Why do you need to worry about local search? You may not need to: if you run an internet-only business, and you never set eyes on your customers or associates, you have your hands full optmising for general search. But if you own and operate a shop, a restaurant, or any other business that services people within a community or specific geolocality, then you need to make your presence known. Optimising for local search is as important as your signage and appearance in helping customers find you.
About forty percent of searches conducted have “local intent.” That is, people are looking for your store hours, your restaurant’s menu, your phone number so they can call. What is great about these types of searches is that they very often result in an action – whether it is a stop in the physical business, a call, or an email. Start optimising for local with these easy steps:
- Include your full address, phone number, and email on your contact and about pages. Consider putting this information on every page so customers always have it handy and can make that call.
- On the contact page, provide driving directions from major routes of travel. You can grab a map from Google to give people a visual as well. Be very specific and precise in your directions.
- While you’re at it, embed Google Maps so people can figure out their routes.
- List with Google Places. This will help you appear at the top of the search results page for searches pertaining to your locality. Places is not the only game in town though: list with other local directories such as Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Yelp, City Search, Infogroup, and others.
- Use rich snippets to list your address, phone, or menu sample right in the search results. This will help customers preview what you have to offer – or get the info they need to make a call, etc.
- Make a Geo Sitemap. Here’s a generator to make the process a breeze. No excuse now!
These changes are easy to implement and will get you off to a great start. After you’ve implemented them, look for other ways to optimise for local traffic – encouraging reviews and ratings, adding social sharing buttons…there is no end to what you can do!