Local SEO – Snapshot for increasing search rankings for the brick and mortar.

I have been working in the online space for several years and I have seen strategies and priorities change for search dramatically year over year. A certain algorithm change or additional resource or tool has allowed us to continuously change how we manage organic search rankings. No big shocker here, I know. But, a ton of the strategies that apply to ecommerce sites, do not necessarily apply to the brick and mortar – Local businesses looking to drive traffic through search – the birth of Local SEO.

Currently, I am working with several companies looking to drive their business online through improved rankings on search engines and we have been able to put together a quick outline of some successful tips and strategies that have helped businesses drive leads on a local level.

1.       Before engaging in driving online rankings, it is very important that you understand your customers. Who do you want to target? What are they searching for that would lead them to you?  Whether you have a good grasp on your target demographic, it pays to do some research. Google Adwords can provide you with opportunities data on keywords based on search volume that will help you get a grasp on what your customers are searching for. If you are not using Google Adwords currently, check out the Keyword tool .

2.       Once you have established the search terms you are looking to target and rank well for in organic search, utilize them on your website. Remember, today you cannot just design pages for visitors, but also search engines like GoogleBot and Slurp.  Check out this article from Internet Retailer earlier this year on how ecampus.com scaled this hurdle.

Analyze the title tags and meta data. Create crisp and accurate descriptions. Flesh out your homepage with legit and relevant content, including latent semantic content to tell your visitors who you are and what you do. Make sure to use H1 tags as headings to give your customers (and search engines) a snapshot of your main value propositions by including search terms in the content you established from step 1.

3.       Include your contact information on all of your pages. This will help search engines solidify your geography and let them know that you are a relevant result for that city or town. Google loves to display local results to geo-targeted searchers. This is because they are trying to refer searchers to the best possible result based on a given search query. If a search occurs in Chicago for “Hardware”, Google takes that into consideration in determining how they rank results on a page. If Google knows that Bluewire Hardware is in Chicago, it will tend to boost that result. FYI – I have no intention of opening a hardware store in Chicago. Not yet.

4.       Local directories are a major part of Local SEO. Visit the following websites who we deem major authorities on local reviews and content and set up your business. Claim it if it already exists and begin to use these sites to your benefit. Google looks very highly on these sites and will display them in search results. Why? Because they share reviews on businesses and expose businesses that Google may or may not want to recommend.  They are all free last I checked. It should just take you an afternoon.

  • Topix
  • City Search
  • Merchant Circle
  • Yelp
  • Judy’sBook
  • Google Places
  • Yahoo Local
  • Super Pages
  • Yellow Book
  • Manta

5.       Create a presence on social channels like Facebook. Foursquare, etc. to engage users and leverage mobile users as advocates of you brand. Claim your business on Foursquare and create a special so users will see your Venue when they are in the area and checking into other establishments. Create a conversation and leverage your likes, etc.  to create reviews out on the web.

Clearly there are a ton of opportunities for growing your business online. These are just a few quick pointers on how to jumpstart you’re online marketing efforts for your brick and mortar. Please feel free to drop me a line with any questions as this is really the 50,000 foot view.

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