Most local businesses have no clue about local search engine optimization (SEO), and I’m not being unkind. The landscape on Local SEO has been changing so rapidly that most companies who profess to be experts in local search engine optimization are largely also clueless. Whether by design or by failure of design, Google keeps their methods a secret. The result is a constant scramble by those who need to know. The goal is to unravel the methods and use them to the advantage of SEO clients.

If a local business owner spent ten hours a week or so trying to stay on top of the local SEO news, he or she might be able to stay on page one of organic listings and Google Places. But that would assume that they are spending even more time or money actually implementing the strategies they learn about.

Google Places alone has made almost weekly changes over the past 6 months: changing the brand, offering posts, reducing the outside maximum on the outside pack to seven from ten, now allow links in the listings at two places, came out with a specific list of rules on some issues, created a paid ad called tags, have eliminated the direct link on the short listing to the website, and have added a problem center (albeit as of now it is one way). These are just the major changes. The entire list would be the subject of another entire article.

The following list is the inside information. Your SEO consultant doesn’t want this list to see the light of day. But you need to know it. The main reason is so that you can tell your web designer who claims to know local SEO how to correctly set up your website. You need to know it so that you can help the SEO expert who tells you they will get you on page 1 for hundreds of dollars per month, but your phone never rings.

1. Meta Title Tags may be the most critical words on your website. This title tag is often what will be the headline in search, and Google thinks this is what is important to you. Your title tag should not be “Home” or “Joe’s Restaurant.” It should be “keyword keyword keyword city keyword keyword city.” Using restaurant as an example: “Italian Restaurant Pizza Beverly Hills | Wine Tasting | Los Angeles” You get 64 characters to tell your story.

2. Your URL matters now. Don’t throw out your current website URL to get better keywords in your URL. You get points from Google for having an website that’s been around for a while. However, if you are starting a new website, use keywords in the site URL.

Also, make your internal pages into landing pages by adding appropriate keywords to the URL like Use your important city name in the URL and/or the landing page URL.

3. You need to repeat your Keywords in your headline and the first 150 words of content on your first page. Do not overdo this. Just keep it natural. Don’t go crazy trying to get 3.765 keyword density. But don’t neglect to get these keywords in. Make at least one instance of each keyword Bold and link to an appropriate inside page. Once again, use the city (s) here, too.

4. Create a local keyword footer at the very bottom of every page. This should look something like Italian Restaurant Beverly Hills | Italian Restaurant Los Angeles | Pizza Beverly Hills | Pizza Los Angeles | wine tasting Beverly Hills | wine tasting Los Angeles | You have 50 words (250 characters) for this footer. Don’t hesitate to include five suburbs in this area or 10 keywords with one or two suburbs.