8 Local Search Marketing DIY Tips to Use Now for Your Business

Jan 26, 2012 by

This entry was written by , one of the OxonDigital members. The author's views below are entirely their own and may not reflect the views of OxonDigital.
8 Local Search Marketing DIY Tips to Use Now for Your Business

I would be making initial assumptions that readers of this post own or work for businesses in Oxfordshire but if this is not this case, this post also applies to any business with a local customer-base looking to reach out to potential customers searching for their products or services on Google from desktop or laptop computers, tablets and mobiles. As research shows that 43% of local searchers contact or visit a business after searching, Local Search Engine Optimisation (or Local SEO) of your website is essential to spreading your business’ reach in your local area. Unlike mainstream organic SEO, local SEO does not usually require a huge cash outlay and can be undertaken by anyone with limited technical expertise. Local SEO is more a time intensive exercise (rather than cost) and when executed effectively has a potentially high return on investment.

So what should be your first step in a local SEO campaign?

#1 Google Places

Jump over to Google Places to get your business listed. It is a fairly straight forward process; all you would need is a local phone number (as there is a phone verification process after submission to prevent hoax submissions) and a local address. All other information required are pretty straight forward like your website, email address, description of your business in 200 characters, and up to 5 categories that best describe your business. Optional information required for your listing are your business’ opening times, payment methods your business accepts, photos of your business (which I recommend) and videos of your business (which I highly recommend). And finally you can add ‘additional details’ like if you have parking, brands you carry, and more. The rule of thumb is that the more info you add to your listing, the richer the information on your listing and the more likely you turn up on local search results. The best way to approach your Google places listing is to understand how people actually search for your product or services by using the Google Keyword Tool to research key-phrases used on Google in the past month – include the most popular search terms related to your business on your Google Places listing.

#2 Bing & Yahoo Local Listings

Listing on Bing for Business Search is a little more complicated for UK businesses as it uses a third party directory called 118information.co.uk to power its listing – the good news is that it is free for businesses to list on 118information.co.uk. They do ask for similar information Google Places requires and confirm your listings by a phone call to your business.

Listing on Yahoo Local also requires that your submit your business listing to a another free third party directory called City-Visitor, which currently powers its listings.

#3 Get Links and More Local Listings

Don’t just stop on Google Places – expand your listings to other Local business directories. For Oxfordshire businesses, list on the following 12 free Local business Directories – remember it costs nothing but your time!:

  1. Touch Oxford
  2. Free Index (Oxford)
  3. City Local Oxford
  4. The Best of Oxford
  5. iOxfordshire
  6. Daily Info (You may need to pay but local businesses like restaurants, pubs and bars are listed for free)
  7. Yelp Oxford
  8. Oxford Chamber of Commerce
  9. Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)
  10. Yell.com (there is a free listing option)
  11. Thomson Local
  12. GetListed.org

There is a double benefit for listing in the above directories – firstly Google Places typically references information from a handful of local business directories in order to update it’s local listings and more importantly, these sites link back to your site and send signals to Google that confirm your business as a local one. The links also help with some basic SEO link building!

#4 Next Are Reviews

I am sure you would agree with me that business listings with more rave reviews attract the more attention and ultimately the most business! Which of the above businesses are you likely to give a ring? The business with the best and most reviews right…? My advice would be to incentivise your happy clients to give your business a review on any of the following sites:

You may even want to consider setting up  a “Review Centre” computer (especially for businesses in the hospitality industry) and encourage your customers to leave reviews about your business upon completing a transaction (or checking out of your hotel)! As almost all your customers would have either a Gmail, Yahoo Mail or Hotmail/MSN account, why not give them options to write a review on any of the local search engines: Google Places, Yahoo Local or Bing Local.

#5 Add Incentives

Add Vouchers to your Google Places account using the ‘Offers’ tab – add printable vouchers codes exclusive to your Google Places listing in order to track how effective it is at reaching out to your customers. You even have the option to target mobiles and allow mobile users show your Google Places Offer from their mobiles at your business!

#6 Use Paid Search with Local Extensions

If you advertise on Google AdWords, ensure that you add the AdWords Location extension. AdWords gives you the option to link your AdWords account to your Google Places listing page with the Location Extension. All your text ads on Google’s sponsored results would include an icon and link to your Google Places page. This can have a significant impact on the click through rates of your text ads. Also activate the ‘Call’ extension to help mobile browsers ring your business as soon as they come across your text ads on Google.

#7 Clean Up Your Website

Give your website a very local feel – use a local phone number, rather than a geographic one. Display your address in the footer area across your entire site and encourage reviews by also displaying reviews and recommendations across your website. Make is extremely EASY for vistors of your site to contact you i.e. prominently display your phone number, share your email address and include a contact form option. You can even have a website Live Chat system!

#8 Participate Locally

Participate and advertise on local forums and on local classified sites such a Gumtree and DailyInfo. Join local business networks and ensure that their sites link back to your website. Support local causes, charities and extend all your local affiliations and relationships into online links back to your site from the websites of the organisations and businesses you are connected with in the real world. The long and short of getting prominent local rankings on Google balls down to citations on local websites, blogs and directories that ultimately send signals to Google and affirm your business’ local presence.

I really hope these Local Search Optimisation tips come in handy for your business.
If you do use them, do let me know how you get along!

What additional tips local optimisation tips would you recommend?
Would you go as far as having a  ”Review Centre” computer in your premises for your customers to write reviews?
I’d be more than happy to answer any questions :)

Cheerio!

Director and Digital Marketing Strategist at Fuzz One Media, Kunle has been involved in digital marketing since 2004. He is a Certified Google AdWords Expert, a passionate SEO and a self-admitted data junkie who loves drilling into web analytics stats. Catch him on Twitter & LinkedIn

4 Comments

  1. Yasir

    These are some solid tips.

    I have also found Rich Snippets for Local Search (http://maps.google.com/help/maps/richsnippetslocal/) to be very useful for one my client so it is worth having a look at.

    In regards to Review computer, I read somewhere that one merchant tried that and they got a penalty from Google as they were using the same IP so make sure you use proxies for your review computer :)

  2. Hi Kunle,
    Great first post, I really like the focus of local SEO.

    There are some great tips here, and I like the idea of the review centre computer but would be concerned by the IP and the potential of being penalised. Another way of doing it could be to look at your orders/conversions and email repeat customers who might be interested in providing a glowing report. The revi.ews also do not necessarily have to be just for Google or Bing Local but places such as Brownbook, Yell.com

    Using tools such as GetListed.org (change to UK), enter your details and you will see where you are lacking behind. Another suggestion would be to research where your clients have citations and to replicate those. I would also recommend following David Mihm on Twitter or having a read of his blog for all things local SEO.

    One question I do have though is, are you allowed to verify by phone again? They stopped this for some reason and resorted to the postcards which took a while.

  3. @Yasir Yes Rich Snippets are absolutely helpful for Local Search Campaigns but may be a bit advanced for business owners carrying out DIY Local SEO.

    @Daniel Glad you like the Local SEO focus! Thanks for adding GetListed.org tip

    @Yasir @Daniel I have always been skeptical about having on-site review centre computers until I read this post about Google now encouraging SMEs to install computers at their premises to leave Google Places reviews. It is quite controversial – even Yelp & TripAdvisor do not allow on-site reviews.

  4. @Daniel Yes – they recently put a halt on phone verification and send a postcard to the address you supplied with a pin. Thanks for pointing this out.

    GetListed.org was actually on the list #12.

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