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In this course, search engine optimization (SEO) expert Peter Kent walks step-by-step through the process of reviewing the content and markup of an existing web site to improve its ranking in search engine results. This course offers a consultant's take on how to analyze each component—from keywords to content to code—and determine what improvements are necessary to become more visible to search engines like Yahoo!, Bing, and Google.
This course was updated on 10/12/2012.
There is more to localizing a site than just putting location keywords into your pages; you need to make sure that you are properly represented in the local search indexes. Local search results actually come from a totally different index. So even if your web site is in the organic index, you still need to be in the local index. All three major search engines have local indexes. There is Google Maps of course, or Google Places as it's sometimes called. There is also Bing Local and Yahoo Local. And for the moment at least Yahoo Local is still separate from Bing Local and maintained by Yahoo.
These local listings are incredibly important, especially on Google. With many searches, the local listings dominate the search results. Here is what you need to do. First, go to Google, Bing, and Yahoo and search. See if your business is already listed. There is a good chance it is. Go into the listing and look for something like this link, 'Business owner?' in Google, 'Change your business listing' down here in Bing and 'Add Info' here in Yahoo.
Follow the link. You'll have to create an account if you don't already have one. Then you'll be able to modify your listing. If you can't find your listing then you'll have to create one from scratch. You can go to these URLs to do that. By the way, you should create a listing for each location. If you have five locations, make sure you have five listings. Now, when you create or modify your listing, I recommend that you add as much information as possible. You'll want to make sure that you end to your web site's URL of course.
That way the engines will be able to associate the web site with the business of the specific location. And make sure the address you use your listings exactly match what you're using on your web site. Add as many pictures as possible, images of your location and staff, for instance, or perhaps logos of professional associations you're a member of. If you have video, add that. Add as much text information as possible, too, with, of course, the important keywords. Depending on the system, you may also be able to post coupons or promotions.
You'll have to verify your business listing of course, using either phone or postcard verification. You might also try to get a few of your customers to post glowing reviews about your business. Reviews alone are not enough to get you to rank highly in local search results, but they certainly can't hurt. One critical factor in how well you rank is geographic location. If you serve a city area but your geographic location is on the outskirts of the city, you're at a real disadvantage. Depending on the size of the city and the competition, you may find yourself completely blocked out of the local listings for that city.
Some businesses have decided this is such a big problem that they found locations closer to the center of the areas they serve. How else can you get your listing to rank well in the local results? Creating links to your web site is important, as the search engines use that to rank not only your site in the organic listings, but also your business entry in the local listings. I would also recommend that you use ubl.org to submit your information to other directories. These guys submit to Google, Yahoo, and Bing, which you're going to do manually anyway, but they also submit the data to sites such as Address.com, CitySearch, Insider Pages, Local Matters, around 150 other places. You can submit for an annual fee of $39, which is well worth it.
You'll get links from these systems back to your site, the major search engines will see those links, and in some cases listings from these directories will turn up in the major search engine's search results too. I think all you really need is the basic $39 package, which is hidden away a little. Go into the Packages page. Then scroll down to find this link here. Many businesses focus on their web sites and ignore their local listings, but that's a huge mistake that could cost you dearly.
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