It’s official: local SEO is the new phone book for businesses looking to get noticed, whether for a brick and mortar store or an online site. Consumers consult their desktop and mobile devices for everything from store hours and location to price comparisons for their favorite products. Whether you rely upon walk-in customers or not, having a strong presence on the search engines is mission critical as we reach the end of 2014.

In creating an effective strategy for your local search rankings, it’s important to send strong signals that your products and services are associated with your preferred city or geographic area. Along with adding information like an address, business hours, and a phone number to your online profile, it also helps to have a clear understanding of the search terms locals use when looking for businesses just like yours.

Luckily, when looking for a nearby dry cleaner, for example, people tend to be extremely specific in their search terms. “Los Angeles dry cleaner” or “dry cleaner in Los Angeles” might be good choices, if the dry cleaner was close to downtown. But Los Angeles is a big city. Perhaps consumers should know this particular company is in Brentwood, not Silverlake, and that they  specialize in professional leather cleaning. “Professional leather cleaning in Brentwood” might be a better term to optimize.

Your marketing team should look at the consumer decisions that go into your sales funnel before determining what keywords work for you. And a word to the wise: fresh, relevant content is always an essential part of any marketing strategy.