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What is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?
SEO is improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site or page from the search engines using natural organic and algorithmic search results (SERPs).

SEO is actually a component of SEM (Search Engine Marketing). Which encompasses many avenues with which to promote a web site or page.
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September 11, 2007

GEOTargeting and Local Business Vertical Search

GEOTargeting is the king of vertical searches. There are more independent directories and engines out there to do the work for you than you could have ever imagined. Many will pick you up without you doing anything except properly announcing your location! Even if you intend to do your business on a global scale, ignoring your local flavor can be a huge mistake. So today we are going to cover some easy submission and mechanical things you can do to elicit a better local response. I even have a few cool tools from some great places to help you along.

Lets start with your hosting and Domain selection. It's hard but not impossible to rank well in say the US with a German Domain. If you already have this situation, just purchase the .com for example and use a 301 redirect to the existing site..This should definitely be in English, if it's not then go ahead and make an English version on the new .com Domain (this is NOT duplicate content). When choosing hosting, you want to be in the same region as your business ideally. The same country for sure. So in a situation like I used above, just contact a US hosting company and procure some US hosting. This is going to have it's limits when it come to physical address later if you do not have a US operations location, however.

Meta tag GEOTargeting. I really cannot say for certain how effective this is or isn't. I really see no harm in it however, as there are still quite a few smaller Meta engines out there.

You'll notice in both the state and country code you want to use all versions of the name. Don't forget to close these for other markup languages, this is a HTML 4.01 example.

On page GEOTargeting has some very vast reaching possibilities. There are many things you can do to help this along. SEOMoz suggests your address should be in the header or the footer, I agree after giving this some thought. Not because it cannot be found anywhere else, but rather because it has become universally expected there. There is a way to make that address pop, however. I credit this little trick to a friend of mine from the UK, Darren Lovelock owner of Munky Online Web Design. He taught me to wrap addresses in a CSS or HTML address tag. I don't think it's at all necessary to list your complete street address if for example, you work from your home.

Using maps and directions for GEOTargeting. This is a very good thing to do if you have a place of business. It provides a useful service to your patrons, and generally good GEOTargeting content for the search engines. Remember to include some textual content surrounding the map or directions to receive the greatest benefit from this option.

Targeting your region or metro area. Regional and metro area names can be very powerful longtail and local vertical search components. For example, folks in the Detroit, Michigan area might use a little "Motor City" or "Downriver" in their content, title, and some heading tags. I am in Northeast, Ohio. So I might target "NEO", and Northeast, Ohio", they hit pretty well vertically. If you are just getting started, without making an 80 foot long Domain name, targeting your region might be a good option for you also. You might try this on a state level, many successful "Buckeye" businesses out there, but the broader the spectrum the longer and harder the climb in the search ranks. I am in no way saying it is not worth the effort, just noting it so you are aware.

Local directory power and phone book type listings. There are a few local directories you really should look into.

  1. Yahoo Local: Your business must be in the US. You must have/get a Yahoo ID. You must include, but can hide your street address. Site must be in English. Cannot sell anything illegal. They have free and paid listings.
  2. Google Local: Your Business must be in the US. You must have/get a GMail ID. You must include street address and cannot hide it. You will be required to validate a phone number. A bonus here is the ability to make coupons for your business.
  3. Yelp: This one is suggested by SEOmoz. I have personally not used them. So we will learn together. They are a social business reviews and search able database site, a very large one at that. I would highly suggest you read this page and follow their instructions.
  4. Citysearch: This one also from SEOmoz. I don't know if this one will be in your budget. They are advertising 30$ off for your first month, while they are showing a PR 8 on my TB...That's alot of cash in my eyes. Seems this also covers a local Yellow pages listing...Which can be very expensive also for a premium listing. So if your were looking into a Yello pages deal you might consider the bundle.
  5. Other Directories: There are many local directories you can search for and find. Submitting to these follows the same guidelines as any other directory.
  6. 411 and Yellow Pages Sites: These are very costly investments for a deluxe or premium listing....Some are 250$ a month. I personally will NOT pay it. The ones I have had experience with refuse to disclose anything but rounded off page views and their sites are some of the worst examples of SEO you may ever encounter. I have not found any with a "put up or shut up" guarantee for traffic, and as a matter of fact they have ALL tried to sell me hosting too. OK, maybe I'm a little to cynical, but this straight pisses me off...For 250$ a month I should A) get real verified stats, and B) have some expected return on investment. So, they almost all have a FREE basic, listing...which will be most likely "nofollowed", but it may bring you a visit or 2 if you are interested. If you really seek a true Yellow pages listing, call your local telephone company.

Many local newspapers are online now, and this can be a great local marketing tool for your site. Be aware though that most newspapers and other news sources only keep links active for a couple of weeks. Try giving something away on a radio station. Many times, people will hear/see your business name and remember all or part of it...Or enough to search for, with a little vertical help.

Links from local sites will very much help flavor your local appeal. The very same rules apply to these links as any other. Here is a little guide to help you determine the value of incoming links, so you might know better what you seek. Remember, backlinks are NOT the whole story, picking up a great traffic link is just as good...If not better.

SEOmoz has a new tool to help you evaluate your GEOtargeting strength. Thanks to the folks at SEOmoz for today's inspiration and cool tool!

Peace and SEO

Melanie Prough

DIY Your SEO With The SEOCog
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