Local search is booming. Internet users are turning to local search to find just about everything, including where to eat. If you operate a local business, you will find this article extremely useful.

Local search has come to become increasingly relevant in the recent times. As people become more and more net savvy, the web has become part of our daily lives. For any problem that we have, no matter how small or how big, the first thought that comes to the mind is… ‘Lets Google it!’

Naturally so, we have started looking online for routine questions like ‘Where can we go for a Saturday night dinner?’ or ‘Where can I get Chinese food?’

This has resulted in a spurt of new opportunities for local businesses, especially restaurants and food chains. With just a bit of optimization, you can leverage the full potential of the Local Search and enhance your businesses’ visibility and drive in more people.

Here are some tips to optimize your business for local search:

1. Understand the Requirements of your Target Audience

Everyone likes to build a brand name for themselves! But that’s no reason that your business name should be you prime keywords. Remember, people would already know the names of their favorite restaurants. What they search online is for newer places they can try out… So they would be using phrases like Chinese food +New York, breakfast restaurants around Paris etc.

Thus, it is extremely important to know how consumers search and for this, you can use Google AdWords Keyword Tool. It tells you the popularity of a search phrase that people use to find your restaurant and how they do it.

2. Claim your Place in Google Maps

Google Maps is of incredible importance to local businesses. In fact, you should claim your listing in Maps of other search engines as well. This is because people, especially mobile web users often search directly on the maps page for places. And when search engines determine a matching map result, it shows it directly in the web search results.

If you claim your business listing in Google Maps, your listing pops up immediately for any related search query. Now say, someone is trying to find directions to your place, a listing on Google Maps is the best way to sail them in. And if you don’t have one… you just end up losing business!

Just go to Google’s Local Business Center and claim their listing. Make sure you put your business into the right category and provide complete information. If the maps already list your business, you can claim ownership and load it with crisp and compelling information that attracts people.

3. Make your Website Search Friendly

For any sort of search, be it local or otherwise, the first step is to have an efficient website. No matter the multifarious features made available by social media, one cannot negate the importance of having a dedicated website for a business.

Make sure your website is optimized for search engines. Include compelling content on your site that engages your audience and provides them what they are looking for. Some things that restaurants should include in their websites are a location map, menu card, special offers and discounts etc.

Also, restaurant owners are often tempted to build attractive Flash websites. However, its better to have a healthy combination of Flash and HTML so that you don’t lose out any SEO benefits at the cost of visual elegance.

4. Establish a Firm Presence on Social Media

There is no ignoring Social Media in the present world. Not only can you engage with your audiences, you can also increases your search visibility by having a strong presence on social media platforms. In addition to Facebook & Twitter, target location based platforms like FourSquare, Yelp etc.