Presenters: Greg Hartnett Best of the Web, Mary Bowling, & Matt McGee Small Business SEM

Local search became an emphasis in January 2008 and has increased in frequency since.

Greg: Local Link Development

#1 thing to be concerned with in local search (and search engines in general) is inbound links. The best method for building a link development plan is competitive analysis – viewing strategies of sites who rank higher.

Great first step is directory listing. For example, list your site in niche directories regarding your city and category (e.g. New Orleans, Plumbing). Yahoo Local, Best of the Web, and other local directories are local specific and can really help with geo-targeted rankings.

When listing, provide all info: address, phone number, hours, etc. Most importantly include zip code. Including phone # and address in Title tag or meta Description can help with local rankings. Furthermore, keep all other phone numbers (fax, mobile, etc.) and addresses off the page as it confuses the bots (or use images for other phone #’s). Keep it simple – provide the information within the meta tags and correlate it on-page.

Search engines are getting better at identifying spam content and verifying actual business listings. Therefore, it is important to be consistent and accurate.

Mary: Optimizing for Local Search Success

Challenges for Local Businesses

  • Local search is different: need to rank well in universal search, ten pack, local SE’s, online yellow pages, local social websites (Yelp), and vertical directories – Ton of work to do!
  • Need to be present wherever potential customers are looking for you

On-Page Optimization

  • Build releavance and trust in location + target – marry location with keywords
  • All usual SEO efforts with a geographic slant
  • Use hcard format for location info on pages

Optimizing for Multiple Locations

  • Create a separate page for each location
  • Local info on each page
  • Internal links include location plus keyword
  • Use other location-centric terms: airport code, intersections, highway exits, etc.

*Give business a tagline: make it very clear where you are and what you do (e.g. Austin’s Best Pizza)

Standardization Builds Trust

  • Standardize your information across the web – same business name, address, and phone #
  • Go to sources of business data and standardize there
  • Use a local database directory – profile aggregator ( and

Optimize Your Business Listings

For Search Engines:

  • Use main keyword phrase and complementary terms
  • Grab long-tail including products and services, brands you carry, etc.
  • Choose or create the right categories and submit to as many applicable categories as possible
  • Give your listing attributes – add categories (e.g. town served, types of rentals, etc.)

For customers

  • Enhance your listing to attract attention, answer questions, build trust
  • Use photos, videos, reviews, coupons – leave nothing blank
  • Learn from competitors

Create Citations – web references (pages or site that mention your website)

  • Citations help Google build trust
  • Citations drive targeted traffic (e.g. Better Business Bureau)
  • Citations generally easier to get than links

Impact of Reviews – reviews and local search: perfect match

  • People want review; people use reviews
  • Ratings influence rankings (e.g. Yahoo Local)
  • Highly rated sites can get more exposure
  • Users sort results by ratings
  • Ratings and reviews influence CTR

Solicit reviews from happy customers

  • Create a plan
  • Use surveys and follow up emails
  • Bribe people to submit reviews (discounts, promotions)
  • Send reviews to a variety of web sites

Off-Page Optimization

  • Target incoming links from local sites (Chamber of Commerce)
  • Look for links on sites that rank well for your targeted terms
  • Use your connections/network

Matt: Hyperlocal Blogging

Local blogging is good for local search marketing.

(Hyper) Local Blogs

  • Take advantage of an opportunity to rank for local searches

Content Anyone Can Create to increase traffic & long-tail visibility

  • Combined sale, Flickr, photos and blog post
  • Photo of country singer + blog post + upcoming concert
  • Community pool closing + blog post

Why Local Blogging Works

  • Growing interest in local stuff online
  • Traditional media declining
  • Local websites often lacking
  • Search engines love good blogs


  • Write about local stuff
  • Use photos & video
  • Think ahead
  • Do basic SEO
  • Don’t overdo self-promotion


Quantifying ROI: organic listings difficult to measure – same holds true for local blogging. User count is easiest metric to measure – effort leads to increased exposure and traffic

Diluting pages with too much content: use local info where necessary – keywords most important in title, limit use of local content if appears overcrowded. Use subdomains for local pages (e.g. – provides increased internal linking

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