Although the Internet has a universal reach and is in and of itself a very global entity, this is not necessarily the same for your local business. Having an online presence that can reach the world is certainly impressive, but if your business is located locally, is a global reach really necessary?
If you’re business is exclusively a virtual store or ecommerce site, then you don’t need customers from Los Angeles anymore than you need costumers from Dallas. But if you’re a local business, location is one of the most defining factors when you’re targeting an audience and attempting to generate leads.
Ultimately, you want qualified leads, traffic you know will convert to clients, and the way to do this is with SEO and advertisements geared for local searches. As a local business, the local leads you generate are far more valuable then any national leads you may generate. Why? Because these leads are more likely to actually visit your business and purchase your services or products than someone halfway across the country.
With nearly 2 billion local online searches every month, it is important to optimize your site for local searches in order to take advantage of this huge reservoir of leads.
It used to be that in order for local businesses to appear on major search engine results pages, a web user had to type in their location as well as the services or businesses they were looking for. Now however, Google knows where you’re searching from—thanks to your IP address—and will narrow your search results by location almost automatically, whether you searched “florists in Los Angeles” or simply “florists.” A slightly eerie concept, but one that can be used to your advantage.
Optimizing your site to appear in the local search results is very similar to traditional SEO. Targeting the right keywords for your local audience is essential, as is linking, quality content, meta tags, and descriptions. With local businesses, however, it’s also important to make sure that your company is listed in all the online directories, like Google Places, and that your description, categories, and any other relevant information is tailored to get you better visibility and more leads from people in your area.