Getting Local on the World Wide Web
May 01, 2012 at 2:50 PM
Below are three key recommendations for businesses to target local internet users. One of these, Google Places can be done even if your business doesn't have a website.
When someone does a Google or Google Maps search for a business category that Google deems to be more relevant for locals (doctors, mechanics, lawyers etc) it gives local results. Google knows the geographic area that the user is searching from, so it shows a map of the local area on the search results page, with relevant business listings within that area. You don't need a website to appear on these, although having a website will increase the likelihood of someone enquiring with your business, over another business that doesn't have a website. To register your business with Google Places, visit the link below and follow the step by step instructions: www.google.com/ placesforbusiness
Google Adwords is related to the sponsored links on Google, that appear in the yellow banner up the top of the page, and in the right hand column down the side. Adwords is an incredibly effective advertising medium for small businesses. In brief, the way Adwords works, is that a business writes an ad for their sponsored link, selects keywords they want to trigger their sponsored link when someone searches, selects a bid price that they'll be willing to pay Google IF and only IF someone clicks on their ad, and also the geographic regions they want their ad to display in. The geographic region aspect of this means you can specifically target only local internet searches. You can also set daily budgets so you won't spend more than you can afford. Obviously, the effectiveness of this medium vastly depends on the quality of your website, and its ability to convert your visitors into enquiries and sales. You can spend $100 to drive people to a fantastic website, or a terrible one. So if you're spending the money, make sure your website is up to scratch. For an explanation on how Google Adwords works, visit:
To set up your Google Adwords account, visit www.adwords.google.com
Search Engine Optimise for Local Phrases
Finally, you can influence your website's organic search rankings. A lot of this comes down to optimising the website for local phrases. In a basic sense, there are a couple of key things you can do. Let's say you're a mechanic, wanting to target local searchers looking for businesses like yours in the area. You'd use the local areas people may use in a search engine, in the copy on your pages. Google reads top to bottom, giving the words higher up in the copy more relevance than those at the bottom. Here's an example of a well optimised opening paragraph:
"Jakes Mechanical Services is a full service auto mechanical workshop located in Wairau Park, Auckland. We provide everything from wheel alignment, transmition repairs, vehicle servicing, spare car parts, and clutch and gear box repairs. Our central North Shore location means we're easily accessible from Glenfield, Birkenhead, East Coast Bays, Takapuna, and Forrest Hill."
So we're covering our search terms for both services, and geographic locations, so when a search engine reads the page, it's picking up these key words. Lastly, make sure these key words are in your title and meta tags in your website, as well as in your alt tags for your images.
If you're wanting to target local internet searches, these three things will help you find the people in your own back yard, on the world wide web.