Written by Richard Getz on April 22, 2012
Like many companies, SEOs start out small, in their local neighborhood, and grow out from there. You are more localized until you build up your reputation, at which time you can grow beyond your smaller geocircle. So how is helping small to medium businesses rank in their trading area different than ranking nationally? Local SEO is the answer.
What is easier about ranking national is that there is less keyword spanning. You are only trying to rank for product/service/price, not product/service/price/location. However, that is where the easy stops. It is much harder to build national rankings as there is more competition for your keywords, less organic space (50 companies with all metrics equal, and there are still only 10 spots on page 1 of Google), and therefore much more effort building backlinks, and you have to build stronger backlinks.
Local SEO on the other hand has less competition in the same space. Searching Electrician locally by State, City, or county is far less difficult than nationally. With that said, I believe there is more involved in local search. You are most likely unknown and need to get established. Website is probably some $10 template they purchased which can't be used. You have local citations to build which includes more than SuperPages.com. There might be a few small business directories in your area that you have to find and get listed in.
What is most often forgotten are the local blogs, forums, and neighboring websites that you need to get links from. These can be easier to obtain as they should know your business or your client's business. If these are for a client, have them call or send the email as speaking to the guy down the street is far better than some marketing person that may not even be from that State. When you business is involved in local events, get a backlink from that even's website. You can get links from the local swim club, or the little league your business sponsors. If you donate to local charities, acquire a backlink. Post in local forums and entertainment sites. Getting these local backlinks are very important to local SEO.
When you do this, also keep in mind local advertising. Some of the websites you come across might not give a link for free, but you might be able to buy a banner or text link, and usually much cheaper as well. Just make sure that add link is a followed link.
Let us not overlook the elephant in the room; Google Places. Without a doubt, Google Places should be the first place you start when building local organic rankings. To do this, register for Google Places, and have your address listed textually on every page and in the Title of the contact page.
On-page optimizing efforts include using keywords that are local. Mention places, areas, and streets that are local to you. "On the corner of 52 and 805", "next to the Sprint building in San Diego", and references like this will act as another indicator to Google to where you are at. You don't have to do this on every page, or should you overuse local keywords to stuff them in, however, when appropriate, use local distinct objects, rather than vague descriptions. Remember, Google does own the largest map, so they know what these objects and locations are.
The driving point home is when you want to rank local, think local. Putting together an information packet for your client on how to think local will certainly benefit them and their rankings.