by Julie Fiedler on March 29, 2016
There’s that moment—you know the one—when you type a few words in Google and in less than a second the very thing you were thinking of magically appears. It’s a miracle, and also a little creepy—the place where BFF and Big Brother meet. Michael Jackson’s “Somebody’s Watching Me” often springs to mind when a search result hits particularly close to home.
This is especially true for location-based searches.
We all know that our locations can easily be determined. At home and work, our ISP addresses are indexed. On the go, mobile devices can be pinpointed using GPS, Wi-Fi or cell tower locations. Search engines can even remember recent queries, such as tropical locations you might be researching for an upcoming vacation.
Search engine optimization for relevant keywords is crucial to being found online, but local search optimization is just as important.
Near Me Searches
For several years, the popularity of “near me,” “nearby,” and “closest” searches have skyrocketed, especially on mobile devices. (Don’t make the mistake of thinking mobile traffic doesn’t apply to your business! Mobile conversion rates are significantly high.)
5 Tips to Optimize Your Site for Local Search:
- Include your city and state, or other significant location-based identifier, in your website’s metadata. Listing a location in your website’s page titles, h1 (page header) tags, and meta descriptions will strengthen your local search results, without encroaching on your actual messaging.
- Maintain a current business listing on relevant directory sites like Yelp and Google My Business. Your business’s name, address, and phone number are a must, but don’t stop there. Include hours of operation, pricing, and positive reviews*—any of the things you would want to see when you look up a business—to strengthen the appeal of your listing once it does appear.
- * Solicit reviews! If you’ve just had a great interaction with a customer, ask if they’ll share their experience. If they can do it on one of your directory listings, even better! Which company would you rather patronize: one with no stars or one with 5 stars and 12 reviews?
- Include your company’s name, address, and phone number in your website’s footer. Sure, a “Contact Us” page is great, but you’ll want your contact information on every page of your website for local search benefits. The footer is the perfect place so that it doesn’t take up valuable real estate for what users really want: relevant content.
- Cultivate incoming links from local entities. When other sites link to yours, it helps build your website’s authoritativeness, which boosts your SEO. Incoming links matter for local search, too. Think links from your local chamber of commerce, neighborhood business association, or other groups rooted where you are.