Building Your Site For Local Search Success

There’s a new phenomenon in Google search results that is worthy of a quick update. If Google has properly classified the location of your business, you may find yourself at a higher spot in the organic search results when you do your searches from in town. When you’re searching from a few hundred miles away, you may see your ranking at the same spot it was before Google did its update about a month ago. There is even a brief mention of this update in a recent Business Week article.

Overall, the response to the new positioning is good, assuming that you get a fair chunk of business from your local market. If your business is based on high positions for nationwide or international searches, you may have more of a problem. All of a sudden, rankings are different for each city, and this can be a double whammy for people who have already been marginalized by local map results that have supplanted the visual marketplace on the search results. Over the past few weeks, webmasters have been improving their local SEO practices to try and take advantage of this new algorithmic tweak.

If Google hasn’t associated your site with its local address, then you could be missing out on your share of local queries.

  • Add your site to the Google Local Business Center. Add all your local branches and describe your services.
  • Put your address at the bottom of the homepage in addition to the Contact and About pages.
  • Make sure you’re present in local business directories and online yellow page directories. Reviews in these directories are also considered by Google Local. (Web.com Search Agency has a local business submission offering as part of its SEO packages.)
  • If your store doesn’t have a permanent address, consider getting one.

One of the keys to being found in localized search results involves actually being in the area. Search engines are getting smarter all the time, and are getting better at matching up corporate name registrations, business licenses, and phone book entries with actual locations. To a certain extent, you can still fool local directories by using post office boxes and other tricks in order to get a spot on Google Maps as well as Bing and Yahoo local directories. Right now, it would appear that your website can only be associated with one location, so it is in your best interest to put your legal home office address on the site. If you want to get found for franchise locations, you may want to create separate websites for each location, then associate the site for each one with the address using Google Local Business Center and other directories. People still put a great deal of trust in businesses that have local offices, so you may find that the site traffic you get from nearby customers has a higher conversion rate.

As search engine algorithms mature, the type of results delivered to users will be more and more unique depending on the query. As a result, it is in every webmaster’s best interest to make sure that their sites have targeted relevant information that is easy for search engines to classify. Many small businesses now have an advantage over sites that got great nationwide traffic, but only in their target areas. However, if Google doesn’t know the address associated with the site, you aren’t going to get the extra lift that local sites are getting in their own hometowns. Therefore, the time that it takes to get your site in line with local algorithm requirements can pay off quickly by giving you a larger share of customers in your own back yard.

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