Ask An Expert: How Can I Target New Customers Using Local Optimization?

For many small businesses looking to expand, the question of how to target online customers in the local geographic market arises.  You may be unsure of where to start, and the process can quickly become overwhelming.

However, the optimizing for your local customers may not be as difficult as you would think.  Below are 6 steps you can follow to enhance your local marketing efforts:

#1 – Keyword Research
Thorough planning is the best way to begin any strategy, and online marketing always starts with keyword research.  To do your own, simply research industry-specific terms plus geo-targeted terms.  If you are an auto dealer in Chicago, for example, research the term “Chicago auto dealer.”  Then, replace the word “Chicago” with the names of surrounding suburbs.

#2 – On-Page SEO
The next aspect of the local optimization practice to attack is your on-page SEO.  Don’t worry, this isn’t nearly as difficult as it sounds!  Be sure your primary keywords appear in both the META title and description tags.  Also ensure you have your physical address and phone number on all pages of your website.  If you have multiple locations, ensure to create a specific page on your website for each one.

#3 – Off-Page optimization
This type of optimization simply refers to performing SEO on places outside of your own website.  One of the most important things to do is to make sure you have a listing in the most popular local business directories, with Google Places being the most important.  Next, make sure your listing has multiple positive user reviews.  Not only does this improve your results in the rankings, but it also creates a positive first impression on people accessing your listing.

#4 – Link building
The link building process is one of the most important for increasing your rank for your targeted keywords.  Talk with other local companies in your industry who are not competitors, bloggers, and local events hosts and tell them why having your link on their page will benefit their site’s visitors.

#5 – Social Media
With more than 900 million users on Facebook alone, social media sites can be a  sensational business-to-consumer marketing tool.  Create a Facebook page, but be sure to tell Facebook you are a local business during the setup process.  Invite your friends and become a fan of other related, but not competing, local businesses.

#6 – Get in the Mindset of Your Customers
What do you think your customers would search for on Google?  Perhaps you own an Italian restaurant in Minneapolis, MN.  Will your customers be searching for generic phrases such as “Italian restaurant Minneapolis”?  Perhaps, but they are also likely searching for phrases such as “best italian restaurant Minneapolis” or “top 10 restaurants Minneapolis”.  As a business owner is can be easy to get caught up in popular keywords.  While keywords are important, it is also important to consider the end user, your customer.

There are many more tips and tactics for optimizing for local optimization but hopefully this short list will give you an idea of where to begin when seeking out new customers for your company.