Local Search: The Missing Link To Your Website

Ever searched for your city’s health clubs on the Internet?

You probably found nothing but generic directory sites stuffed with junk links and sleazy ads. If you were lucky, you spotted an actual health club website….only to find out that the Miami club you discovered is really in Florida – nowhere near your Miami, Ohio home.

That’s because less than 30% of small businesses have incorporated local search into their marketing plans. “Local search” describes Internet searches by prospective customers who want to find a given type of business in a given city.

You wouldn’t post a sign for your business in an alley. Yet failing to optimize your website for local search means that even people who search for a club or wellness center in your city probably won’t spot you.

Implement just one of these tips each month, and before long you’ll reap the benefits of better Internet visibility:

1) Make your website friendly to search engine “spiders”.

These spiders crawl websites gathering the information that search engines like Google and Bing use to create their indexes and provide search results to users.

Confirm with your web developer that your site has unique meta tags and keywords on every page. Use heading tags like to format headlines and sub-headings on every page.

2) Include key business location data on every page of your website.

Display your business name, street address with city, state and zip, and your business telephone number with area code on every page. Present this data as text, not embedded in images, because search engine spiders can’t “read” images.

3) List your business with all the major search engines and directories.

Look up your business in Google/Google Maps, Yahoo, Yelp, SuperPages, Bing, YellowPages, Switchboard and Citysearch. If you’re not listed – or the information is incomplete or incorrect – most of these sites allow you to submit or correct your listing yourself at no charge.

4) Encourage members to review your business online.

Google, Yahoo and Bing allow users to submit ratings of local businesses they’ve patronized. Businesses with more ratings tend to appear higher in search results. Avoid the temptation to “stuff the ballot box”. It’s easier to detect than you think and the search engines may demote your business in search results.

5) List your business on the websites of local organizations.

Examples include local civic groups, the Chamber of Commerce, tourism and convention bureaus, and more. Make sure they provide an actual link to your website. More inbound links to your site increase the chance that your club or fitness center will show up higher in search results.

6) Verify your listing information on local phone directory websites.

Simply confirm that it’s up-to-date.

7) Buy a paid online yellow pages listing for your health club or fitness center.

Most online yellow pages offer a free bare-bones listing. Consider upgrading to the one-page paid business profile that they also offer.

8) Confirm your whois address data for your website domain.

Your “whois” data (available at www.whois.net) should reflect your business address. Google and other search engines consider this data when deciding which results to serve up in response to local searches.

9) Trade links with other local businesses.

Increasing the number of inbound links to your website improves the likelihood that you’ll show up higher in search results. Don’t swap links with “link farms” that offer no local content of value. That can actually push your business down in search results.

10) List your business on vendor websites.

Check with your vendors and suppliers to see if they maintain a list of current customers on their websites. If so, make sure they include your wellness business. Just remember that they need to provide an actual link to your website, or the listing won’t affect local search results.

Implement just one of these tips each month, and before long your wellness business will reap the benefits of better Internet visibility.

 

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