Local Search Engine Optimization is Essential for Holiday Sales

‘Tis The Season For Local Business Search

The number of shoppers using local search to find products, or services grew to 15.7 billion last year. This year, overall search volume is increasing dramatically. Comscore reports that in the month of August (2009), Americans conducted more than 13.9 billion searches on the five major search engines. (Searches for mapping and local directories, not on the core domain of the five search engines aren’t included in this data).

Almost half of local searchers contacted or visited a local merchant as a result of an online search, and most consumers spend the majority of their income within a 50 mile radius of their homes. Considering these numbers, acquiring local search exposure has to be a primary business objective.

While not an alternative to more comprehensive local SEO, local search registration, is a good first place to begin. You can start by registering your business profile in the following shopping arenas:

Major Search Engines (Google, Bing, AOL, Ask)
Local Business Search Directories (Dex, Yellow Pages, SuperPages)
Specialized Directories and Web Portals
Get Optimized Local Placement At The Major Search Engines

Local search gives smaller companies a low-cost chance to get first page search engine placement. Companies with a local or regional focus must, at a minimum, make sure to submit an optimized business profile to all the major search engines–even if they don’t have a company website.

Google’s Local Business Center lets businesses construct their business profile listings and offers both mail or phone options for data verification. Google’s user control panel/dashboard allows for easy control of listing data and offers options for image and video uploads. Coupon creation and traffic monitoring features are also available.

Microsoft’s new Bing Listing Center operates much like Googles’s. Their local business information requirements and confirmation procedures are almost identical. Bing also offers a supplemental websites area to add extra web links in your business listing. The additional links let you provide the more detailed information shoppers need to make informed buying decisions.

A Cautionary Note:

Don’t forget that your competition is trying to reach the same shoppers with the same, or similar, products and services. You have to make sure your company data is well-optimized. Search engines are notoriously slow about making changes or correcting errors, so be sure to ‘get it right’ from the outset.

Explore The Local Business Directory Options

Businesses need to also submit search engine optimized company profiles to the large online local directories (Dex, SuperPages, etc.).These are the directories that are quickly replacing paper phone books. Forty-five percent of Internet Yellow Pages and local directory searchers made an online purchase in Q4, 2008.

There are dozens of other specialized directories and local web portals that should be considered in addition to the ones mentioned above. Some may be more relevant to a particular industry than others– just evaluate them individually to find the ones that are most appropriate for your target market.

The Bottomline On Local SEO: If You Can’t Be Found– You’re Lost!

Search is so often used as the precursor to both online and offline buying that it’s become a natural and unconscious process. The “second nature” performance of search by shoppers offers a distinct advantage to local businesses that can supply the goods and services they seek. The challenge is getting found.

Companies that get a “leg up” in local search exposure will have a competitive advantage this year– with search engine optimization benefits that extend well into the next.

Kamau Jackson is a Chicago Search Engine Marketing Consultant at Internet Knowledge Solutions. This article is excerpted from Reaching The Web Savvy Shopper. Download It Free Here: Local Search Engine Optimization.

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