Join over 55,891 Subscribers Today! FREE UPDATES!
Get The Only Freelancer crash course you will ever need to read!
Local search is becoming more and more important because when you operate only locally, it is to your advantage to be found by your local clients, not by the global population you can’t serve anyway. With the increased usage of mobile search, a huge portion of which is local, it gets even more important to rank well in your locality. Here are some tips how to achieve this.
Ranking well for local search isn’t very different from ranking well for a particular keyword. The main principle is the same – have keyword-rich content. The simplest you can do to rank well locally is to put your location in all those places that matter – i.e. the keywords, the headings, the meta tags, the anchor text of backlinks, and the page body of your pages.
For instance, if you are a Web designer from New York, and you are interested in local clients only because you are not too excited about onsite visits in California, for example, you can use the key phrase “Web designer New York” everywhere instead of simply “Web designer”.
Well, sometimes it is very artificial (and grammatically incorrect) to use your location in your target places, so if you are really concerned about this, you can modify it to “Web designer in New York”, for example. This will improve your local rankings for sure because Google and the other search engines strip articles and prepositions from the search string anyway. However, in this case, you won’t be ranking that well in all those searches that seek for an exact match (i.e. “Web designer New York”) and if these queries bring you a lot of traffic, you really need to think if it makes sense to sacrifice good traffic for grammar rules.
Even if you don’t put your location in your keyword every time you use it, if your location is present on your pages, this still helps. The simplest approach is to use your location here and there on the page, preferably closer to your keywords because search engines consider the proximity of search terms on the page. You can also add pictures of your city and your office and include your location in the description you put in the ALT attribute of the IMG tag. A map how to get to your office helps a lot, too.
Additionally, don’t forget to put your address, zip code, and phone number (provided that they all are local, of course) on every page. This has two advantages: you will have your location keyword on every page for sure and you will be easier to contact.
On the other hand, you need to make sure that your use of the location as part of your keyword stays within the acceptable boundaries. Therefore, you need to be very careful not to keyword stuff your pages because this can get you banned from search engines rather than boost your rankings with them.
If you operate in only one location, it is easier to optimize your site for it. However, what do you do, if you have branches in more than one location? Do you put them all in the keywords, headings, meta tags, etc.? No, you don’t – this will create a complete mess because there is hardly a person, who will search for a “Web designer New York Los Angeles Paris”, for example. The best you can do is to create separate pages or even better – a separate domain/subdomain for your separate locations and optimize them accordingly. If you are a huge company, separate domains and sites for each country are a must but even a small company with offices in multiple locations will benefit to separate the site into sections based on location.
One of the advanced steps towards optimization for local search is to use Rich Snippets for Local Search. Rich Snippets are semantic tools that use microdata, microformats, and RDFa and they are great for sites with d content. Basically, you label your location using a predefined format and this is how you tell Google you are a local company.
Rich Snippets aren’t suitable for every type of site. If you don’t have structured content that falls into the information types currently supported by Google, i.e., “reviews, people profiles, products, business listings, recipes, and events.”, you will hardly benefit much from this feature. Rich Snippets won’t affect your ranking with search engines and as Google themselves admit, “Google does not guarantee that markup on any given page or site will be used in search results.”, so don’t rely too heavily on them.
It won’t require lots of effort to make your site semantically search friendly because you will be using information that is already existing on your page. E-Business and Web Science Research Group offers a handy tool to create your snippets and you can preview them with the Rich Snippets Testing Tool. The screenshot below shows how a rich snippet might look like in search results.
In addition to the onpage factors and the anchor text of backlinks, you can go local in some other ways. If you manage to get quality backlinks from local authority sites, this is a huge bonus, even if you don’t have all your target keywords in the anchor text.
Local directories and search engines, such as Google Places, Bing Local, or Yahoo Local are also to be considered not only as a way to get listed in them for the purpose of backlinks but also as ways to get direct exposure to your local audience. Besides, almost any place under the Sun has similar sites where you can get listed, so search for what is available in your case and submit your site.
The good old Web directories, especially their local varieties are also to be considered. If there are Yellow Pages for your city and local ads section on Craigslist and other similar classified ad sites, don’t skip them – they also help to get popular locally.
Finally, social media and PPC are some more alternatives to explore. If your region has groups or any other similar sections on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, make sure you join them and be as active as possible. This will have a direct impact on your popularity in the local community. Also, when you register profiles at any site, be sure to enter your location.
Very often you can’t rely on organic search alone and you will need to use advertising, such as PPC. Fortunately, almost any reputable CPC network allows geotargeting, so you can precisely select that your ad is shown only to visitors from the region you are interested in.
Ranking well locally has many benefits and it isn’t very difficult to achieve. The rewards can be lucrative and this is why it makes sense to optimize your site for local search. As you see, this isn’t that difficult to do.
Get The Only Freelancer crash course you will ever need to read!
I am a fulltime freelancer from Sofia, Bulgaria. I have long ago discovered that freelancing is the best option for me because it allows me to grow professionally as a writer, designer, web master, etc. and doesn't confine me to a 9 to 5 schedule. Ditching my fulltime job (and I have changed so many of them) was the wisest decision I have ever made!
If not, then it's time to learn how to:
You can trust 1stWebDesigner to help you become a better web designer!
- Jacob Cass | Just Creative
Just enter your name and email below and click Get Updates!