranking factor.
If you want to know more about optimising Google Local Business Listings, Kelvin made this screencast:
Setting up Google Local Business Listings
Keyword Placement & Links
Relevant location keywords in copy, headers, page titles and link text will are used as signals of local relevance. For this reason you might consider building pages for key locations. Inbound links with keyword-rich anchor text links are important, especially those which are also from relevant local domains and websites.
Citations are thought to be an important factor in ranking local search results. A citation tends to include company name, URL, address and phone number, and may be published without any hyperlinks. David Mihm published this incredibly comprehensive post about citations on his blog.