You built the store and the Web site, now show the people the way
We've all been talking about local search for ages now, and you may be thinking that this is just another article recycling the same ideas once again, but I truly feel it's important to remind all business owners with brick and mortar stores, who are also engaging with online shoppers, how vitally important it is to have your local search ducks in a row. All it takes is a few minutes of searching to see how quickly the major search engines are expanding the index of search terms that get local preference. Additionally, I've read on Google's blog that they are showing maps in search results once in every 13 queries. So how does local SEO work? That question has a very long answer, but we can cover some fundamentals now that you can easily execute right away.
Consistency is the very first thing to look at. This is pretty straightforward. Use your real name, address and phone number. Resist the urge to get all SEOy with this. Don't try and jam all your keywords into your name. This isn't the place for that. Be simple, consistent and accurate.
Next, you need to be aware that simply entering your company's information into Google's Business Center is only the beginning. There are several providers of business information, and they share data back and forth as well as providing that data to Google, Yahoo and Bing. Be sure you are listed consistently in the following indexes: Acxiom (primary source); InfoUSA (primary source); Localeze (primary source); Yahoo Local; superpages.com; yellowpages.com; and Universal Business Listing.
So, now you are listed everywhere you need to be and your data is accurate and consistent. Step one is complete and you're ready to move on to pursuing those valuable listings in Google's local three- or 10-pack search results that show above the organic search results for your products and services. There's a handful of tactics you need to employ.
Employ some traditional SEO. Use localized keyword phrases on your Web site in the title tags and body content. The primary pages to focus on here are your "About Us" and "Contact" pages. On your contact page be sure to use the hard microformat to clearly highlight your address and phone number.
Of course you can't talk about any kind of SEO without talking about links. Links in local SEO are necessary, but there are some different targets. To start with, you can build trust for your Web site by linking to your "Maps" listing and then getting links from places like your local Chamber of Commerce and other trusted local sites. Don't forget to get the location terms as anchor text where you can.
As a parting note about local search, please keep in mind that you don't even need a Web site anymore. Local search - and particularly local mobile search - is superb at providing simply the phone numbers of the business related to what you are searching for. This highlights the importance of accurate and consistent data. If you can't get a user to your Web site - or you don't even have a Web site - you can still get a ranking and provide a point of contact.