I’m sure that you have seen the term SEO and understand that it is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization, but did you know that there are different types of SEO? The two basic types of SEO are “on-page”, which is what most people think of, and then there is “local”.

On-page SEO is well known as the optimization of a website’s text using researched keyword phrases as well as properly created hidden tags that the search engines use to understand what a website is about. This is a highly simplified definition of on-page SEO as this post is about Local SEO.

What is Local SEO?
First, you should understand that local SEO partially incorporates traditional on-page SEO as you will see in a few moments. To better understand local SEO, let’s look at the following screen grab for a search for “Pizza”. Google and the other search engines know my location, because I am in Santa Rosa California, I get the following results which are all local pizza restaurants:

Local Search Results Screen Capture

These are local results because the search engine thinks you are looking for a local business. If you were searching for “what is pizza” you would not see local results, you would see definitions of pizza. As you can see, the search engines are smart enough to understand that you want to find a location, not a definition.

Now let’s talk about how to implement local SEO for your business. The methodology I use is this:

You need to first determine what search phrases are best for your business and then make sure that the website copy is optimized for those phrases. In determining these phrases, think “what would somebody that needs these services be searching for online”? Do they know to search for “probate attorney” or something else? There are tools out there that can help you with this such as Wordtracker and others.

Use caution when creating the text for your website. You don’t want to over use the keywords as this can be a negative know as “Keyword Stuffing”. You want to avoid paragraphs like this:

Welcome to the website of San Francisco’s Greatest Dentist. As a San Francisco dentist, I can provide you the with the best service any San Francisco dentist could provide. I am a world class dentist located in San Francisco capable of doing things only a highly trained dentist located in San Francisco could do.” Don’t laugh, I have had to clean up messes similar to this in the past.

Make sure that your website has meta tags and micro data properly embedded. These are items that are not visible to your website visitors, unless they know how to look for them as they are meant for the search engines. If you do not know what these items are, you really should contact a professional to help you.

Next, review your website for errors/omissions that could affect rankings such as not having a highly visible phone number or burying your contact information on a page not linked to from your navigation.

Then, submit the business to the largest “citation” sites by hand including Yelp, Bing Local, Yahoo Local Listings, Angie’s List and others. It is very important to be sure you use the exact name, address and phone in ALL of these sites. Discrepancies in even a few of these could affect your ranking.

Recent surveys by professional local SEO pro’s indicate that having your information in “citation” sites such as Yelp and others can really improve rankings. These sites allow their visitors to review local businesses and these reviews can be critical to success, even bad ones. Here are some statistics from a recent survey of 2,000 consumers:

• 85% read at least some of the reviews posted
• 77% of them read less then 6 reviews on any one company
• 73% say that reviews affect their opinion and makes them trust the company more
• 79% say that they trust the reviews as much as they trust a personal recommendation

So you can see how important it is for you to get the word out as much as possible about your business by properly submitting your business (not your website) to as many of these citation sites as possible.

If you are looking for a pro with over 18 years of online marketing experience, I can help you. Just contact me at marc@net101.com and let’s discuss how we can get you more clients.

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Marc Harris has extensive experience in SEO, content creation, website development and internet marketing. He is a moderator at WebmasterWorld, one of the largest websites for news and discussions geared toward website professionals.