A lot of local businesses invest a lot of time and energy on social media, without seeing any results. They would be better off focusing on search engine marketing. Search engine marketing allows you to reach users that are actively looking for the products and services you or your client are offering.

However, running a successful search engine marketing campaign for a local business isn’t easy. You can’t follow the same template that you would use for an ecommerce business. Here are some important differences that you need to be aware of for both local SEO and search PPC campaigns.

Add Cities Outside Your Market to Your Negative Keyword List on PPC Campaigns

When you are running an AdWords campaign, the first thing that you will do is target your ads to the cities that you are operating in. However, this isn’t enough to ensure your ads are shown to the right people. Even people within that area may sometimes be looking for services in another area.

For example, a San Francisco resident may be trying to buy a house in Cheyenne, Wyoming. They will use search terms such as “Cheyenne WY real estate agent.” You don’t want to have your ads shown to these users, because they won’t convert. Their impressions will only hurt your quality score and you will be charged if they click your ads.

Understand Co-citations with SEO

With local SEO, earning co-citations are at least as important as linkbuilding. It is important to build co-citations on as many quality sites as you can. Make sure all information matches the information on your website, including:

  • Company name
  • Address (including the zip code)
  • Phone number

You will be surprised how well your site will rank after building some co-citations.

Use Sites in Your Trade for Link building

Earning relevant links is very important. You should try building links from sites in a related field. Dr. Stephan Kuzmak is a dentist from Tows on that earned a link from a well-known dental website. His site has been ranking very well since.

The trick is choosing appropriate sites to earn backlinks from.

“Many dentists will hear that backlinks help with SEO. So they expect you to build links to their dental websites. The problem is, Google only counts links that are based on the merits of the message. When another website links to a dental website, it needs to convey to the reader that this is beneficial to them. This means that the crux of any dental SEO campaign is to have high quality, useful content which delivers a unique value to the readership of another website. We can’t expect other websites to link to our clients if they have a plain, ordinary message. You have to find their unique voice and offer something of unique value!” says Justin L. Morgan, a search specialist.

Find Local Sites to Generate Quality Links

Many local businesses use content marketing and other traditional linkbuilding strategies. While these strategies can be effective, you should focus on building links from local sites first. These sites are usually more relevant and haven’t been contaminated by black hat SEO linkbuilding teams.

Examples of sites you can use for local linkbuilding include:

  • Local news sites and magazines
  • Local business directories
  • Local professional groups (such as your nearest Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Groups)

You want to make sure you get both high-quality links and co-citations from these sites.

Don’t Be Too Repetitive with the City Names

When you are trying to optimize a website for a local region, you obviously need to make sure that the name of the city and state is listed. However, it is important not to overdo it. You should try to use it in the meta description, title tag and once or twice in the body of the content. There may be times when you need to use it more often to make a point, but don’t repeat it for SEO purposes.

Create Separate Landing Pages for Each City-Related Keyword in AdWords Campaigns

Local AdWords campaigns will obviously be targeting a lot of local phrases. It is a good idea to build separate landing pages for each localized keyword. For example, if you are targeting a campaign for the terms “Santa Monica dentist” and “Santa Barbara dentist”, you will want a different landing page for each. This will help improve your quality score.

Local Search Marketing Requires a Different Touch

Local search engine marketing is a great way to generate leads. If you are selling leads to local businesses, you can create a very lucrative business model. However, it is important to understand how search engine marketing is different for local businesses.