If you live in an apartment or condo complex, take a walk out to your mailboxes.  See if there aren’t about a dozen unwanted chunks of bound paper sitting there in yellow plastic bags – waiting sadly for an owner who will never come.    These are the Yellow Pages – a once proud service that has lost its prominent place in American life.

It’s not an understatement to say that Google and Yahoo! are the new Yellow Pages.  Although space in the big printed book continues to demand top dollar, more people than ever now get online when they need vital information about local services and businesses.

If you’re going to reach these potential customers, it is important to start paying attention to your ranking in local search and your presence within the biggest customer review sites.

SEO with a local flavor

When someone need a plumber, they are likely to search on a keyword combination that features both their location and the type of business they are seeking.   So if you fix clogs in the City of Angeles, you should optimize your site to feature keywords such as “Los Angeles Plumber” or “LA plumbing”

While these keywords may not generate high levels of traffic individually, taken together they create a formidable amount of traffic.  And you can rest assured that those who DO use them are a very qualified lead for your business.

Keep up with your Reviews

Take the time to track down all the major review sites for your area.  Most commonly, local reviews can be found at Yelp and Google Local.  Monitor your reviews every day and do the following:

  • Don’t just look at the positive ones. Positive feedback is a fine feather in anyone’s cap, but it is less-than-favorable reviews that provide real insight into how your customers view your business.
  • Respond to every review. Say “thank you” to those who write up a nice mention of their experience with your company. Talk to the people who write negative reviews as well. Open up a dialogue with these people to try and find out why they are unhappy.
  • Reach out to negative reviewers. Make a concerted effort to get negative reviewers to come back and give your business another chance. Create a special offer just for them. By showing that you are concerned about their customer satisfaction, everyone who sees the site will see that you are interested in providing the best levels of service.

By maintaining content with relevant geo-specific keywords and enhancing the trust level of your business through responding to customer reviews, you will be in a better position to own your target area online.  And as for the Yellow Pages…anyone need a good paperweight?

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