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Customers Finding Local Businesses Online

By Virginia Lawrence

The major search engines have made tremendous improvements in their local search. Now when someone searches Google, Yahoo, AskJeeves, MSN, or A9, he can get good information about local businesses.

This step forward in local search is only the beginning. Yahoo and Google are already sending local information to our cell phones when requested. As a searcher, won’t it be great to use a cell to quickly find a nearby place to eat while driving through an unfamiliar city?

Of course, it will take a while before everyone figures out how to use the local searches by cell phone. But everyone can search locally today by going on the Internet and searching on Google, Yahoo, and MSN. This means we want to get our businesses well positioned for local search.

Here’s how to get listed in local search:

Optimize your Web site for local search. First we carry out the normal optimization for preferred keywords. Then we optimize for local search by placing the local address in text (not in a graphic) in strategic places on the Web site pages.

Confirm that your company is listed in your phone company’s yellow pages. Those yellow pages are one important source for the data used by many of the search engines.

Submit your site with full contact details to Yahoo Local, MSN Local, Google Local, and AskJeeves Local. One or more of these databases may contain a partial listing for your business. Be sure to update every detail of such listings.

Submit your site to Citysearch, SwitchBoard, InsiderPages, and other online yellow page databases.

After optimizing and submitting, pay attention to your local listings in the major search engines, and correct any mistakes as soon as possible. In the early months of local search listings, some businesses were incorrectly paired with links to Web sites belonging to wildly different businesses. You want to make sure that your listing comes up for appropriate local searches, and that your listing leads searchers directly to your Web site.

—© 2005 Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D. is a professional Web Developer and Online Marketing Consultant. She routinely places client sites on the first page of a Google search. Contact her at or visit her Web site at



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