What is Local Search and Why is it Valuable?

Local search is a search engine created to focus on a specific geographic area. With a local search, users are able to use a directory-like format to select their location and category to narrow their results. Some local search engines, like Google Local, use the computer’s IP address to help narrow the search. For example, when you search for “car dealerships” in Google, your results will include a map showing the location of your results.

Brick and mortar stores can benefit greatly from local search sites. While you do not necessarily have to have a physical store, some local search sites do require it. With fewer and fewer people turning to phone books or 411 for information, the popularity of local search sites has grown. Don’t let your business miss out on the benefits of local search sites.

Many local search sites offer their services free to businesses. It is a mutually beneficial relationship. As more local businesses list their contact information on a local search site, the more the site gains credibility and traffic, resulting in more leads for the local business. It is a win-win situation. So how do you decide if a local search site is worth your time and energy?

First and foremost, you want sites that are active in your business area. Secondly, you want to be sure that they have a category established for your business. If the search engine you are investigating is focused on only one industry, it may not be valuable to you. As with any advertising venture, price is an issue. While most local search engines are free, some do charge. A free listing site is rarely a bad idea. If the search engine is requesting a fee, do your due diligence and investigate it thoroughly.

Traffic and SEO are two other important factors to consider. Spend the time to get the Alexa rating for the search engine in question. It will help you to get a feel for how busy the site is. Obviously the busier the better and the closer their ranking will be to 1. Checking the Google Page Rank for the site’s home page will help you to gauge the SEO benefits. You are looking for a ranking between 5 and 10; this will show you that they have some authority. Don’t forget to check the ranking for the page your listing will reside on. In order for the site to lend value to your SEO efforts, Google must be able to see the link.

Local search is a valuable tool for many businesses. Getting your company added exposure on a local search site is a great way to drive traffic to your site and your business.

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