Why is it important?
Those who read my blog regularly will know, there is rarely an article that does not contain statistics. So to start you off here are some statistics which justify the importance of local search;
Local Search Growth – According to a study by ComScore, local search volume has grown at a faster pace than regular web searches. Year on year, local search volume grew by 58% (vs. 21% for regular search) and now represents 12% of all user searches. In the Australian market this therefore equates to approx 1.3 million local searches per year.
Mobile Internet Growth – According to a recent report from Nielsen, 68% of all Australian mobile devices have mobile internet access, and 44% of those utilised their mobile device to access the internet. As mobile internet provides GPS tracking, it opens up many opportunities for the delivery of local search results.
Google’s Focus On Local Search; For sometime Google has been working on the delivery of more local search results for its users. One of their latest blog articles, covers the wider spread use of maps to deliver local search results even when a location has not been entered with the search term. This targeting is executed through the use of IP targeting.
How to go Local?
1. Domain Extension; If you are yet to register your domain, consider the use of a .com.au domain especially if you have a local business. Whilst a .com domain can be appealing from a cost perspective, it is outweighed by the lost opportunity from an SEO perspective.
2. Local Host Provider; One way Google determines if a site is local to a country is by the location of a sites server. It is not enough to host your site with a local provider as even though their offices are located in Australia their servers may be hosted overseas. Refer to http://www.whois.sc/ to determine where your hosting provider is located.
3. Google Local Business Listing; Secure your local business listing through the Google local business centre at www.google.com/local/add. It isn’t however enough just to claim the listing, ensure that you provide comprehensive information which products and services, office hours, images and even user reviews and discount vouchers.
As an extra tip if your organisation covers several locations register your business in the separate localities. To do so you will need a physical address which can be achieved through acquiring a PO box in each additional location.
So now you know why to optimise for local search here are 8 tips to do so:
4. Contact Us / About Us Address Optimisation – Google is aware that address / location information for a business is usually held within the about us or contact details section of a site, thus ensure that you have your full business address/es listed on the relevant pages even if it is not crucial for your customers to know your physical office location.
5. Local Directory Listings – Whilst directory listings have lost some of their value from a “link juice” perspective, listings detailing location details, can assist Google to determine your location. Maintain your listings on yellowpages.com.au, truelocal.com.au and any of the other prominent Australian directories.
6. Content Optimisation – It is important to also make your location prominent throughout your site. Where relevant optimise your content to include location details (ie within meta tags, and within copy). Don’t make the mistake of stuffing your content with location keywords – remember it needs to make sense for your users.
7. Local Speech Optimisation – If your product or service location is usually referred to with a nickname – also try optimising your site for this location as well ie Chaddy vs Chadstone.
8. Google Webmaster Location – Within the Google Webmaster Tool, there is now a setting to select your Geographic location. If you are not familiar with the Google Webmaster tool visit www.google.com/webmasters/tools/