Picture Yourself in Local Search Results

Consumers are increasingly searching for information about local small businesses online, so it makes sense for you to think about your search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. At the same time, small businesses must compete with large national brands in highly competitive local business categories for optimum position in search results. Getting creative and understanding how to use technologies to your advantage is essential to tapping into the local search opportunity.

Among the latest SEO techniques that small businesses can benefit from is what’s called "universal" or "blended" search, in which search engines give weight to blended content—text plus images or video. Not only do search engines favor blended results, but research has shown that searchers’ eyes are drawn to blended results. That means if your business is generating blended search results, you do not have to be the first result on the search page to gain a searcher’s attention. The thumbnail photo of your image or video in your search result will draw the searcher past all the text-only results to your position on the search page.

As with many SEO tactics, the benefits of blended search are likely to diminish over time as video and imagery proliferate online. To capitalize on this opportunity now, look closely at how you can integrate video and images on your company Web site with aggregator sites like YouTube or in directory listings where your company appears (search engines scour these sites for results). Be sure to tag images and videos with file names and captions that include your keywords. If you are not able to take on this task yourself, look for service providers that are focused on helping small businesses take advantage of these tactics.

Josh Walker CEO CityVoter Cambridge, Mass.

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