In a global world, local is still important.
Your business may provide a service that doesn’t depend on place: web design, software, goods sold via Internet and shipped, etc. Yet, even when buying a used book online, many customers like going with local businesses. Further, a person’s location will be considered by Google for any business search, and local results will be prominently displayed. Here are some ideas for getting good results from local search functions.
If you haven’t included maps to your business—if there is or can be any in-person component to it at all—you should do so. This will be beneficial in google results and will also help create a “google images” section of results on the first page. It will help your information stand out to the searcher. Maps can appear in blog posts along with other more obvious venues such as your facebook page or web page.
It’s important to have a presence on sites that focus on locality, like yelp! or, if applicable, tripadvisor. But that’s the mere tip of the iceberg. Local searches are powered by various directories and aggregators that funnel their info into the search engine. It’s not a bad idea to have your information in these directories. There is software available for doing so, such as MOZlocal, which will push your info out to the proper directories.
This is particularly true if your business is mostly brick-and-mortar, with sales or services happening physically within your community. More and more, people are using smartphones while searching, shopping, dining, etc., and want reviews.
As mentioned above, profiles on yelp! and similar sites are not a half-bad idea. If you have mentions about your local-social presences (little logos and signs in your shop), that will encourage people to use these. Offering an extraordinary product or going above and beyond are ways to get good reviews. Remember, even bad reviews can be helpful—or at least not harmful. The reader will make his or her own interpretation, so resist the urge to commission faux reviews or to panic over one or two pans.
Be Part of Your Community
As mentioned above, even if you ship your circuit boards or hand-crafted soap around the globe, there’s nothing stopping people from across town from doing business with you. Since people will always get local results from popular search engines, it’s important to connect this way if at all possible. We all live where we live, and having a community around us is nice.
Partnering with other businesses, trading guest-posts on their blogs, cross-pollenating videos and photos on social networking are catnip to search engines. These things create the right kind of linking that will get you in the top pages of search results.
They will also cause all of the benefits of networking and forming trust with your neighbors. So get going, and get local!