If your business is small, or in a static location such as a shop, and you want to attract local customers to your website then you need to take advantage of local search engine optimisation techniques.

97% of consumers search for local businesses online*

The opportunity for local search is huge. Local search has now started to dominate the search listings as Google tries to personalise results to a user’s location. In many cases the regular search results are not even appearing above the fold. So if you are not in the local search database, you won’t get found. Google Search results for St Albans garages There are thousands of online directories and websites that offer guides to local businesses. Sometimes this information is taken from telephone directories so you might find your business is already included on a particular website. But don’t forget to refine the information they have about you. Some directories let you add a logo, opening times, information on what you do and what you sell and collate reviews from customers. This is a great opportunity to add in your relevant keywords.

The search engines themselves also have their own local search directories. Google Places is a free directory listing allowing you to add photos, videos and offers. The Google Places dashboard lets you see what keywords your visitors are searching for to find your listing – if you can understand more about your visitors you can tailor your offering to their needs. Yahoo and Bing offer similar local directories:

http://www.google.com/places/ Link opens in new window http://uk.local.yahoo.com/ Link opens in new window http://www.bing.com/local/ Link opens in new window

Google Adwords lets you select the location to specific towns such as St Albans If you’re using paid search, Google Adwords allows you to select the specific area that you want your advert to appear in, whether that is a whole town, county or a radius out from a particular location.

6 tips for local search

  1. Add your location or town to the title tag of your website The title tag is found in the code at the top of your website. You should be able to alter this within your content management system. Or you might have to request that your web designer alters it for you if you don’t have a CMS. For example, SEO Agency St Albans Company Name.
  2. Add your address and phone number to every page This has great usability benefits as well as making it clear to Google where you are based.
  3. Give your location on the home page Make sure you include your location keywords on your home page, for example, Wonderful Web is a web design agency based in St Albans, Hertfordshire and we provide….
  4. Claim and optimise your Google Places listing Use your keywords throughout your Google Places listing. Provide as much information as possible. Don’t forget the Yahoo and Bing local search directories.
  5. Ask people for reviews The local search engines often use reviews to determine ranking so get your customers to rate you. Put a link on your website to a local directory where you are collating reviews and ask your customers face to face if they wouldn’t mind reviewing you.
  6. Linkbuilding Get your listing in as many local directories and websites as possible. Many of them contain ‘noFollow’ attributes which means that their links won’t count towards your inbound linking strategy but these sites are great for increasing your exposure and you might find that your directory page ranks higher in the search results than your own website.

Seek out links in the following places: – Chambers of commerce/local business groups – Local business directories/local newspaper sites – Friends who have sites – Partners and clients Check out Wagada’s local SEO service.

*https://accounts.google.com/ServiceLogin?service=lbc&continue

The Royal National Institute for the Blind has started legal proceedings against low cost airline BMIBaby over the failure to make its website accessible to those with disabilities.

BMIbaby website - sued by RNIB for inaccessibility issuesThe website is currently impossible to use by the blind, partially sighted and those navigating without the use of a mouse. The issues were initially flagged up in 2010 when BMIBaby sought expert advice and recommendations on how to make its website accessible to screen readers, used by those with sight loss. However, the company has since made very little progress in its accessibility initiative, prompting RNIB’s action this week.

Hugh Huddy, RNIB Campaigns Officer for Inclusive Society, said: “Blind and partially sighted customers deserve to have access to the best online prices and flight information, just as any customer of BMIBaby does. Why should those with sight loss risk missing out on a web-only deal or be forced to ring a call centre simply because companies are failing to take accessibility standards seriously?”

The web is a fantastic medium which can give those with disabilities an enormous degree of freedom and independence. However, websites must be designed with accessibility in mind for all sectors of the population to benefit.

The 1999 amendment to the Disability Discrimination Act stated that all website owners were legally obliged to make reasonable adjustments to their websites. This has since been replaced by the 2010 Equality Act but owners are still responsible for ensuring that their websites adopt accessibility standards.

In the UK , no website owners have yet been sued for poor accessibility. However, RNIB has started legal  proceedings with two high profile brands in the past. These 2 cases were both settled out of court and the companies retained their anonymity.

The RNIB has proved in the past that it prefers to assist companies to improve their accessibility, rather than calling on the law to prosecute infringers. However it seems this time that it has lost patience with BMIBaby. It remains to be seen whether BMIBaby will respond in a positive way and make the necessary changes, or if the case will run its full course. Watch this space!

For more information on the laws surrounding inaccessible websites, read Wagada’s article.

If you want to know if your website has accessibility issues, contact Wagada.

Read the full press release from the RNIB here Opens in new window