Earlier we wrote about local optimization in the context of country-specific sites and duplicate content filters. This time we expand on this topic and will tell you about the web promotion of a local business as a whole.
Before you start, make sure your web site is search-engine-friendly: created with a SE-friendly technology (like HTML), having robots.txt and a Sitemap in the root site directory. Next, you can get down to optimization for local search. Here are the most important steps to take.
1) Optimize your site for the targeted keywords
After you defined the right keywords for your business, include them together with the city name into your pages’ titles and Meta keywords and description tags. It would be perfect if the title that you use to name your business should include not only your company name, but also your most targeted keyword, for instance ‘Greenstone Villa – Beach Holidays Australia’.
The site pages should give all the information people may use for search in your location – area codes, street name, city, and country names. Add as much local information as you can to your site – this raises your chances of getting listed high in Google local search results.
2) Submit Your Website to Google Places
(ex-Google Local Business Center)
It’s one of the best ways to get to Google’s first results page. :) Together with the snapshot of the map with the exact location of your business, people will find out all the necessary details like contact phone number and email, business hours; they will get discount coupons (at your convenience), view the photographs and obtain other information you’ve found appropriate to include.
Besides, the local business listings are also present in mobile search results, which should urge the people passing by to visit a local office or shop.
Some tips from Google:
More advice from Google can be found at http://www.google.com/support/places/bin/answer.py?hl=en-uk&answer=148047
3) Get local inbound links
Take care to get inbound links from local TLDs (top level domains), especially links containing your targeted keywords and city in their anchor text.
Where should you look for such links? Consider the following opportunities:
Only some potential resources for local promotion in the USA are listed above. We bet you will find more directories that are relevant to your business and its location and will give you more targeted local traffic (for instance, in Yahoo! Directory, Dmoz, or Google Directory, or by organic search).
4) Get the most out of customer reviews and Web references
Other people’s experience in social mentions is very important for someone who considers contacting you. Ask your customers to write a review about your business on their preferred shop site, forum or portal.
If someone wrote a negative review, don’t leave it as is. Contact them to find out why they didn’t like your service – maybe you can change their opinion. Respect has always been a winning tactic.
Here are some helping articles on where to get references for Europe and the US.
5) Local domain and local hosting
These are also very important factors. Register a domain name in your regional DNS zone: *.co.uk for UK, *.it for Italy, or even a subdomain of your targeted place – such as *.sardegna.it or *.trentino.it. Additionally, choose a hosting provider in the same region, this way search engines will consider your site as being more relevant to that region.
6) Make use of Google Webmaster Tools
If your domain is in .com, .org or any other global TLD zone, you have a possibility to choose the target audience from within your Google account by means of Webmaster Tools.
7) Involve paid search advertising
It always helps, if you have funds. Being the most efficient and inexpensive among the paid advertising opportunities, PPC campaigns can attract not just people from your city, but those who are most interested in your product or service.
8) Promote business in local social media
Research local groups in popular social networks (check global networks as well as the most popular local networks). Promotion via these groups may bring you a lot of visitors interested in your services. For more information, read the article on how to choose the best social media channel we issued earlier.
After all of the above is done, it would be great to check how you rank in the local search engines. And here the Web CEO Ranking tool can be of help – you can either check your positions on your local search engines or search for your site in the Google Local results.
SEO Companies’ Visibility Rate
Are SEO companies as good as they claim to be on their sites? Will they return the efficiency they promise? Are their skills qualified? The only way to find it out is to check how they optimize and promote their own sites.
Here we share Top 10 SEO Companies according to their search visibility rate for April 2010.
Web CEO analysts use objective evidence to rate SEO firms according to their search engine visibility. SEO companies’ visibility rate is calculated using a special formula that considers the positions of SEO companies’ sites in search engines results pages for the keywords their potential clients use, popularity of these keywords and number of competitors.
Here you can see how Top 10 SEO companies’ visibility rate has changed from February till April 2010.
Top 10 SEO Companies
We regularly receive emails from SEO MixTour readers and Web CEO users asking for advice on various SEO and SEM issues ranging from minor tips and tricks to some major issues such as the reasons for a search penalty. These are mainly backbone SEO questions which we call Vital Basics of SEO. If you are a novice search engine optimizer, please first read the previous issues entitled Search Engines’ Index Questions and Keyword Optimization Questions, and go on reading today’s issue.
Should I have my main keyword in the URL?
Yes. The best thing is a domain name that includes your main keyword. However, even subdomains, directory and page file names matter. It is always better to have your main keyword in the URL, unless you have a long-keyword-phrase-that-will-look-spammy.com. The keyword in the URL will not only tell search engines that your keyword relates to the topic you are concentrating on, but will help you get keyword-rich link texts (some people still link using the domain name as the link text). Besides the highlighted keyword in the URL on the SERPs, may positively influence the click through rate.
Are Meta tags still important?
Not that important. Last September Google announced that they do not use the Meta Keywords tag in web ranking. But the Meta Description tag is often used as the text for Google search results snippets, so why not making it descriptive and attractive? One more Meta tag that is used by search engines is a Robots Meta tag; you may read more about it in the SEO MixTour issue devoted to search engines’ crawlers.
Is it OK to use both image alt text and image title?
Yes, especially if you are using them to help your visitors and not to stuff keywords. Image Alt text is used to provide explicit information on an image for those who are unable to see it; the Image Alt text should describe what the image is about. Image titles provide additional information; it is a title, so it should be short and catchy. Of course, you would like to use your keywords in both of them.
Are automatic site submissions to search engines harmful?
Rather ‘No’ than ‘Yes’. The major search engines won’t ban your site because of them, but do not expect automatic submissions to improve your search engine rankings. It is much better to submit your website’s Sitemap to the major search engines.
How soon will my rankings improve after I submit to search engines?
There is no direct dependence between your site’s submission to search engines and good rankings. Getting your site indexed just means that search engines know about your site and will return next time to crawl it and update their listing of your site. To rank well, you should optimize your pages. This involves content optimization for the targeted keywords, improvement of a site’s link popularity (getting inbound links to your site), ensuring site quality (absence of broken links and other serious HTML errors preventing SE robots from crawling and indexing, search engine- and visitor-friendly design), promotion in social media, and advertising.
How do search engines know that you are the author of the unique content?
This question is usually asked when you think about a duplicate content filter that the major search engines apply. Let’s see what happens when a search engine finds several pages with identical content. Its algorithms must select the page that offers the best information required and offer it to a searcher. How does it decide which page is better? Here the authority of the site and the number of backlinks pointing to the page come into play. So your task is not to just insist that you are the first to publish an article, but to prove to search engines that your page is relevant and authoritative enough to be listed in SERPs higher than others who only copied it.
You may read more about the country-specific sites and duplicate content filters and about the usage of borrowed content in the previous SEO MixTour issues.
Web CEO Metrics
Here we are sharing the generalized numbers from our HitLens Web Analytics service. It covers 300,000+ websites from all over the world.
In April 2010 Google referred 82 % of all visitors compared to the year 2009 when this number was 79%. Yahoo’s numbers constantly decrease, and Bing’s audience has slightly diminished.
Global Search Engines (%)
You can see how visitors are being referred to websites.
While search engines are still the main visitor referrer, the share of linking sites increased from 19% to 20%. The bookmarking level dropped down, and the number of search marketers who use paid advertising increases step by step.
Visitor Referrers (%)