You’ve heard it before: Location, Location, Location. Just as in the brick and mortar world, Location matters in Search Engine Optimization as well. And this trend is not one to be ignored.
Think of it this way: Google is in the business of providing the best answer for people’s questions (questions otherwise known as search queries). Your business may not be the best answer for “coffee” or even “coffee shop,” but “houston coffee shop” or “the woodlands coffee shop”? Now the field is narrowing to just your customers, and your business is rising above the pack.
Microsoft says 53% of Searches have Local Intent. Google says one in three searches happen from a Mobile Device. Location Based Services like Foursquare and Gowalla are growing. Location has been important for years, but with the increase in the importance of the mobile web, it’s more important now than ever.
What does it mean to your business?
Be sure your site is optimized for the geography of your customers.
Top 5 Tips: How to optimize your site for Location
1. Claim your Google Places Listing
You may have noticed that when you do a search, you often see more than just the traditional 10 organic Search Results. Sometimes you see images, sometimes video, and often Red Pins and a map with a list of businesses based on their relevance to your search and proximity to you.
These pins represent Google Places Pages. If Google is aware of your business, they have already made a Place Page for you. Now it’s your opportunity to claim the listing and add as much relevant information about your business as possible. To get started, look for the link at the top right labeled “Business Owner?” and click.
If your business is not listed, go to google.com/places to get started.
After you’ve conquered Google, check out Bing’s version of Google Places – Bing Business Portal
2. If possible, include your address in the sidebar or footer on every page
This is dual purpose – for visitors and for Google. You don’t want site visitors (potential customers) to have to search all over for your phone number and address. This is also helpful for Google because it reinforces your address and city name on every page Google indexes.
In the SEO world these references are known as “Citations” – anytime your business name and phone number or address appear together on the web, even if there is no link to your site. This adds validity to the address on your Google Places listing and tell Google you are relevant (similar to link backs).
For some sites, you just can’t add every location to the footer because there are too many. Consider text like “serving XYZ geography” with a link to you locations page.
3. If you have multiple locations, create separate pages on your site for each
If you have multiple locations, consider creating separate pages for each. Each page can stand on its own for the keywords related to that city or neighborhood. Be sure that every page has unique content, or you may get dinged by Google for having duplicate content.
Ideas for content: an embedded Google map showing the locations, text directions from at least two points of interest in the city, a paragraph of text on what that location specializes in, photos of the locations, information about the Staff, etc. etc.
4. Make sure city information is in title tag, meta description on interior pages
Don’t stop at the homepage, make sure geography terms are sprinkled in throughout the entire site. Add your city or state (or neighborhood) where it makes sense in your page’s content, title tag, and meta data. Consider every page of your site, as each page will stand alone in its specific keywords.
5. Submit to applicable directories
Tackled all of the above and looking for more? Consider submitting your site to directories. To find applicable Directories, follow SEOMoz’s advice on finding linkbacks for your business advice and do a search for Cityname + Business Type + Listings/Businesses/Results. You will get a list of links to various directories that catalog your type of business.