Starting Your SEO business: Tapping into Local Business with Local Search Tools


Two important things come together that make local business a great opportunity for finding SEO clients. First, there are tons of local search tools and directories (online) that are used by millions of people every day to find local shops and services. Second, most local businesses have no idea about most or all of these tools and directories. A good way to start or grow your SEO business right now is to approach local businesses with your expertise and know-how of these local search tools, and how to get them listed and start getting traffic.

Let’s go through local search engines and PPC together, to help you know what to say and do for your new clients.

Local Search Engines and Directories

As we discussed last week about getting new clients, the first place to start is to start a list of local businesses you want to approach. Pick businesses that would have a clientele that could potentially find them via search, and choose 5-12 of them. You’ll need to do some prep work for each one, including making a keyword list and checking rankings, as well as some investigation into their status (are they listed??) in the local search engines. You may want to provide a simple report that shows them some keywords, any rankings, and a list of local search engines and directories and a big NO if they don’t have a listing (my guess is most won’t, depends on your area of course). The next part is to educate your client.

By being listed in local search engines, a local business can easily be found through both local search and regular search (like Search engines like Google will often integrate local search into their search results. It is thought that 10-20% of searches actually use “local modifiers” such as a city, state, or region. Most of us are probably pretty computer savvy, but even for those less savvy, the search engines are becoming our address book, our yellow pages, and our map. If I want to find a plumber, it takes less time for me to get to Google and search for one, even if its just the phone number, than to pick up a phone book and thumb through it. Plus, I get a map and a website (if any) which is an extra step if you’re just hitting a phone book. Take the opportunity to get this into their heads, as more and more this is how everyone is going to find them.

The local search engine relationship chart can give you a good idea of who the main players are in local search. infoUSA and Acxiom are the two main sources for other local search engines, so having a listing with both of these companies is vital to local search exposure. You can also list individually with other local search engines (read on for links). Two companies make it easier to manage your information in these listings and also directly with local engines: Relevant Ads and Register Local. You can manage your listings separately for less, it just takes a bit more time.

Here are some quick links to a few of the main local engines:

Yahoo! local listing
Google local listing
TrueLocal local listing

Offering other Services

Just because you are doing SEO does not mean you can’t offer other services, such as web design, content writing, and PPC management. You may find that most of these local businesses have done nothing, so they are starting from scratch. If you can package multiple services together, not only do you have a more complete solution that maximizes your SEO strategy, but it’s almost like getting two clients for the sales work of getting one. If you don’t have other complementary skills, then you’ll want to make some business relationships with other trusted individuals or companies that provide such services. By offering multiple services you can offer a complete service that truly accomplishes the goals of SEO. Worst case is they just want to focus on one part of it right now.

Targeted Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Local businesses can benefit very quickly by a targeted PPC campaign. Even if you don’t do PPC (pay-per-click) advertising right now, it is something you can learn in a few days to a few weeks (not necessarily being a super expert in that short of time, but good enough to go on). PPC advertising is a multi-billion dollar industry. Why? Because people use Google and Yahoo! as a dictionary, encyclopedia, white pages, yellow pages, and address book (and many more things). One of the features of PPC advertising is local market targeting. You can pick regions and cities where your ads should be displayed, to market your site just to those specific areas. This, coupled with an SEO strategy, will give a jump start to your new client to gaining the traffic, branding, and traction.

Local search is an exciting and growing area of search marketing, and now is a great opportunity to find companies, even in your own backyard, that are in need of SEO for their business.

For more reading, here’s a great article about local search.

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