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    I used to think that online searchers are always looking for global results, since the Internet is not linked to a particular country or location. However, as I gradually observed the way people use search engines, I noticed that many of the search keywords contain geographical locations. When people look for restaurants, they usually include a location, say “Italian restaurant in Grenadine”.

    Localized search has definitely changed the way SEO companies deal with optimizing websites. Many retail shops, restaurants and other tourist destinations have already set up websites, and it’s just fitting that they are linked to a particular location on the globe. It’s really kind of logical; if you live in the Big Apple and you want to find the nearest Target store, then you head on to your favorite search engine and type “Target stores in New York”.

    Local SEO is perfect for small and medium-sized businesses who want their brand to be known within their location. For example, if you want your cupcake shop to be known as “THE cupcake shop destination” in your town, then you should configure your website’s SEO to make your pages achieve the higher echelons of Google rankings.

    Here are some great search engine optimization tips to ensure your success in local search:

    • Pinpoint accuracy on keyword research and placement. One of the first things that you should target is a great set of local keywords. Say you are a divorce attorney working in Phoenix, Arizona. Instead of using a generic keyword such as  “divorce lawyer”, make it a localized keyword like “Phoenix divorce lawyer”. Whatever you have chosen as your set of local focus keywords, make sure that they appear in your pages – meta description, title tags, page descriptions, and the like.
    • Post your website on top local business directory lists. You’ve probably seen a few local directory listings on search engines – Google Places and Yahoo! Local to name a few. If you’re planning to have your business appear on search results with connections to these localized listings, then the first thing you have to do is complete your business profiles on these sites. Head on to the directory listings and enter your company’s information as complete as possible. If you’re operating a physical store, it would be best to post images of your shop on the directories. Don’t forget to link your listing to your company website.
    • Look for people who are interested to review your business. Good reviews appear on search engines and increase your site clickability if they see many stars on your website links. Unfortunately, expecting customer participation to your SEO strategies might be too burdensome for them, so put extra effort in making things easier for your customers to leave online reviews. One way of doing this is to hand them a business card containing the link to the reviews page.

    I’m sure many companies have already observed the power of local SEO. It’s high time that you start thinking local as well.

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