Local Search Is Coming— Is Your Site Ready?

Google Local has arrived, which allows users to enter geographic search terms, and get results with physical street address and phone number, along with a MapQuest map and related links.

Yahoo! launched SmartView in March, which is integrated with Yahoo! Maps and provides information on nearby businesses such as restaurants, hotels, discount stores. Verizon’s SuperPages.com now allows small businesses to target consumers in a geographic region, and pay only when visitors click through to their site.

AOL’s “In Your Area” local search function allows users to look for business listings, entertainment and events nearby.

Notice a trend?
Almost 40% of Internet searches are for local goods and services. If yours is a local business with mostly local clientele, you need to make sure your web site is optimized for your local market.

Although local search technology is still evolving, there are some things you can do to increase your chances of being found by local consumers:

  1. List the physical address of your business on your web pages, preferably near the top
  2. Include city and state/province location in your meta description and title tags, i.e. < meta name=“title” content=“Coffee News Fort Bend: Affordable Local Advertising”
  3. Use location information in the site’s content, both within the body of the text and in links to other local businesses or places of interest. Keyword rich content should now include geo-location information
  4. Use location info in your heading tags, i.e. <h1>Coffee News Fort Bend: Affordable Local Advertising for Small Business</h1>
  5. Gigablast.com recommends adding geosensitive meta tags, i.e.
        meta name=“zipcode” content=“77459,77479,77478”
        meta name=“city” content=“Sugar Land, Missouri City, Stafford”
        meta name=“state” content=“Texas”
        meta name=“county” content=“Fort Bend”
        meta name=“country” content=“United States, USA, United States
          of America”

Visit  http://geourl.com and learn how to add a GeoURL tag to your site.
This is a tag that gives the longitude and latitude of your location.

Sure, it’s a long shot, but what the heck… As local search evolves, we’ll find out more about how search engines determine location. In the meantime, local businesses that can be easily found via the search engines will be ahead of the pack, and it will be that much harder for the competition to catch up.

Sharon Fling is the author of “How to Promote Your Local Business on the Internet,” and creator of GeoLocal.com, the web’s largest resource for using the Internet to promote small local business online. Subscribe to GeoLocal’s free Tip of the Week.