Bartenders call them regulars. College students call them townies.
You may know them as locals. Whatever you call them, the people who spend the most time in your town are a valuable resource.
They not only know the best restaurants, car dealerships and clothing stores in town, they know the best way to get there, where to park and the owner’s first name.
These hyper-users are so valuable, they are changing the way businesses reach their customers online.
A recent survey from the Pew Research Center shows that 25% of people who get news and information on local businesses get it from locals.
38% rely on search engines. By targeting these two sources, businesses are increasing visibility and making information more accessible.
These early adopters of what experts call “local SEO” have digitized the bus stop, your neighbor’s fence or the local coffee shop, allowing neighbors to exchange advice and businesses to showcase positive reviews.
So how can you get in on the action? In today’s post, we will examine a few Local SEO strategies and tell you if they will work for your business.
Show Google Some Love
Like it or not, Google controls most of the market share in the world of search engines.
It is the go-to platform to find pretty much anything. That is especially true for local businesses. According to the Pew study, 60% of adults turn to the internet to find local businesses.
With over 70% of the market share for internet searches, Google is top dog. But you only get out of Google what you put in, so making sure your information is claimed, sorted and up-to-date is critical.
The most important tool Google offers is Google Places (what they are now calling Google + Local). These listings ensure that your business is included when Google returns local results with an accompanying map or users search using a smart phone in your local area.
This week, after months of complaints from marketers and business owners, Google introduced a new Google Places dashboard.
This allows business owners to take a step-by-step approach to listing their business and getting it verified. Make sure this information is complete and comprehensive, including images, videos, hours of operation and detailed descriptions.
The Power of Local Backlinks
Anyone who grew up in a small town knows that the closest option is not always the best.
How many times have you driven to a grocery store or a bar a little further away because it offers better service to more of your friends? Google tries to replicate this experience by presenting local results that are not only close to your location but that are liked by more local residents.
One way Google recognizes your business as a local darling is through local backlinks.
Local backlinks are links to your site hosted on the websites of other local businesses.
Think of all the local events and community partnerships that tie your business to the community. How many of those local partners are telling the world about you on their websites?
You may be asking “why would a local business post a link to my website?” What many business owners don’t realize is that most websites have opportunities for businesses to seamlessly link to each other, creating benefit for each other and the local community. Do your local partners have a blog?
How about a local event calendar? Do they have a list of community partnerships or even just a place to host ads? The more of these backlinks you can create, the higher you will show up in local results.
The New Phone Book
Before computers took over the job of storing all information, businesses created listings with the help of the phone company, getting a free placement in the phone book.
Today, web searchers use local directories like Yelp, Foursquare and YP.com to find basic phone numbers and addresses.
Making sure your information is claimed, corrected and uniform across all these directories improves your local presence that much more.
While this work may seem tedious, every visitor to one of these directories is a dedicated local looking to patronize a business in their community.
A great first step is a quick listing audit on GetListed.org.
GetListed searches the web for your business and lets you know the status of your listing across 13 local directories.
They then offer you a link to each directory where you can go through the process of claiming your listing and getting the information correct and fully optimized.
Depending on what type of business you have, you may be able to find industry-specific directories that are more targeted to your client base.
Industries like medicine, education and auto have countless databases and search engines dedicated to getting users where they want to go.
Getting your businesses listed increases successful searches from local users, which improves your local rankings.
Because local SEO is so important, we are holding a FREE Local SEO webinar tomorrow, April 25, 2013 at 3PM called, Local SEO Secrets.
To register for this totally FREE local SEO webinar simply click the image below!