local floristSearch engines have become one of the primary ways that people find products and services right in their hometown. This growing reality significantly increases the need for small local business owners to master this thing called local search.

There are many ways to make your website pages much more localized. This is one of the underlying elements that tell the search engines that yours is indeed a local business.

There are a number of things that website owners can do offsite, such as social media participation, that help them come up when people look for local goods and services, but the first step is to make sure that the content on your own site is local focused.

Below are five ways to make your website more local friendly.

Geo content

Simply adding geographic content to your web pages is one of the fist steps. This can include your physical address, directions with street and town names, maps, suburb names and names of communities or neighborhoods where you do work..

It’s also a great idea to do keyword research with local terms to find the best phrases to localized phrases to add to your pages. Google Keyword Tool or Wordtracker

Geo meta tags are also something worth investigating. Google continues to ignore them Bing has admitted they do use them to help determine business location. These tags go in the head section of a page and list the latitude and longitude of a business as well as city, state and country.

The tags for my business are:
meta name=”geo.region” content=”US-MO” /
meta name=”geo.placename” content=”Kansas City” /
meta name=”geo.position” content=”39.040409;-94.598657″ /
meta name=”ICBM” content=”39.040409, -94.598657″ /

Here’s a great Geo Meta Tag tool that will create these for your business address

Internal Links and External Anchor Text

One of the ways that you can enhance the local nature of your onsite and offsite content is to add local keywords in the internal links on your pages (Links that send people to another pages on within you site). So a remodeling contractor that is showcasing kitchen and bath projects located in San Diego would have links to the project pages that would read San Diego Kitchens and San Diego Baths rather than simply Baths or Kitchens.

You also want to add local keywords to the text used to link back to your site from places like LinkedIn or in article directories. So if you’re an attorney in Texas rather than using your URL or firm name in a link you might use Dallas Texas Bankruptcy Attorney as the words or anchor text for a link to your site.

Rich Snippets

Google is busy creating some of its own HTML coding to help it find and display local content and by using what are known as rich snippets you can help Google find geographic information, information about people in your business and reviews of products and services.

Beyond improving the presentation of your pages in search results, rich snippets also help users find your website when it references a local place. By using structured markup to describe a business or organization mentioned on your page, you not only improve the Web by making it easier to recognize references to specific places but also help Google surface your site in local search results.

Here’s a good tutorial for Rich Snippets and Google’s explanation of Rich Snippets for Local Search

Community Resource

It’s become an extremely good idea to add a blog or even use blog software to run you entire site. This format gives more flexibility when it comes to adding pages and content.

Many businesses can create tremendous local content by adding features such as an events calendar or coverage of local happenings around town. It’s not too hard to find an angle that is relevant to your business, interests or industry and then use it as a vehicle for producing local content.

If you partner with local non-profits you might consider giving them coverage on your site.

Local Contributors

One great marketing strategy is to develop a team of local strategic partners – other businesses that serve your same market. These partners should be looked at as a great source of potential potent local content.

Invite each member of your team to contribute content to your blog.  Create video interviews with team members and add directory pages with full local descriptions and ask that they link to these pages with local anchor text.

Find relevant local bloggers using a tool like placeblogger to exchange links and content with.

Don’t forget to get your customers in the act too. Create video success stories and describe the local nature of these customers.

Take a little time over each week to knock out one of these tips and in a little over month your local site overhaul will be paying dividends.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • Hi John,

    Another low-tech way is to connect with folks offline, say in your local Chamber of Commerce and get them involved.

    Or write a post for your local paper. This is a nice way to connect with others who may not know you even exist – present company excluded ! – and generate a little buzz.

    I feel folks underestimate the impact offline marketing has and where it can compliment online tactics.


    • I certainly agree Ivan, but in this case as we are talking about getting found for local search you would need to include ways to drive them online or invite them to comment on your blog as part of your offline outreach.

  • Thanks for the information. I’ll be making some time to read more of your posts!

  • John,

    I have been reading on local search for a while (actually one of your older posts made me start thinking about it).

    A couple of the stats that I found for Google include:

    – in 40% of searches a location is used
    – in 82% of the cases where a location is used a person either; browse a site, visit or contact a store or go to a physical location

    Whether these stats are 100% accurate or even close, when you think about it, 82% of 40% is 32%. So 32% of people using a location are pretty much in buy mode. So hence, it is important to get found locally.

    Great article. I appreciate the great content you give a way.


    Chris Hamilton

    • Thanks Chris – now let’s add to the fact that Google knows or has an idea where you are when you are searching and often returns local results even if you don’t put a city name in the search

  • I’ve really stepped up our local game from our blog perspective and supporting networks sites but really dropped the ball on adding maybe a local events RSS feed and events calendar.

    Thanks for the great tip!

    • On top of helping in the search engines it can be greet content that people appreciate finding.

  • People aren’t using the phonebook and are searching online for local products and services so it’s important for companies to optimize their site to cater to local searchers. Starting a blog that talks about the community and local events is a great idea. It’s a great way to prove that you are working locally and can easily be found.

    • particularly if you can recruit some strategic partners to add content with you!

  • chatmeter

    We at chatmeter think that local search is a great opportunity for SMBs to build a strong, positive online presence. That’s why we’ve designed an easy-to-use tool that helps small businesses figure out how they rank on local search, get listed on prominent search engines, and monitor the chatter about their business across the web. Right now we’re looking for partners, so check out our agency page here: http://www.chatmeter.com/partners/chatmeter_partners.php

    • Thanks – I’ll take a look

  • Here’s a question for you:

    I’m a web designer with a small agency in northeast Pennsylvania. As I’m a country boy, I live and work in the boondocks – but I’m sandwiched between two areas with a relatively high population. Ranking for local search engine results is great if I can rank in either city. I’ve applied all of the above tactics except the geo meta tags. I’m concerned that placing one city in a geo meta tag would decrease the ranking in the other city.

    I’ve been doing quite a bit of research on geo meta tags, but haven’t seen this particular issue addressed. Do you think it would be better to leave the placename tag out all together?

    I’m a computer nerd at heart, but have gotten into the SEO game out of necessity, so I’m no expert.


    North Pocono Web Design

    • That’s a tough one really and I don’t think there’s any harm in putting the tag in as without it the search engines will use an IP address location anyway as part of the information. Your best bet however is always going to be focusing on the thing you can control and that is content about the two cities.

  • John, Great advice and insight- For any local business, online research creates offline buying. The new “411 directory call” is “Google This”.It is an ABSOLUTE REQUIREMENT for local business to optimize their web site and/or web pages to secure local search traffic with map directions and store hours. Offering coupons and discounts online will provide major benefit to any local store owner. Every local business should have landing pages with a fast call to action at the ready to capture local search and local mobile search.

  • I also heard that Google takes into account reviews for it’s placement on local search. There was a story about a guy who actively sought poor reviews in order to get ranked higher in Google… That being said, G has already fixed that issue and will only acknowledge quality, positive reviews.

    • Yes that story prompted some changes at Google

  • Shelly

    Thank-you, I’ve been telling my mortgage website clients this for years, well, the local keywords/local content at least. If someone in Sacramento wants a home loan, they won’t go to google and type in “mortgage company” they’ll be typing in “Sacramento mortgage company” or “sacramento home loans” – since I’ve been coaching my clients since 2007 on this, many are at the top or at least on page one of those crucial searches. I believe it’s 70 or 75% of local shoppers search online first now. It’s on the rise. http://www.MorSystems.com

    • Shelly – indeed with mobile browsers that number may be much higher and the phones know where you are so even if they do put in mortgage company they will get a Sacramento one

  • I have a professional website that is basically a wordpress blog linked to my domain. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to add a geo tag (or any tag) for that matter on my pages. I have my hometown in my “about” page, but that’s about all the local info so far. Any help is appreciated.

    • blogs are different animal because the meta data is in the theme head code and not with each page or psot – so if you have access to the theme and can edit the header file you can add this to that file about the /head tag

  • Great post John, have shared the content on our blog and linked back to you :o)

    • Thanks – do spread the word!

  • Zimmerman Brian E

    Really great post I had no idea about the L and L in the meta name. I didn’t ( or wouldnt think the serps could read that. Great info

  • Great article i am new to your website and hope to read many more!