Now that so many businesses are looking for new customers online, the global marketplace has become very competitive. If you have a product or service that you can deliver worldwide, it probably makes sense to not be concerned with localization. However, when you consider how many companies are optimizing for those same keywords globally, you have a very large SEO obstacle to overcome. Now compare that with how many companies are using those keywords locally. Obviously, that number is going to be a lot smaller. Although your local market may not be your entire market, it is a much more obtainable SEO goal since Google prefers to show website searchers companies near them, assuming they’re more relevant. You can always expand your SEO strategy down the road, but at least start locally so you can achieve page one rankings without investing a fortune.

Localize with Area Keywords

Localizing, in terms of SEO, does not mean simply listing your locations. Many people make the mistake of cramming all of the areas they service into the last paragraph of each page, and this does not help. Instead, your area keywords need to be matched with your product or service keywords. Also, that area should be within two words of the product or service mention with no punctuation in between. Check out these right and wrong examples:

Wrong SEO Localization

“We serve Portland, Gresham, Hood River, and Vancouver.”
There are no product or service keywords attached to these areas, so Google doesn’t know what you’re selling in these locations.

“If you live in Portland, our SEO experts are here to help.”
The area and service is separated by a comma and thus they don’t help each other. This is considered a “stop” or separation point in the eyes of Google’s web crawlers.

“Find SEO experts in Portland, Gresham, and Hood River.”
This actually works for optimization for Portland, but Gresham and Hood River get excluded because of the commas and because they are too many words away from the keywords.

Right SEO Localization

“We offer SEO services in Portland.”
This works because the area is just one word away from the service keywords.

“Our Portland and Gresham SEO experts can help you increase traffic to your website.”
Both Portland and Gresham are optimized here because they are just two words away from the service keywords. If they were any farther away, it wouldn’t work.

If you are trying to optimize your site for your location, be sure not to over optimize. Try to get your location in at least one time per webpage. Ideally, get it into a section heading and into a paragraph. Any more than that is probably unnecessary. Also, your entire site does not need to be localized. Just make sure it’s included on your most important product/service landing pages.

Publish Regionally Relevant Content

Just as you need to add original and relevant SEO content to your site for your product and service optimization, the same is true for your localization. Every now and then, publish a blog that focuses on a topic relevant to your area. You could highlight a local client story, create a press release, or explain how your products or services benefit your community. Make sure your localization gets into the title and once or twice in the body and/or subheadings of the blog. If you serve more than one location, don’t try to optimize for all of them at once. Forcing it will only hurt your ranking. Rotate through locations and build up optimization for each gradually – naturally. This goes for your multimedia alt tags as well. They too can help with localization.

Claim Your Google Place Listing

If you have a store front or office you want people to visit, make sure it’s showing up on Google Maps. To do this, simply go to Google Places for Business and fill out your profile. This will also allow you to get Google reviews. The more reviews you get, the better your ranking will be. You can also embed the Google map showing your location on your site to make it easier for people to get directions. Connecting your site and Google Place to your Google Plus account will also help. This allows you to qualify for Google+ Local reviews, yet another way to rank.

When building a site from the ground up, we often focus on getting the basic industry content optimized first, then we add city-specific localization. After this, we begin expanding outward to surrounding communities, then the state, then the region, etc. You can take this as far as you want to sell, but as you add more locations, it will be more difficult to maintain relevance and to keep the SEO for each location current. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Focus on the most important service areas, and when you achieve page one rankings for local search results, you should see more than enough traffic to keep you busy.