Try this: Do a Google search on “web design.” You will almost certainly see search results that include web design firms from your very own city, without having typed in its name. Even businesses that don’t rely on a brick-and-mortar retail presence are discovering the need to think about SEO in a local context:

  • Users increasingly use geographic keywords
  • Search engines prioritize “local” options when available
  • Google has increased space for local results, pushing traditional results down
  • Local listings catch mobile maps app users
  • Users trust local listings over traditional SEO results

Unless you are truly a national company, you, too, can benefit from the following 5 tips to improve your web design and your local online presence.

#1 – Optimize your page titles

Page titles are the words that appear at the top of your browser or browser tab. They are also the title you see in the list of websites on search results pages. You want your most important keywords included in those titles as search engines rely heavily on them to deliver results:

  • Put most important keywords at the beginning of the title
  • Add the name of your business’s city to the titles
  • Make each title (and meta description tag) on your site unique to that page

If you are a business that does commercial photography in the Richmond, VA area, you might use a series of title tags like: Medical Practice Richmond VA; Cardiology Medical Practice Richmond VA; Pediatric Urgent Care Richmond VA; etc.

#2 – Put an address on every page

Including your complete address on every page – usually in the header, footer, or sidebar – will disclose your location to search engines and reinforce your local presence to potential clients.

#3 – Link within content on your website

A search engine uses link text to help it understand what a site is about and where a business lives. You can help the search engine by linking within your own site using link text keywords that are important to you.

#4 – Claim local profiles

To build a strong local presence, you will also have to step outside your own site’s web design. Your first step is to claim local listings in relevant online directories and citation sources.

  • Google Places and Google+ Local - Businesses should claim their listing so they can more easily:
    • Be found on Google Maps
    • Appear in local search results
    • Solicit reviews
  • Yahoo Local
  • Facebook
  • MerchantCircle
  • Yelp
Research directories that offer you the most relevant audience then fill out your company information. Hint: SEO experts recommend typing your company name, address, descriptions, etc. as similarly as you can in all directories. Add images and logos for appeal.

#5 – Solicit local links

Associating your site with other sites that search engines already recognize as nearby is a great way to teach them where you are. Here are just a few ideas for how solicit local links:

  • Add your URL to chamber of commerce or local business groups listings
  • Ask business partners, vendors, and local clients for links
  • Guest blog
  • Ask for links when making charitable donations


How does Google offer local results without typing in a city name? It collects evidence about users through cookies, IP address, and account information, then customizes results. A business that does not make the effort to create a local presence, through link building and optimized web design, can miss valuable impressions on every keyword.

At Whittington Consulting, a Richmond, VA digital marketing firm, we work with clients to ensure their website is designed for usability and optimized for search engines.

How to attract and sell to more customers using your website