Google Trike © by Bytemarks

Localized search engine optimization can be tricky, especially if you operate in multiple cities.  Let’s say you’re a painter with an office physically located in Plainfield, but you can easily work anywhere in a 10- to 20-mile radius.  You want your website to attract people looking not only for Plainfield painters, but also for Naperville, Aurora, Bolingbrook, Darien, Woodridge, Lombard, and Joliet painters, to name just a few cities.  What’s the easiest way to do that?

 

1. Claim your local business listings with search engines and online directories

This has nothing to do with copywriting, but it’s the fastest and easiest thing you can do.  In fact, you don’t even need a website to appear in Google’s ten-pack listing – those top ten listings of businesses with the flags on the map – at the top of its results pages.  And many directories will give you a basic listing for free.  Who doesn’t love free?!

Start with the major search engines:  Google, Yahoo, and MSN.  Next, check out sites such as www.infoUSA.com, www.Superpages.com, www.Localeze.com, www.Yellowpages.com, www.Yelp.com, www.InsiderPages.com, and www.MerchantCircle.com.   There are more directories (and there might be a few that specialize in your industry), so feel free to snoop around to find them.

Make sure you specify the right category for your business, and include carefully chosen keywords in your business description.  You can use Google Adword’s free keyword analysis tool to discover which keywords are searched on the most often in your industry and geographic area.

 

2. Mention every city you serve on your website

You can help your chances of appearing naturally on search engine results pages by mentioning each city you serve on your website.  Essentially, you’re treating the cities as additional keywords.  You can also include the cities in your page title and page description (or ask your web developer to do it for you).

However, there are two problems with this strategy:  this can look clumsy to viewers, especially if you serve a lot of cities, and this gets you only limited results with the search engines.

 

3. Create a distinct web page for each city you serve

A better strategy is to create a unique landing page for each city you serve.  This dramatically improves your chances with the search engines.  The landing page shows search engines and viewers immediately that your site is relevant to their needs, and the page directs the viewer to additional pages deeper within your site.

The page title and description tags for the landing pages should include the city name, local business address, and local business phone number.  You should also include the city name in your header tags, too.  It helps to embed Google maps only the landing page, even if you’re not interested in driving customers to your physical location.  And also, since services offered and business hours may vary by location, make life easy for your customers and include that information on the landing page as well.

 

4. Advertise locally or regionally with pay-per-click ads

Google is the big player in online advertising, with its Adwords program.  Adwords gives you the choice to customize your campaign to target both regional and specific local areas, depending on whether you want to drive business to your specific physical location (e.g., a local pizza store) or whether you want to reach a wider geographic audience.

Your ad can appear as a regular text ad on Google search pages, on a Google Maps page, or through the Google network (the group of websites, blogs, and emails that have partnered with Google to display Adwords ads).

With Adwords, you pay a set amount each time a viewer clicks the link to your website.  You choose the amount you’re willing to pay per click, and you set your own daily budget allotment.

You’ll want to carefully research the keywords you use (Adwords has a great free keyword analysis tool at https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal).  The ad needs clear, concise sentences that emphasize benefits, and it should direct click-throughs to a relevant landing page.

 

One last thing…

Remember, the key to any successful marketing is to test, test, test.  You should always know where your business comes from, so that you can adjust your strategies at regular intervals accordingly.  Like anything worthwhile, developing the best marketing strategy for your business takes time, effort, and a little know-how.