There are many things you can be doing with your website to help you gain more traction in your local search results. For example, we always want to be first in the “Ottawa Website Design”, “Kanata Web Design”, “Stittsville Web Design”, etc. Here are some great tips on how you can make this happen.
Make sure that you have a crawler friendly web site
The very first step in improving your performance in local search engines is to make sure that the search engines can easily crawl your site. Minimize the use of tables, and avoid deeply nested tables. Make sure that your business name, address, and contact information is featured prominently on the page as text, and not hidden from the crawlers in an image file. Your homepage title should include your business name, address and key words. Place a “H1” header near the top of the page that also has your business name, address, and local keywords in it.
Include your business address twice on the page
In addition to placing your business address prominently on the page, also include it in the footer. Abbreviate the business province in one of the addresses, and spell it out in the second iteration. Abbreviated provinces are sometimes misinterpreted by the crawlers.
Local blog articles
Write blog articles that include content that is written for your local followers. Using local keywords will be adding valuable content to your site.
Check out your business listing on the major search engines
Check out your business listings on Google, Yahoo Local, and MSN Live Search. If your business is not found, you should submit a listing at Google, Yahoo, and Superpages (for Microsoft Live Search).
For each listing, make sure that your contact info is correct, your business description is complete, and that it uses the same keywords that you are using on your web site. Make sure that your description has all the info that your potential customers will need to contact you. Include the county in addition to the city on your business listing. Finally, check out any photos of your business on the business directories, and provide better photos when you can.
Get your business rated
Ask your satisfied customers to write reviews and rate your business at Google, Yahoo, and MSN. Ask them to use the same keywords that you use in the business description and on your web site as part of their review. Don’t add too many reviews over a short period of time, and make sure that the reviews are very unique.
Solicit local links
Find a bunch of web directories that are local to your area, and ask them to link to your web site. Contact your local chambers of commerce (there are 2 in Ottawa) and ask them to link to your business from their web site.
Check out your competition
Do a local search for your business keywords (i.e. Web Design, Ottawa, ON) and see who your competition is. Find out who is linking to your competitors and investigate whether you can get the same sites to link to your business website. The links can be determined by going to Yahoo and typing “linkdomain:” and then your competitor’s web site (i.e. linkdomain:www.yourcompetitorssite.com). Click on “inlinks” in the results page.
Check inlinks for your site as well, and see who is linking to you. Make sure that the information on those sites is correct, and contact them if it isn’t.
Verify directory information
Check out your business listing on your local phone company site and other local phone directory sites. Make sure that your business information and description are what you want. Also, make sure that your information is correct at InfoUSA, Amacai, and Acxiom, which are major sources of local business data licensed by many directories.
Create separate web pages for different cities/regions
If your business serves multiple cities or regions, consider creating separate web pages for the different locals. It will take some time, but can really pay off in the end. To avoid duplicate content issues, be sure to have very unique, relevant content on each of the local specific pages. You can use online plagiarism tools to be sure your not content stealing. Be sure to include the county in addition to the city in describing your business.