THE BLOG
11/25/2013 10:27 am ET | Updated Jan 25, 2014

Local SEO: 5 Tips to Conquer Your Local Market

Now, more than ever, local SEO needs to be a key focus of a local company's marketing plan. As the number of mobile searches continues to increase, so does the importance of being found through those mobile searches in addition to local searches performed on personal computers.

The search engines are constantly introducing updates and making algorithm changes to bring their users the most accurate and relevant results pertaining to their search. For example, if a consumer located in Los Angeles, California is looking for a dentist and types "Los Angeles dentist" into their smartphone's search engine, it makes perfect sense that all of the results are dentist offices located in the Los Angeles area, right? Dentist offices located down I-710 in Long Beach aren't going to be convenient to the consumer.

So, what can those dentists in Los Angeles, and local businesses all over do to get their business at the top of local search results? They can start by following these 5 local SEO tips:

1. Intelligent Keyword Research & Onsite Optimization

Selecting the correct keywords is an important part of the local search engine optimization process. Each business needs to identify the search terms that will result in providing the highest quality visitors to their website or business listing.

Common sense along with keyword research will help uncover the best terms to target. Let's use a lawyer in Chicago whose main practice area is DUI defense as an example. The term "Chicago lawyer" has a higher monthly search volume than the keyword "Chicago DUI lawyer" but that doesn't necessarily make it the smart choice. Consumers that search for the terms specific to the practice area are higher quality visitors and have a higher likelihood to turn into a phone call, a consultation, or a client.

Once the best keyword(s) are selected it is time to make sure that the website is properly optimized for them. For the best results the keyword(s) should be used naturally in the title tags, meta description, header tags, and page content. Do not just jam the keyword(s) all over thinking that is going to work. Using the same example as above we will focus on the title tag. An acceptable title tag that includes the main keyword would be "(Lawyers Name): Your Chicago DUI Lawyer | (Site URL)," as it uses the main keyword in a natural and non-spammy way.

2. Complete Local Places Pages

It is no secret that Google+ Places, Yahoo Local, and Bing Places are three of the most important local business directory listings. These are the results that show at the top of the search engine results. If you are a local business then you want to make sure that your business is listed within these results. While many businesses do have these profiles set up, a majority of them do not have them optimized correctly.

When setting up these local business profiles, it is important to fill out all of the information. Do not leave any sections empty or incomplete. Taking the extra time to fully complete the listings will do wonders for long-term local SEO results. Upload videos, images, write a detailed business description making sure to use your keyword(s), and make sure that all of the contact details mirror those on your websites contact page. Also, don't forget to verify the listings as instructed.

3. Encourage Online Reviews

The local business pages listed above all allow customers to leave detailed reviews, and it is important to encourage your customers to do so. Positive reviews on these pages along with other sites such as Yelp.com play a major role in local SEO.

Don't be afraid to ask customers to leave a review. If you provided a great experience and or service then most of the time they will be happy to do this. The odds of them doing this are increased if you make it easy for them to find these review websites.

A simple example: Let's pretend that you own a restaurant and want to make your customers aware of the review sites. At the end of their dining experience have the servers include a little business card sized note along with the customers copy of his or her credit card receipt and bill that simply says, "We hope you enjoyed your time with us today! We would love to hear about your experience!" along with links to the review sites.

4. Accurate Citations & Business Directory Listings

When the search engine discovers a business name, address and phone number on additional business directories, it will begin to assign more authority to that local listing. Do not spam your business details across low quality directories. The name of the game here is quality and authority.

Focus on listing your business on the major directories, making sure to use the same exact format across them all. This is where paying attention to details will reward you.

5. Links & Social Signals

When it comes time to build links to your website remember that this is not a numbers game. The best kind of link is a natural link, and content marketing is a great way to get those. Create a blog on your website and keep it updated constantly. Provide your readers useful information and they will naturally spread it across the web for you. When they begin to share your information on Facebook and Twitter, it creates strong social signals that the search engines love.

Using these easy-to-implement tips can help your business increase its website traffic from local searches. Local SEO takes time and the search engines reward high quality websites that offer a valuable user experience so always keep that in mind. Far too many times businesses will focus more on building a massive amount of links to the website and put the "quality" on the back burner. Focus on creating a website for your customers and use the above tips to optimize it for the search engines.