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Step-by-Step Guide to Netting Local Clients Using National Search Engines

Apr 7, 2008
Local cash-paying clients and customers are looking for your products and services online at this very moment! Want to be discovered by them? Then pay close attention.

At this moment, in every small town across America, more and more people young and old are logging onto Google, Yahoo and MSN to find local products and services.

This is called "Local Search" and it provides a massive opportunity for small businesses savvy enough to score leads in this arena. Here is a simple step-by-step guide that every local business owner should know to get the edge in their local markets.

Right now your strongest competitors are implementing these strategies, and you should be too!

1. REGISTER YOUR SITE WITH THE SEARCH ENGINES
Google, Yahoo and MSN are more-than-anxious to list your information as they build local search directories. This is their job. After all, they're search engines! So make sure you're listed. Search engines like Local and TrueLocal, as well as Judy's Book, Craig's List, and Insider Pages are rapidly building directories with user-generated reviews, so make sure to get in those as well. Now is the time to start building your web presence.

2. OPTIMIZE YOUR WEBSITE AND GEAR IT TOWARD LOCAL SEARCH
Put local terms in your page titles. Don't write: Kitchen Cabinets. Write: New York Kitchen Cabinets. Also, put the same local terms in your anchor text. Put the same local terms in your H1 and H2 tags. And, finally, put the same local terms in your body copy.

3. INCREASE YOUR INBOUND LINKS
All the top search engines look very favorably upon links that are coming back to your site from other websites. The more important that other website is, the more favorable they look at that inbound link. Do your best to find some local directories or strategic partners that will link back to your site. Now, don't just have them link back to your business name. Ask instead if they can link back to your website with a local search term like "affordable custom website design" as we've done at the bottom of this article.

4. PUT A BLOG ON YOUR WEBSITE
Free blogs won't help you here; the blog has to reside on your own domain. This is one of the most powerful and most secret local search tools around today. There are plenty of things to talk about if you think creatively. For example, you can post info about local community events, school gatherings and events, neighborhood block parties, local sporting activities, concerts, theater, shows. Of course, it's better if you can link this content so that it's relevant to your business, but as long as the towns and neighborhoods you want to score well in the search engines with are in your posts and titles, you should rank highly for those terms.

5. CHECK YOUR INFOUSA LISTING
InfoUSA is a website that compiles detailed lists for the purpose of direct mail and telemarketing. However, the company also provides directory listing info for many of the smaller search engine directories. Go to the website InfoUSA to make sure you're listed and to make sure that your listing is updated with the correct info. It would also be a good idea too add as much as you can about you and your company to your profile, things like your website address.

6. ADD LOCAL CONTENT TO YOUR WEBSITE
Your website should have a series of pages filled with interesting and relevant content that's focused on local angles. You can report local news (perhaps as it pertains to your company), describe your company's history in the town or county, offer a briefing of non-profit activities that you or a group you belong to partake in, even provide info on the suburbs or local cities that your staff live in. It's also a good idea to put your physical mailing address on every page you can because that's local content too.

7. PUT A MAP ON YOUR WEBSITE
Google and Yahoo Maps give you the opportunity to link to maps you create. There are also plenty of simple tools available out there that will customize a map for your business. It's also a great idea to include very specific driving directions to your location or locations. This way you can include street names and major landmarks (local content) that can be read by the search engines.

These are only a small handful of ideas to help you build up your ranking in the search engines. Obviously you must have foresight to take the time to do this. These strategies might not pay off today or even tomorrow. But in the not-too-distant future your ranking may soar because of it and you may very well be topping the search engine results pages.
About the Author
Richard Cagney heads the SEO/SEM division of the affordable custom website design firm All Access Unlimited (http://www.allaccessunlimited.com), in Stamford, Connecticut. AAU provides high conversion marketing to companies aiming to expand and grow in the American and world markets.
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