by Audrey Strasenburgh

So you have a brand new business with a physical location—now what? It is time to advertise your products and services with the help of local SEO.

Search engine optimization has been around for nearly a decade now, and many businesses use this tactic in order to improve their site's visibility on the internet. Local SEO is the next big thing; it is one of the most essential components your business must implement, if you want long-term success in search engines such as Google and Bing.

But what is local SEO? Due to increased smartphone usage and better internet connectivity, local SEO focuses on search results that are specific to the user's area. For example, if you were walking the streets of New York City and decided you wanted some quality, NY-style pizza, you would whip out your smartphone, open Google, and search "Best NY-style pizza." Within seconds, Google's search results will bring up great pizza places in the city. Not only this, but local SEO has been so refined that those pizza places may just be within the zip code you are walking through.

Search engines are now sophisticated enough to provide users with information that they can immediately relate to, without having to extend their search phrase to include a geographical area.

Back in 2011, nearly 40% of mobile users searched with local intent—whether it be looking for the nearest movie theater, grocery store, or shopping mall. So why does a company want to improve its local SEO? Because two out of three people take immediate action as a result of a local search. They want pizza, and they want it NOW.

Does your business need local SEO? If you are a small-to-medium-sized business with local business listings whose locations are in one city or county, you should consider this new type of strategy. Local SEO tactics have helped retail stores, doctors, dentists, and lawyers everywhere.

How do you improve your rankings with local SEO? To optimize for local search, the first thing you will want to do is acquire a Google Places for Business page. Here you can add your company contact information, business hours, address, and contact details so users can easily get in touch with your company when they need your service. Don't leave anything blank!

Next, link your new Google Places page to a Google+ Local page. This page is what your company is after: it is the social interaction; it is where customers go to rate your company, leave comments, questions, and reviews. You can even include guest blogging, images, and videos on the personal business page. Think about all the features Facebook has to offer, now apply them to SEO marketing strategies. Great little tool, right?

What is trending now in Google+ Local is keyword referencing. It is not all about keyword stuffing these days, but instead high-quality main keywords that appear organically placed into the content of a page. Your business's Google+ Local page should have your brand name, a keyword, and a location associated with both. The object of the game here is to make sure you hit these three requirements without having the meta description appear unnatural to users.

Businesses are also referencing keywords in the title bar, and placing their company in the most relevant and specific category. For example, you may have a restaurant, but so do millions of others. What kind of restaurant do you own? Italian, Chinese, vegan, buffet? Start getting specific and relevant.

Is local SEO worth it? For any small- to medium-sized business—YES! There is going to be an upfront set-up cost no matter what SEO marketing company you hire, but there is an ongoing component to this strategy that allows you to receive reviews, social shout outs, and links every month that will improve your search engine standings.