Local Search Marketing – Elementary Steps

Local search marketing is really no different than regular search marketing, and having the right resources at hand can make all difference between a successful ‘local’ campaign, and one that just eats up all your profits. Local search marketing has gone main-stream, and is no longer considered only a ‘mom and pop’ online business direction.

After finding out what keywords and phrases you will be marketing in your regular search campaign, going ‘local’ is not far behind. One of the best ways to start is by identifying your local area and/or areas with your chosen keywords and phrases. If you still need keywords or phrases to start with, I recommend using Overture’s Inventory tool.

As a personal example, I wanted to target the phrase ‘Web Specialist’ for my freelance web development business. Going local for me was as simple as targeting the phrase ‘Louisville Web Specialist’ ( I’m listed number one and two in Google, one in MSN, and two in Yahoo as of this writing ), hence Louisville being the city I operate my business in. Since my services are not just limited to my city of residence, I could expand into the cities and counties surrounding me, using a phrase like ‘Lexington Web Specialist’, ‘Kentucky Web Specialist’, or ‘Jefferson County Web Specialist’.

Don’t let just city names, states, or county names be the end of your campaign, you can use zip codes, township names, local government names, neighborhood names, landmarks, and in some occasions, local and regional slang words. If you don’t know all the surrounding areas where you live, try this tool out at 5minutesite.com. Pair the above results with DigitalPoints Tool Suggestion and you have yourself a decent beginning list of keyword combinations to get started with your local search campaign.

Once you have armed yourself with the localities you want to target ( by the way, nothing says you have to limit yourself at localities near you ), start listing your target localities somewhere on your site. I try to focus these localities on at least my contact pages ( so surfers know what local areas I service ), in the footer of all my pages, and in my sitemaps page. I wouldn’t go overboard on this, listing that your business as a local service in over 40 states everywhere on your site may actually make you look like a fraud, so use good judgment on your selection of localities. I would also limit each keyword or phrase I use to one page. Use one page to describe yourself as a “Louisville Web Specialist” and one page as a “Lexington Web Specialist”. This gives you one page per phrase to tinker with. If you don’t service an area near you, don’t advertise that you do.. that is spamming to me and you will be doing a dis-service to anyone that thinks you do.

The next step in the process is to start submitting your local information and site links to some of the local directories and search engines so web surfers can find you. If you do just one thing from reading this article, I would highly suggest making sure you submit your information to Infousa.com, Geosign, Amacai, and Acxiom.. They are the major database listings that many web directories, internet map services, online yellow pages, and local websites use when obtaining local business information in bulk, and being included in this database can distribute your listing information and website link into many online services automatically.

So be sure to visit the web sites of:

Infousa
Geosign
Amacai
Acxiom

Step 2 involves listing your site for your localities in the various online yellow pages. Many of these services have popped up in recent years and they are still one of the most used sources online for finding local information. Some of the most popular are:

Yellowpages.com
Truelocal.com
YP.com
Superpages.com
Switchboard.com
Citysearch.com
Insiderpages.com
Localsearchguide.org

Make sure to include your website link when adding yourself to these online yellow pages above.

I find that including myself on several sites of interest like,

Craigslist.com – ( for business’s selling a service or product )
Judysbook.com
del.icio.us
DMOZ.org
My local library’s site ( many have a local ‘links’ page )
Local, smaller directories online
My local telephone service website ( if possible )
Local or regional hubs ( sites catering to my local area )
My local chamber of commerce
My ISP’s / web hoster’s web site ( if local to me )

helps provide a steady flow of local surfers to my website. Finding the smaller, local directories can be as easy as typing in your local keyword or phrase and finding the directories within the first several results. Even researching on your competitors can lead to more local or regional directories to include yourself in.

Step 3 is where I prepare myself for the ‘big guns’. When I know my website is prepared, and my listings at various yellow pages sites are done, I jump into the dedicated local search offerings of:

Google.com
Yahoo.com
MSN.com
AOL.com
Ask.com
A9.com
Froogle.com – ( if I am selling a product )
Google Base
Shopping.com – ( if I am selling a product )
Buy.com – ( if I am selling a product )
Ebay.com – ( if I am selling a product )

Each of the sites above have a dedicated ‘local’ submission service, but it doesn’t hurt to include your website into the regular submission process as well if you are already not listed. Don’t forget to also include your local listings into the various ‘paid’ inclusion services of the above companies as well if your marketing campaign involves paid listings. Focusing on your paid campaigns like Adwords or Overture with local keywords can yield big results with better ROI.

Google itself has many opportunities for you to include your site link into… one of the most recent services they offer is Google Sitemaps. Though it is not catering to local searches, it will help index all of your web site faster than waiting for them to visit you through links.

You will find that including yourself in most of the above mentioned sites will help your site eventually find its way into the many online map services that several large companies such as Google offer today. Practice link building with local sites as well and have them place a link back to your site so that the text of the link describes the locality and keyword you are focusing on.

Happy local search marketing!


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