Implementing local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques has become more and more important, from an Internet marketing perspective because, over time, Google has a built up a significant bias in favor of localized search results.
This makes it important to incorporate local search strategies into content, SEM (Search Engine Marketing), blogs, and any other media that is within the reach of search engines.
Not only can local SEO help to drive more traffic, it can also provide additional points of exposure to drive higher quality traffic that converts better.
This article looks at the ten best tips and tricks that every blogger, small business and Internet marketer should be using.
Local SEO top 10
This list is designed to help you focus on the activities that will bring the biggest returns for your time. It is by no means complete, and I strongly recommend that you keep up-to-date on the latest, evolving strategies as you go.
Like everything else related to capturing organic search traffic, local SEO changes from month to month as Google updates or changes the way they do things in response to changes online, or demands by customers and webmasters.
1. Focus your content
Local SEO doesn't restrict you to targeting a single location. Rather, it's about introducing local relevance. For example, you might spend a week writing content that targets traffic in New York; the following week, London; the week after, California.
Local SEO brings focus; not restrictions!
2. Dominate local search
The most important point to remember about local SEO is that it can help to capture a specific market.
It is far more valuable to be on the first page of search results for localized searches, than on the second page for one popular, but generic search term!
3. Build trust
Creating content in a language that people are familiar with can make a real difference. There's nothing more detrimental to trust than reading content that claims to be one thing, when the language itself suggests another.
Readers are incredibly sensitive to local slang and dialects, so it pays to put in some keyword research to find out the best way to phrase certain key sentences. If you're targeting New Yorkers, write like a New Yorker. If you're targeting people in Australia, talk like people in Australia.
4. Master local keyword research
Certain keywords and phrases are more popular in some regions than others. For example "small business ideas" is a phrase that is very popular in the U.S, whereas "small business opportunities" is very popular in South Africa.
Often, the process of researching which keywords and phrases to use in which regions can help uncover information that improves the quality of your content for that target demographic. You can learn more about keyword research by reading Five expert SEO tips.
5. Use local listings online
There are many resources that specialize in providing local data (like Yell.com), and you should take some time to find out where they are and how to add your info. This is especially helpful for local businesses that rely on foot traffic.
Arguably the single most important online local listing site is Google places for business.
6. Coherent and accurate physical data
For businesses with a physical address, it's very important to ensure that location information is up-to-date and accurate across all listings.
Google builds up an index of citations, which are basically listings of your business information found online. If all of these point to the same address, Google can be confident that it is trustworthy.
If you move offices without updating all these listings, Google may find that half of its citations point to one address and the other half point somewhere else. Clearly at least half of this data is incorrect, so it is not as trustworthy.
Google simply won't rank business listings it doesn't trust.
7. Network locally
One of the best ways to build a strong local presence (that can be used as a platform for strong online growth in general) is to get out and about in your community. Attend local networking events for businesses and bloggers (or whatever is appropriate).
Building local connections leads to mentions in the local chamber of commerce minutes, other local blogs, local news, and many other places. All of which help convince Google to rank your Web real estate higher in local search results.
8. Talk locally
Blog about local events. Review local services. Talk about local people and businesses. There are two main advantages to becoming active in the local community via the Internet:
The first is that by providing exposure for other local businesses, you generate goodwill and, most likely, this will be repaid in backlinks from other local sites. The second is that talking local help build a natural body of local SEO content. Instead of relying on keyword research, local content helps grow your local keywords organically.
9. Use local image SEO
Image SEO has become more and more important as a source of organic search traffic - in fact, images can often be a primary source of traffic.
Incorporating local images into blog or marketing content helps to provide more natural local SEO. Instead of using generic images that have bland ALT or TITLE tags, you can use location specific words.
People searching for "marketing services New York" may well be exposed to an image that has been labelled "My Internet marketing team on site in Manhattan, New York".
10. Use Google analytics to track local traffic patterns
Using Google analytics, it is possible to track where and how often your content is shown on Google. This can provide great insight into chere content is popular and where it needs work.
To access geographical data in Google analytics, go to Audience >> Demographics >> Locations under the Standard Reporting tab. This page provides an interactive map showing both global scale and fine grained information on traffic locations.
For more on how to use Google analytics effectively, read Five awesome tips to extract valuable SEO secrets from Google analytics data.
That's my top ten local SEO tips. What tips and tricks have you used with great success? Share your thoughts and experiences on how to drive local traffic in the comments.