Over 97% of consumers search for local businesses online. Because of this, more small business owners are discovering that SEO and Internet marketing is a necessity. However, most local business owners are in the dark when it comes to doing it effectively. While some business owners hire a company or professional to manage their SEO campaign, others prefer to do it themselves. To help the business owners in their effort, here are seven SEO tips for local businesses.

1. Use Local Based Keywords in Titles: Recent studies from various SEO research groups discovered that the keywords in a website’s title tend to carry a lot of weight in terms of search factors. Google uses the keywords in a title to initially match a user’s search terms. Therefore, a website titled “Mary’s Shoes” will probably not have as much impact as say a title like: ” Mary’s Shoes | Chicago Shoe Store”

Of course, the title is just one factor that Google looks at when ranking sites for certain keywords.

2. Claim Listings: It is extremely important to claim your local profiles. It’s as simple as logging into Google Places and Bing Local to verify your company. Upon doing this, your company will appear in the local listings when a consumer searches for a product/service related to your company.

3. Build a Geographic Link Profile: Backlinks help with moving your website up in the search engine rankings. They view backlinks as votes or recommendations for your website. The more you have from relevant sources, the better you are. But if you are a local business, you should also try to make sure you are acquiring backlinks from other sources from your area. It will hold more weight when trying to rank locally.

4. Add your Address in the Footer: You want to try and let the search engines know you are located in a certain geographic location. By adding you address in the footer of your website, it will allow the search engines to crawl that content and understand where your business is located. It will help when trying to rank for local based keywords.

5. Ask for Reviews: On your customer communication pages, emails, etc. make a point to say “We appreciate your business and would love it if you could give our business a review on Google/Bing/Yahoo Local.” These reviews, good or bad, make your business more creditable to future customers.

6. Update your WHOIS: Try to have your domain name registered to your current business address. It’s still up in the air whether or not this helps, but many SEOs believe it does make an impact; it’s easy to do, so why not do it!

7. Make your content local: Everyone knows, search engines love content. Try to mention your location naturally throughout your website’s copy, so the search engines can see that your pages are associated with a specific place or region.