While promoting your practice’s site directly with the Google, Bing and Yahoo is the primary focus of the Local Search Jump Start program, it is worthwhile to start off on your home turf to make sure that your website is as friendly to local search traffic as possible. In most cases, this is a fairly simple project that requires a minimal amount of research and a little bit of tweaking to the content of your site. The three main areas that we will be focusing on in this module include:

  • Researching Geographically Optimized Long Tail Keywords
  • Implementing These Keywords in Your Site’s Content and Metadata
  • Building a Network of Local Inbound Links

Long tail keywords are keyword phrases that typically consist of three to five words that target internet users who are searching for very specific information or services. Long tail keywords may not attract the same volume of traffic as a broader keyword campaign, but they are much more effective at bringing in traffic from visitors who are likely to respond to your site’s call to action. At the same time, long tail keywords are typically far less competitive than the general keyword phrases associated with most professional services.

The easiest way to find the right long tail keywords for your local search marketing campaign is to spend a little bit of time using a keyword research tool like Google Adwords, WordTracker or WordStream. Begin by entering some of the most common keywords associated with your profession along with the name of your city, county or region. The long tail keywords that appear in your results may be wide open or fairly competitive depending on your location and your practice’s niche. Either way, try to find a couple of relevant local keyword phrases that receive a promising amount of monthly traffic and are not already dominated your competition.

Next, review your practice’s website and look for opportunities to incorporate these keywords into your content and metadata. The best place to begin is by inserting your most promising long tail keyword in the meta description of your site itself. The meta description is the short introduction that appears beneath your link in search results, and search engines give a great deal of priority over the keyword terms that appear in this field. Your long tail keywords should also be included in the content of your homepage and the description of your actual services. These keywords do not need to appear more than one or two times per page, and it is important to try to use them as naturally as possible.

Although link building is an aspect of local search marketing that many SEO consultants overlook, having a few inbound links from respected local websites is an excellent way to improve your site’s ranking. A good place to start is to find out what types of hyper-local websites cover businesses and services in your area. Search for queries like “(city/county) blog” or “(city/county) news” and see what pops up. If you strike gold, try to figure out how you can earn a direct link from their site.

Along a similar note, make sure that your practice is listed properly on major review sites like Yelp and CitySearch. Even if your business has already been listed and reviewed on these sites, it’s likely that you will need to update the listing with a direct listing to your website. This is also a good opportunity to include other content such as photos and directions that will help you stand out when potential clients are using these sites to research local businesses.