As I reported in an earlier post, Google have rolled out tags and Boost, enabling small businesses to secure a presence in local search provided they pay monthly advertising fees. Yet, rightly or wrongly, everyone agrees that organic search results are still the best place to appear. Besides, ranking well in the organic results costs you nothing.

So how do you get to the top of the local search organic results? Well, obviously, it’s not easy, otherwise I’d be out of a job. LOL There is one thing you can do, however, before coming to a SEO expert for professional help.

But before I tell you what it is, I’ll tell you what not to do: please, don’t stick your hand in a grab-bag of trendy SEO techniques, such as link wheels, link farms, or autoblogs. More often than not you will end up doing your site more damage than good, making my job more difficult.

Here’s what you can do: make sure you are not sending the wrong signals to the search engines. If your site is about purple widgets, it should be obvious to Google that your site is in the purple-widget niche. That’s the whole point of SEO.

If your site is not obviously about purple widgets, then, needless to say, it will have a hard time competing in the purple-widget niche on local search.

This may sound basic, but surprisingly many business owners do precisely that, even engaging in article marketing and other intermediate SEO techniques, even though their website hasn’t been optimized correctly.

Their website might be optimized for their own name, which few people search for or some unrelated phrase from the CMS (content management system). To give you an extreme example, there are thousands of websites out there which have “read the rest of this entry” as the most dominant phrase, because that particular phrase has been built into the WordPress content management system powering those sites.

Question: How do you check the optimization of your site? Answer: Analyze the keywords by frequency and relative density.

There are a number of tools, scripts, and web apps that do this. A good one is Qirina. At first glance, it’s not clear what this site does. (Note to the developers:  would it hurt to put some documentation on your site? 🙂 ) It’s useful because, in addition to analyzing keywords, it automatically tries to identify the niche your site is in.

For example, for LocalbizBits, Qirina identifies the niche as “local search,” which is correct.

But take this dentist’s site in Milwaukee. Qirina identifies the niche for this site as not “milwaukee dentist” but as “smile designs.” Why? This phrase, the brand name of the dentist’s business, and his surname appear far more frequently than the word ‘dentist’ on the front page of the website. While keyword density is no longer as an important a metric as it was in 2002, relative keyword density does matter, and that’s why drbadalamenti.com is relegated to Page 4 in the local search results for “milwaukee dentist” and Page 9 for “dentist milwaukee.” It gets negligible traffic.

In conclusion, make sure your content is projecting the message is supposed to be projecting. Merely optimizing the on-site content for the keywords you are competing for can make a considerable difference in your business’s local search performance.

Finally, I was also able to ask Nick Oba from Oirina a couple of questions.

1. Why should a small business use your site/service?

Firstly, to check the content of the business’s website for optimization, and second, to compare keyword usage to that of competitors in the same niche, as well as to find competitors. Last but not least, it’s free. 🙂

2. Who is behind the site/service?

Qirina was developed by LocustSwarm, a small outfit which has been producing websites since 1996 and web apps since 2005.

3. Why are keywords important ?

Keywords are what search engines analyze and evaluate when determing how relevant websites are to search queries. (Ordering those websites involves far more criteria such as link popularity, traffic, age, and so on.)

I have tried the site on my other site and does provide some good information, so give it a try, its free and if you can gain some more understanding about your site, it will be worth the time.