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25 Ways to Optimize for Local Search

by Justin Palmer - February 24th, 2008

Local search presents unique challenges and opportunities. With the potential for your listing to show in 3 different areas on the results page, (organic listing, local listings, and paid listings), local search presents an exciting potential to dominate your space.

I haven’t done a 25 Ways Series post in a while, so I thought I would share my top 25 Tips for optimizing for local (geographically targeted) search traffic.

Get Listed with the Biggies:

  1. Google Maps: If you were to only use one of these suggestions, this would be the one. Getting listed with Google Maps requires a simple application process followed by a verification by mail or phone. Once you are verified, you will be listed within 4-6 weeks in the “Local Listings” area of the SERPs.
  2. Yahoo Local: Similar to Google Maps, minus the verification, Yahoo allows you to create a free business listing. Fortunately, Yahoo’s approves your listing within days rather than weeks.
  3. Get Listed with “Yellow Page” Type Directories:

  4. Yellow Book: A popular supplier of hard copy phone books, YellowBook.com also offers internet listings.
  5. Yellow Pages:YellowPages.com claims to represent over 100 million local searches per month. They offer a free online listing.
  6. Super Pages: Superpages supplies listings to many well known portal sites, including MSN and About.com. They offer a free, yet very basic listing.
  7. Regional DMOZ Listings: Getting listed still takes forever, but it’s worth the wait if your site gets approved. Navigate to the regional section of Dmoz, and submit your listing in the proper category.
  8. InfoUSA.com: The InfoUSA business directory powers many high traffic local internet directories, so getting your listing here can result in great visibility.
  9. Localeze: Another widely used local business data repository, Localeze claims to supply 45 of the top local search sites with business listings.
  10. TrueLocal: True Local is a business directory that represents about 14 million US and Canadian business. They offer both free and paid listing options.
  11. Yelp: Originally designed for San Fransisco, Yelp now serves most major metropolitan areas with local business listings and ratings. With a focus on customer generated reviews, Yelp is the most Web 2.0 friendly local search property I’ve seen. To add a free listing, navigate to your city, do a search, then click “Add Business”.
  12. CitySearch: CitySearch offers pay per click or pay per call advertising programs, ensuring that you only pay for qualified leads.
  13. BOTW Regional: For around $250, you can get a highly trusted and relevant regional directory listing from Best of the Web (BOTW.org).
  14. Create Optimized Local Classified Listings:

  15. Craigslist: Every business should post an optimized Craigslist ad regularly. Be sure to use your keyword phrases along with your local city and state in the title of the ad. I’ve found that a well optimized Craigslist listing can quickly outrank your own site, so treat it like you would a landing page, with a strong call to action that leads them to your site.
  16. USFreeAds: USFreeAds’s free listing isn’t nearly as good as Craigslist, but it’s still a high trafficked and well-ranked classified site.
  17. DomesticSale: Another nice little free classified site.
  18. Optimize On Site First:

  19. Title Tags: Title tags should contain your target keywords plus your city and state. This is the single most important on page tactic at your disposal.
  20. Address on Every Page: Your business address, phone number, and zip code should be included on every single page.
  21. Mention other Areas You Serve: You should also mention other cities, counties, or states that you serve. While simply bullet listing every city in your area won’t likely won’t yield good results, mentioning them within the context of your content will.
  22. Meta Tags: While localized meta tags aren’t the silver bullet for local SEO, it doesn’t hurt to use them.
  23. Other Tips

  24. Get Reviewed: Many believe local search listings and local directories rank results in part on customer reviews. Ask your customers to write reviews for you on these sites.
  25. Diversify your Anchor Text: Local SEO is a perfect example of the long tail of search. The most effective strategy will employ a wide variety of anchor text diversification. For example, don’t just optimize for “Los Angeles Flower shop”, also create inbound links for variations such as “Flower shop in Los Angeles”, or “Flower Shops in Los Angeles, California.”
  26. Get Links from Important Local Sites: Getting listed on your local chamber of commerce site, Better Business Bureau, or another well trafficked similar site can have huge benefits. To find sites like these, simply do a search for your city name + “business directory” and see what pops up.
  27. Add Online Coupons: Google allows you to create online coupons that can display next to your local listing. If a customer has to choose between several business, and you’re offering the coupon, you have an edge.
  28. Geo-Target your PPC: By geo-targeting your pay per click ads, you can ensure you ads are displayed even if a searcher from doesn’t enter their city into the actual query.
  29. Get Ready for Mobile: Create mobile ad listings with your Google adwords account. Many believe the greatest source of local search growth will come from mobile devices.

Like the tips listed above? Get 3 of your own…


About Palmer Web Marketing

Palmer Web Marketing is a Web Marketing consulting firm, offering local search marketing services. For more information or to ask a question, please contact us.


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7 Responses to “25 Ways to Optimize for Local Search” by Justin Palmer

  1. Bloggers Digest - 2/29/08 - Get Elastic Ecommerce Blog Says:

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  7. Ecommerce Development Guru Says:

    Great post and very useful as search is becoming more local, tips like this are very important to website owners. Thanks!!!


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