Local Search Pays Off, Naturally

When your customers are right around the corner, you don’t need your pay-per-click ads seen half-way around the world. For example, when you’re a Boston-based florist offering online ordering, it’s not necessary to have a top position in search results every time someone searches for “online florists.” For the majority of small and mid-size, locally-focused businesses, your target market is more defined than everyone living
everywhere. With local search strategies for both pay-per-click advertising (PPC) and natural search engine optimization, you can refine your search marketing program, cut costs and grow your business.


Get Paid Locally

Local strategies in PPC provide marketers with a superior ability to reach a more targeted audience. The message reaches an audience that’s able to respond with no wasted resources talking to the masses just to reach the few. You can set your ads to appear only to people searching in a city, state or region, or bid on geo-targeted keyword phrases to target locally and cut your PPC costs. Your ads will appear when a person searches geo-specific keyword phrases, and you’ll benefit from lower bid prices than you get from broad or general keywords with more competition. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Regionally defined keywords will keep your ads within your target region and still reach a large audience. This strategy works well for larger ecommerce businesses and/or branding campaigns.

  • Set your ads to appear in a specific city or use specific geo-targeted keywords to restrict your ads to consumers in a smaller, defined area. Try this if you have an ecommerce site and a brick-and-mortar store. You can increase sales online and off by targeting consumers that can also visit your off-line locations.

  • Take a look at some of the vertical search engines that work for your business. There is often a fee for listings in these directories but, the investment can pay off if it’s a quality site with an audience that fits your business.

The Natural Solution

When a searcher includes a geo-specific keyword in their search (“Chicago restaurants” for example), Google typically displays ten local search results at the top of the page, and Yahoo! will often display the top user-rated local businesses for a local search. Results from sites like, Citysearch and other local sites consistently appear in the top local search results. Optimizing for local search opens up those top positions to your business. Getting started is simple and can be done for little or no cost.

  • Create your free listing with Google Local Business. Your business listing will have you appearing on Google Maps for relevant searches in your area. These local listings also appear at the top of the Google search results for many keyword searches that include a geographic qualifier.

  • Make sure you have accurate listings on aggregate data sites like and These sites provide information for search engines, online yellow pages, local sites such as Citysearch and AOL City Guides and online mapping sites like Google Maps. Update these listings as often as needed.

  • Check listings for accuracy on directory sites such as, and If you’re not listed, create your listing right away.

Become Locally Known

With a few simple ideas to get you started, you have the opportunity to grow your brand and your bottom-line with local search. The tools and strategies outlined here can get you started on your own.

Lisa Wehr
Lisa Wehr
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