Why locate a business?

From my experience in online marketing I have found that people respond well when being provided information about a businesses location. This is most important when a business has a regionalised/local market like a physical shop.

Giving visitors your business address and a good online map can be a major influence in potential customers decisions. Knowledge that a business exists at a place, especially if it is near, instils confidence and trust. Think about how you buy online, would you prefer to buy a product locally where you can easily get support, or from an anonymous website?

Informing search engines where you are located can increase your web sites traffic from people searching near your area. For many businesses these are the people who are most likely to purchase.

Search engines are starting to provide search results related to the physical location of the person searching. e.g. If a search engine knows your business is close to the person searching, they may position you higher in search results.

A good example of this is the inclusion of Google Maps into normal Google results. If Google detects location names in a search phrase it may include a map into its normal results. The map will include 10 extra websites based on websites close to the detected search location. The following activities will help you get into those extra ten results and give you a second chance in showing up on the first page of search results.

Informing potential Customers of a Business Location

Include your Business Address

The aim of most website is to create new customers, so it makes sense to include your full business address and contact details on all pages of the website.

Internet users have different preferences. Some love using fancy websites that let them complete their needs online, however, others prefer to talk with humans or even see them before being happy. Providing multiple forms of contact will cater for all your potential clients needs.

Don't treat contact information as an afterthought. Many websites hide contact links or text down the bottom of the page or deep in menus. Remember that the whole point of the website is to create leads, and contact information is the main way to do that.

Provide a Street Map

One way to provides visitors with a better experience is by providing them with a street map to help them find your business.

My Location Map Maker tool will help you do just that.

Register with Google Places

Once you are registered with Google Places your website will appear on all of Google's map based search results.

Correctly Localising your Domain

If your business is only marketing to a single region then it is best to get a domain that is regional. e.g. .com.au. When searching, users tend to prefer a URL that has a local domain over an international or foreign domain. If your business is international then a .com domain is best.

You should also host your website in the primary country that your are marketing to. It means those customers will get the fastest website and search engines will default you to the appropriate region. Search engines localise a website based on its domain name if possible or where the website is hosted (via IP address).

If you register with Google Webmaster Tools and add your website you can confirm what region Google has placed a website in. If it's a .com domain then you can change the targeted region.

Include GEO Meta Tags

Some systems such as search engines may use GEO meta information to localise each page of a website.

Here's an example of how I mark my location within this web page using the GEO location and meta tags:

 
<meta name="geo.position" content="-34.92577, 138.599732"> 
<meta name="geo.region" content="AU-SA"> 
<meta name="geo.placename" content="Adelaide, Australia"> 

My Location Map Maker tool will help you find your GEO position values.

The GEO region is based on an ISO Country Code combined with an optional regional code which is normally two or three letters.

The GEO place name is free form text. Typically it would contain city, state then country names.

The HTML Geo-Tag Generator page is a good way to automatically create your tags.

GEO Sitemaps and KML files

Another way to tell Google your location or even a set of locations is to create a KML file then tell Google about it via a GEO Sitemap. KML files work with applications such as Google Earth to define Placemarkers, Paths, Image Overlays and much more.

A step by step system to set this up is provided by the Geositemap Generator.