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Local Search Optimisation Improve your Local Internet Advertising

Can the ‘World Wide Web’ really ever become the ‘World Wide and Local Web’? Jamie Clouting, online marketing consultant for Manchester basedPushON, explores ways of ensuring that your local website is found bylocal people.

Haveyou ever tried finding a website for a shop down the road from you? Youknow where it is, but you can’t quite remember the name of it. It sellsgadgets and some odd technologies that you think your dad would reallylike for his birthday. You try a quick search for “Gadgets” and foundsome national mail order site, based miles away. Frustrated, so you tryto refine the search by including your location but are now faced withsearch results for some weird gadgets that your local football teamhave branded and are selling as merchandise!

Perhaps you’re looking online for some corporate training course and no matterhow hard you look you can only find courses that are being run so faraway you’d spend a day travelling and lose valuable time.

Manyof us have had similar frustrating experiences like this. Therefore, itis importatnt that we prevent our customers and clients from having thesame off-putting search experiences when trying to find our brandsonline. In short, we need to find ways of being found more effectivelyin locally focused search.

In this article we’ll be detailingsome quick and easy solutions that will help your websites visibilityin local search results.

Google Map/Local Business Centre

Googleoffers a free service that allows business to add a brief descriptionof their products and services, along with more detailed informationsuch as opening hours and preferred payment methods. Google iscontinuing to master its ‘Universal Search’ results and we arecontinuing to see information from Google Maps being returned in itsmain results page.

Google validate your business locations bysending you out an activation pin. You can expect to receive the pinwithin 3 weeks of requesting it and once active, Google say that, yourad will be live within just 10 days.

Most of the othermajor search engines offer some form of local map functionality too.Check out Yahoo Local and Live Search to get listed in their maps too.

Microformats

Microformats have included a geo-location tag in their hCard, business card. This searchengine friendly business card allows users to hard code their lat &long coordinates directly onto their website. Here’s a quick example ofthe PushON offices location via hCard and geo tag:

<div id=”” class=”vcard”>

<vspan class=”fn”></span>

<div class=”org”>PushON Ltd</div>

<div class=”adr”>

<div class=”street-address”>217 The Boxworks, 4 Worsley Street</div>

<span class=”locality”>Manchester</span>

<span class=”postal-code”>M15 4NU</span>

<span class=”country-name”>UK</span>

<span class=”geo”>

<span class=”latitude”>53.4733</span>,

<span class=”longitude”>-2.26093

</span>

</div>

As>Optimising for Local Keywords/Anchor Texts

Thisshould be your first port of call when looking to optimise for yourlocal search terms. When customers search any of the search enginesthey are typing in text and the search engine attempts to match thattext to websites on the internet that has that text in their content.

To successfully optimise your keywords and content for local search terms,you should consider using them in your page headers, titles anddescriptions.

PushON has recently undertaken some researchinto place names in the Manchester (UK) Area. In terms of search theseare referred to as geographical qualifiers. This research will bepublished shortly via our website and will be available for downloadfor free.

NOTE: be careful of overusing keywords inyour websites content. Remember that your audience is the human readerand not just the search engine; anything over 10% keyword density isdeemed as spam and may have a negative effect on your websites rankingsin the search results. There are a number of browser plug-ins andwebsites that can check your websites content for keyword density.

Directory Listings

Adirectory is a web search tool that is compiled manually by humaneditors. Once websites have been submitted with information (such as atitles, urls and descriptions) they are assessed by the editor and, ifdeemed suitable for addition, are listed under one or more subjectcategories AND geographical regions.

Unlike search engineresults, directories rely on human editing to categorise the websitelistings, not a long and complex algorithm. Some people feel that thisgives human edited directories more credibility then a search engineand as a result the major search engines use these directories toinfluence how they display their own results.

DMOZ – The Open Directory Project (ODP)

What sets the Open Directory Project apartfrom other directories is its database of indexed documents that isavailable to other directories and search engines. A listing hereresults in your website automatically being listed in many otherdirectories and search engines. The model of using volunteer editors isfairly ambitious – and surprisingly successful. It’s a massiveachievement and one of the most authoritative sites on the internet.

Local Directories

Many directories on the internet are internationally focused withregional sections available deep into the sites navigation. However, togain real value in local search you should be aiming to get listed insome locally focused directories that are specific to the town, countyor region your business operates in.

Manchester UK Local Directory

One of the most successful Manchester related directories is Manchester UK.Established by John Moss in 1994 as the Manchester Project; thedirectory has undergone continual growth in recent years. John Moss,Author of Manchester UK, said “human edited directories are invariablymore relevant then even the best constructed algorithms are a crudedevice and results are often completely irrelevant, silly, erroneous orblatantly misleading results.”

He put the directories successdown to it being “relevant to the local area and more relevant andaccurate in terms of the information it contains. Content is our mainconcern – quality content, plenty of it and free.”

Summary

Local Search is an ever-growing area that if taken advantage of willhelp drive quality leads to your website. The hints and tips above willhelp you get a feel for what is required to optimise your website butto get the best out of your website requires a bespoke online marketingsolution.