A lot of internet marketing companies specialize SEO with the intent on competing for keywords on a national level. The more people searching online for products or services, the more competition there is in a specific niche. Nowadays, a lot of companies and SEO experts are focusing on local search engine optimization. I know what you’re thinking. What is local search engine optimization? Well, the people that are searching for products online also look for local services and products as well. If something is too big to ship, a person might opt for just going and picking one up at the store. More likely though, a person is looking for localized services that a national company probably won’t be able to provide. There are thousands of niches on the local level that SEO experts are penetrating even as we speak. In this post, I’ll explain some basic components of local search engine optimization and how you can use it to gain market share in your industry.

Local Search Engine Optimization Ranking Factors

What is Local Search Engine OptimizationEven though the basic concepts of SEO still apply, local search engine optimization is a little bit different. There are just a few things that you should note. There are local organic listings and there are also map listings.

Organic search results are driven by the same factors that determine national rankings. Therefore, keyword research and on-page optimization techniques are still the bread and butter of being seen on page one of the search engines. If you have great content that other people enjoy and share on their social networks, you will get some bonus points and will receive a better placement in the listings. The biggest difference with organic listings and local search engine optimization is the maps listing on sites like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

Local map listings on the search engines are only nominally influenced by social signals and backlinks. The biggest ranking factor with local marketing is the number of times your business’s listing is cited in local and regional business directories. These are called citations. Just like how when you made a business page on LinkedIn or Facebook and you typed in your address, you continue this process with other sites like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and other business directories. As of right now, the number of quality citations you have tell the search engines that your site is trustworthy and should be seen by all of the local searchers.

Getting a maps listing on the local search engines requires that you optimize your respective information on each site. For Bing, Yahoo, and Google, there are specific business pages that you have to create. On those pages, be sure to include your keywords in your business descriptions. Furthermore, be sure that you input as many details as the sites will allow. The more information that the search engines have about your business, the more trusted your website will become.

Local Search Engine Optimization Tips

What's Local Search Engine OptimizationWith local search engine optimization, like I said before, citations play the biggest factor in gaining a first page ranking. There are a number of ways to do this and I’ll get into that in just a minute. For now though, I’m going to tell you the most important detail when creating these citations. When you create your Google for Business page, use a real address. They will send you a postcard with a special code that you have to use to verify your business’s location. After you have done that, wait about a week to see how Google displays your address. Sometimes, they will abbreviate listings so you want to be sure to double check to see EXACTLY how your address is listed.

After that, you will need to create your citations according to whatever address Google displays, not what you typed into the address box when creating your profile, but how it is displayed after you have verified your local listing. A lot of people get this wrong with local search engine optimization and don’t understand what is going on. This is the main culprit for not getting listed in maps.

Most likely, you are going to need a few hundred citations to be in the game. There are a few tools you can use online to check your competitors citations, but with local SEO, you have to bring a tank to a gun fight. It’s okay to overdo it on this one. These local citations aren’t links. They are just brand mentions along with your details, so you can’t really go overboard even if you tried.

There are two basic ways that I like to get citations for local SEO. I look for freelance workers on sites like ODesk.com or Elance.com. I’ve also found a couple of decent fiverr.com gigs, but anything on that site is sort of ‘get what you pay for.’ I wouldn’t recommend that route. Another great option is to use specialized citation building services like Whitespark.com or TheHoth.com. They charge around four or five bucks per citation. This is the most expensive route, but it is the most reliable in my book.

Hopefully I’ve answered ‘What is local search engine optimization’ with this overall guideline and you are only steps away from getting a listing on maps. Just be warned though, there are only seven spots available on a maps listing, but once you’re in, you’re in. You don’t have to worry too much about bouncing up and down in the listings because of some SEO update that the search engines just rolled out. It’s not as volatile as organic listings and you can see a result pretty quickly.