Understanding Local Search from Pittsburgh PA to Pittsbug KS

Many of our clients (and readers) are concerned with getting traffic and buyers from throughout the United States or from all over the world.  An increasing number of small businesses, larger locally-based organizations, and huge conglomerates with multiple brick-and-mortar locations are starting to realize just how powerful search engine marketing can be for their local markets.

I think we’ve talked quite a bit about the geo-targeting capabilities of pay per click accounts like Google AdWords (although it bears repeating that you can draw any kind of coverage map you’d like, including picking a 20-mile radius around your physical location).  And while the ability to place AdWords ads within local business listings is potentially interesting, that option is still in beta for folks in the San City Twins (San Francisco and San Diego).

What we’ve been somewhat remiss in discussing (at least me, maybe not Paul as much) is local SEO.  So, whether you’re looking for a Pittsburgh SEO firm or to rank in Pittsburg, Kansas, this article will explain a bit about how the process works.  Many of these same principles work in other countries as well as we’ve used them on clients in the UK and Germany, but let’s focus here on the good ol’ U.S. of A. for simplicity’s sake.  Learn more after the jump.

Local Business Listings Can Put You on the Map

Each search engine has its own form of local business listings to index and call attention to organizations of all sizes in their local towns or cities.  Each is cleverly named: Google Local Business Listings, Yahoo! Local Listings, and bing Local Listings.  Got that?  I can wait until you’ve had time to digest.  Good?  Good.

You’ve already seen these when you’ve done any kind of geographic search:

Here’s your ‘What’s Interesting about that Picture’ quiz.*  The pay per click ads are at the top, but then what’s next?  The map, or Google Local 7-Pack as it’s known fondly in some circles.  10-pack sounded a lot better, but then the big G had to change the number of listings.

*Having kids allows you to experience things you hadn’t thought about in years.  Like Highlights magazine.  If I’m sitting with the buckaroos at the doctor’s office, and assuming I’m not playing with those shape roller coasters, I’ll open up that magazine and immediately flip to the ‘What’s different between these two pictures’ page.  For my kids, obviously.  It’s not like I sit there and time myself in my head as I see how many I can find.  And the kids danged well better not spot a difference before me or that magazine’s going to end up in the fish tank!

What that means: you may have a perfectly optimized site and rank #1 for your most important geographic term, but still not get first crack at searchers in the organic section.  That’s because…

Local SEO Plays by Its Own Rules

Local search results utilize their own formula.  Some of the ranking factors are the same as your daddy’s Web search, but many are different or weighted differently.  Just like Web search, the search engines may pick up your site without your doing anything, but you have the opportunity to claim this listing (or create a new one) and own another piece of the Web like you would with a twitter or LinkedIn profile.

While local SEO is becoming big business in many industries and locales, it still presents a huge opportunity for many of you to better compete against the big boys in your local market.  Plus – you don’t even need to have a Web site to have a local business listing (although it helps your local search optimization efforts tremendously).

If you’d like to learn more about local SEO, please give us a call at 800.979.3177.  We have packages available for organizations ranging from pizza shops on tight budgets to national law firms with multiple physical presences.  In some instances, value packages with small one-time fees are available.  So call now – operators are standing by.  Unless it’s night time, in which case we’re sleeping, but will call you back first thing the next business day.

Justin Seibert

About The Author

Justin Seibert is the President of Direct Online Marketing. Justin holds a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University. He contributes a wide range of online business-oriented topics, including the subject of exporting. His contributions can be found on publications such as the Pittsburgh Business Times, Advertising Age, SES Magazine, and La Voz del interior. Justin and his family enjoy learning about new cultures during their travels.

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