When it comes to attracting and securing more customers through your website, local optimization for your website makes a lot of sense. You want to reach out to specific customers in your area, and at the same time those customers need products or services that are near their area as well. That’s what Google has been working on all these years—to give everyone search results that are relevant, specific, and localized—results that effectively bring businesses and customers together.
Google said so in its places for Business page: “97% of consumers search for local businesses online.”
In this increasingly multi-screen world, our goal then is to make your website visible to consumers wherever they are and whatever platform they’re using. localization
Localization and SEO Localization
First, let’s differentiate localization and SEO localization, since these two aren’t the same thing. Localization is translating your website content to the specific language of your targeted customers whether that’s French, Chinese, Spanish, German, etc. This is an important procedure because admittedly, not every visitor speaks and understands English well. Localization, of course, is not as simple as translating word for word. It should be done in context of the culture of a particular language.
The bottom line is you have to speak your client’s language if you want to be successful on the market(s) you are targeting. SEO Localization, on the other hand, is managing the SEO aspects of your web pages so that search engines in your targeted language(s) will acknowledge your website. That means keywords, key-phrases, titles, tags, anchor texts, script messages and other SEO attributes of your web pages should be translated accordingly to make them visible to search engines of that particular language.
Obviously, localization and SEO localization complement each other.
Identifying and Reaching Your Target Market
Before anything else, you should identify your local target market. Remember: not everyone is a prospective client, so it’s wise to narrow down SEO efforts according to the demographics of your existing client base. Instead of attempting to reach a broad global market, let’s make a focused analysis of your more profitable clients that are within your area of service.
Having identified your target market, the next task is to know their interests and needs. Accordingly, you have to use keyword research to know what your market needs and is interested in, and then create content for your website that meets those needs. Laura Lippay details a nice, effective strategy for catering to your target market in this article.
Geo-targeting means your website will be targeting customers from around your area. By using specific geographic keywords—names of the main city or town in which your business operates—you ensure that people in your region actually finds your business.
For businesses with physical stores such as coffee shops, vet clinics, flower shops, that sell products and services to a local areal, geo-targeting is without a doubt very important. But even if your businesses is the kind that sells online products and services globally, you can benefit from geo-targeting as well.
For instance, a web agency in Shanghai might cater to different client bases all over the world, but geo-targeting attracts customers in that region because prospective clients in Shanghai will want to use the services of a web design company near their area, not from somewhere far.
Creating Your Business Profile
Google encourages businesses to get listed both in Google Places and Google+ for maximum online visibility. The set up takes just a few minutes and it’s free. Because Google is trying to integrate all its services into our lives, you can be sure that clients can see you whether in Search, Maps, or Google+, and your website ranks higher in search results.
Before diving into, just make sure the important details about your business are complete, accurate and up-to-date. This information includes business address, location on the map, phone numbers, opening hours, payment method—with targeted keywords included of course. To stand out from the crowd, photos and videos can be included to your business listing too. One important thing however: creating customized descriptions for your business for each location works better than a single business profile.
Local Optimization Results
The good news is that local optimization greatly benefits websites and businesses. How so? As reported by Search Engine Land, a study carried out by digital agency SIM Partners found that basic local optimization resulted in a 179% boost in Google search rankings. (Simply getting listed in Google+ is one big step in achieving that.)
According to the study, there’s a six-to-nine month time frame however, which is just fine since that should realistically set client expectations. Also, you can’t rush Google to ensure high rankings for your website. It’s better to follow the natural flow of legitimate SEO optimization efforts rather than use quick SEO tactics at the expense of Google penalties.