For any business which operates in a specific locality, rather than, or as well as, globally, it is important to be found by potential locally based customers. The growth of local search has meant that there is now more competition in this space and optimisation has become more crucial.
If you are already using keyword optimisation on your website, then generating location specific keywords is not much of a task. You need to marry the keywords and phrases about your products and services with keywords that define your area or locality.
So, for instance, you may already be using terms such as 'travel agent' or 'recruitment agency' in your Pay Per Click campaigns and in your search engine optimisation. You need to then add those keywords which pinpoint your location. These could include the surburb or borough that your business is based in, the town name, county or state, and even country.
For instance, your local search term could become 'travel agent Kensington London' or 'recruitment agency West Midlands'. These search terms should be optimised on the relevant pages, including page titles, meta tags, alt img tags, internal and external links, and within the visible text.
Local search results are moving up the search engine results pages in 2009, and are often listed above other results based on user preferences and personalisation. This means that if you are based in a particular geographic location, you can leverage your address as part of your search engine optimisation.
Part of the process in actively seeking local search success is to ensure that your website is listed in places such as Google Maps, Yahoo Local, MSN Live, Yellow pages and other local sites.
There are many local directories in which to seek links, such as Chambers of Commerce, town websites, local media such as newspapers and radio often have business listings, and there are always forums discussing the goings-on in particular geographic areas.
It is also worth seeking out local business and community websites, remembering 'complementary not competitive' when looking for potential linking sites, and requesting a reciprocal link. These can include blogs, as quite often local bloggers are supportive and loyal to their local community, and can often have a wide readership.
When optimising for a particular term, it is often better to create a landing page specifically for that term so that when a user clicks on the search results, or a link, they will immediately find themselves on a page dedicated to their search enquiry. It may well lead them to other pages of the website that define the specific product or service they seek, but it is vital to target their interest from the very first page. This way, you will find that visitors explore deeper into your site, rather than leaving immediately when faced with irrelevant content.
A simple strapline on each page that reinforces your geographic location can also work wonders. For example, 'Dingbat Construction Company serving London, Sussex, Surrey and Essex", and it is always worth ensuring your full address and contact details appear on every page, both for the search engines and your website visitors.
As personalised search becomes more endemic, being included in local listings will become more important in the months and years to come.