Social Media Marketing, Social Media Strategy & Social Media Services

July 22, 2017

SEO Practices: All you need to know about “Local Search”






Local Search means searching on websites that will help you locate businesses near your target geographic area. What does “local search” include? It uncludes: map sites, yellow pages, search engines, and local directories. Let me give you a complete breakdown on how this process is accomplished.

Step 1: Why do you need Local Search?

Say that you are searching for certain key terms on Google, and because those key terms were on your listing, your listing will show up. This listing will be above the organic search results as well. Do you want to show up for the search terms that your prospects are looking for in your given area? This is exactly why you need to turn to local search. The next focus is going to be keyword research.

Step 2: Keyword Research

Which terms would you like your business to rank for? For example, if you’re a lasik doctor there is not much demand for “cosmetic procedures” but there is for “vision correction” so remember this information as you try to select categories in any of the listings you create. Now, go to Google Places and claim your listing.

If you want my recommendation for a keyword tool, try this one:

Remember, when you are choosing your categories, the more specific they are, the better you will rank for them. Google will allow you to choose 5 different categories to rank for. Try to make them relevant and related in the areas of the Google category hierarchy. Google requires one category from its hierarchy and then you choose the rest of the categories. My best recommendation would be to select 2 or 3 of the default categories and customize 2 or 3 as well. Whatever you choose, do not add place names to any custom categories, Google will reject this inquiry.

Trick: Check the traffic for the plural version of the keyword, sometimes the traffic will differ. Now if the plural and singular are the same, then Google is mapping them both together. If they are not, then you might want to add both.

Like what I said before, the categories must be relevant to your content. For example, if you’re a plumber and you don’t have “kitchen sink repairs” as one of your services, then you might want to consider including it on your website. This way you can add it as a category as well.

The Keyword Research Tool is Your Best Friend:

You made your list of 50-100 catagories you are interested in. Then use a keyword tool to see how much traffic they are getting on a local level. For starters you can use Google Adwords Keyword Research Tool and Adwords Traffic Estimator  to find the relevant traffic and keyword suggestions. I usually recommend changing the “broad match” to “exact match” so you can see the traffic without the added variations of the word.

For example:

Term: [red scarf]

Exact Match: [red scarf]

Phrase Match: [red scarf], [red shoes], [buy red scarfs], [ red shoe problems]

Broad Match: [red scarf]. [red polka dotted dress], [red boots]


Make sure your research is based on your primary words and the geographical areas of the words. For example. “lasik San Diego” or “San Diego Lasik”. After you check the best searches from a traffic point of view, now check the competition. The main thing you want to check about your competitors is the amount of reviews they have for Google Places.  In the end you should be able to come up with five terms based on: the terms that your prospects will be searching for you with, they are receiving a lot of searches, and they have low competition.  

After the five words have been picked, create individual pages on your website which have a strong focus on this. Make sure you content is optimized with them and you have links that are going to these key phrases.

My biggest tip would be to look at your competitor’s listing and see the catagories they have chosen. This will give you an idea of which keywords to choose.

Step 3: Location Pages

This will be set up on the home page of your website. On this page you want to put your name, address, and phone number on the “Contact Us” page. Also add this on the home page. If you have many locations then you may want to consider making many different pages that simply describe each location. I see that if you put your: name, address, and phone number on every page, this may be great for the location page. For me, this is too much. Go with your instinct on this one!

Step 4: Data Provider Services

You want to make sure that you provide correct data to the following: the yellow pages, local search companies, and other companies. They may use this on the web. Make sure you have one phone number per location, and all your listings are consistent throughout. If they are not consistent it will hurt your rankings. Another item you want to make sure is that the category for the business is correct between the different providers. Yellow Pages and other websites get their information from these data providing services and any information that is not consistent will not do you any good. If you have a suite number, make sure you include it. Your address should not match any other address of any other business.

The top data providing services you want to consider:


Step 5: Claim your listings

Yellow pages differs from other local search companies because they publish a physical copy and distribute it as well. If you are reconsidering using the yellow pages, then you should think about having at least one ad. Then check the awareness that it is bringing into your business.

Yellow Page Providers you should submit to:



Step 6: Local Search Listings:

Below are local search companies that do not really provide listings:

AOL Yellow Pages:

City Search:

Insider Pages:

Step 7: Citations

Where are citations located? They can be found at the bottom of the page where it says: “More about this place.” These maybe viewed as if they were SEO links, but make sure you list all your important contact information in this area. The more information you have, the higher you will rank.  This also is saying that the more directory submissions you make to other places besides Google Places, the higher your rankings will be. You will want to add places that are located near you as well. To find these, look at the citations of the businesses that are near you. Some of these will have you fill out a form, or call the local chamber of commerce. Others will have a mail directory and other forms of submitting your citations. It is always okay to ask your friends and other partners for your citation on their website.

Step 8: Have the Reviews Rolling In

Honesty is the best policy when thinking about writing reviews for your company. You want your loyal customers to take a stance and write reviews for you. The Federal Trade Commission will go after you if you do not have legit reviews up. Check the [Google: ftc fake reviews] if you want to find out.

My favorite idea is to add an incentive on my business cards for people who are interested in writing a review. Imagine the customer is really happy with the service, this would be the perfect time to hand them a business card and ask for a review.

Here is a comprehensive list of where you can get reviews from, other than Google Places:

Angie’s List:


City Squares:

City Voter:


City Voter:



Judy’s Book:



Now if you are in the hotel or restaurant industry, then you might want to consider:








Note: Find the review sites Google places features their reviews from for the industry your in and the local competitors. These are the sites you want to go after.

Step 9: Claim the other Search Engine Listings

There are 500,000 search engines out there. Make sure you get your listing on the other 2 main ones as well:

Yahoo! Local:



Step 10: Optimize Your “Google Places” entry

You have citations, reviews and last but not least, claim your Google Places. The reason you want to claim your listing last is because when Google evaluates your business for the first with plenty of reviews from the above. Google wants to see what your CTR (clickthrough rate) and Bounce Rate your entry is getting. These are a few of the variables Google uses to determine the rank.


Also, in the local search you can find references to Google’s “Onebox”, “ThreePack”, “Seven-Pack”, and “Ten-Pack”. These are talking about the listings you see that are shown in the organic search results. The amount of listings are in the “pack”. The ideal situation to be in is when you only have a “OneBox”. However, most of the times Google is able to find other businesses that are in your similar niche, and lists them as well. Don’t give up on this.


Claiming on Google Places:


The first thing you want to do is to search your business to see if the Google Places actually exists.

Actually Going in and Claiming your Google Places Page

Use your company Google account (the same one you use for Google Webmaster Tools or Google Analytics).  If you don’t have one, set one up, then log into it first. If it is not there, then you would go to the “Places Page” and then click on “Edit Details” to the right.

Now you will see a bunch of optional places as well to put your information into. Make sure you put in all your information. The more information you add, the better your chances of increasing your rankings.

The last thing you will have to do is to verify your listing. You can do this through the phone or SMS.


After your Google places is set, make sure you start optimizing it by getting reviews, and checking the information a couple of times every month. 

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