Part 1 – Generating Income Through Local Search Websites

by on November 21, 2011 · 8 comments

Southside Pittsburgh Restaurants

You’ve heard it time and time again – make money working from home. Shiny ads showing regular folks just like you and me living easy by the pool just watching the checks roll in. This blog series isn’t about selling a lifestyle, or creating the notion that quitting your day job in a few months is a good idea. Instead the next several posts in this series will introduce a practical step by step guide to building websites that delivers real value. Yes can earn income and, yes, it is a very part-time gig.

My Story

About 3 years ago I was living in the Southside of Pittsburgh. It’s a vibrant urban neighborhood where the steel workers of Pittsburgh once maintained their homes.

The Southside is built around a main drag and along 20 blocks of Carson Street there are 70+ restaurants. Online I noticed that very few sites had a real grasp of the number of dining options and that zero websites allowed visitors to download PDF menus for each restaurant. Urbanspoon, Yelp, Menuism… all these sites generally fail at providing the actual menus or completeness of listings that someone searching locally really wants.

The next step was to determine if there were local searches for restaurant listings in Southside. The answer…YES. After that, it was time to decide on a domain name and choose one that would help connect with local search traffic. Thus, www.southsidepittsburghrestaurants.com was born. A small side project which enables visitors to easily browse restaurants by cuisine and download PDF menus.

My Earnings

Since launching the site, every year I have received over 10,000 visitors and 99% of that traffic is from search engines with a near zero percent bounce rate. That means all visitors arrive at the site and browse multiple pages, usually 10.

By trade I am a search marketing consultant (www.jeffmhoward.com) and typically most websites have a 25-35% bounce rate. In total my little restaurant site receives over 6,000 PDF Menu downloads per year. I do not pay for ads, market the site locally, or do anything except SEO. All this has enabled me to earn a couple thousand dollars in advertising revenue and typically I spend about one month out of the year doing part-time work on this project. This includes updating listings and conducting sales.

What I’ll Share With You

Now I am evolving this concept and launching local listing websites where I currently live in Ballston, VA. I’ve launched www.ballstonrestaurants.com and another small site www.ballstonhotels.com. In this blog series I will share with you the concepts and process for launching, ranking and generating income through these sites.

The Business Model of Local Search

The growth of local search has opened the door for a site like Southside Pittsburgh Restaurants to flourish. YellowPages are beginning to vanish from our kitchen pantries and desktop drawers. Google is the default search engine and since anyone can rank within Google for any keyword, we all have opportunity.

In a nutshell, these sites are highly targeted online billboards. The billboard rests on a street where only certain traffic passes. For instance, I own a billboard on Southside Restaurants BLVD, and the only traffic moving is from cars out cruising in search of a Southside Restaurants.

Using the SmallBiz Theme for Local Websites

This series shares advice related to all aspects of building local listing websites including sales, choosing a niche and web design. I build my sites on WordPress, and recently switched to the using the SmallBiz Theme for these types of sites because of the speed at which I’m able to launch a quality of site that is supported with help forums, and a platform that is search engine friendly.

Go here to to learn more and tour the SmallBiz Theme. Go here to visit my site example for Ballston Restaurants and Ballston Hotels

About Jeff

Jeff Howard has delivered SEO results for major consumer oriented websites all the way down to local businesses and writes a column for Search Engine Guide.

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Jeff has written 21 articles on Expand2Web

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See my disclosure about advertising and affiliate links

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Dinesh November 21, 2011 at 4:24 am

I am also working now SEO related site this is my eamai lid anf please give me advice how to the search site in google top ten please give advice foe SEO .

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Yvonne Herbst November 27, 2011 at 9:19 am

Very interesting article Jeff; how do you generate the advertising revenue? Will you be discussing this in your next installment? I look forward to it!

Reply

Jeff Howard November 27, 2011 at 11:19 am

Hi Yvonee,

Yep we will talk about that in the weeks to come. We will also discuss sales tactics, and many more things. I’m glad you are enjoying the post. This was just the intro.

Reply

Charley November 30, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Jeff,
Great post and idea. The links for Ballston Hotels and Restaurants don’t go to the site. I think you’re missing a colon on the web address. I still was able to find it as Chrome pointed me to the correct websites. – Charley

Reply

Julie Larson December 31, 2011 at 2:43 pm

I just started reading your series here, Jeff!

I know that Google’s definition of “local” is country. How do you determine what is the true local search volume? Is it simply adding the name of the city to the search?

Looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

Happy New Year!!!

Reply

uttam January 8, 2012 at 11:31 am

Hi Jeff,

Happy New Year !!!
Just a quick question ….do I need permission of the owners ( restaurant ) before placing their name in the website ?
Thanks

Reply

Jeff Howard January 11, 2012 at 7:37 am

Hi Uttam,

No way. The only think you need to worry about is getting the information right. You are providing free advertising for the owners so any exposure as long as the address and phone number is okay is good for them.

– Jeff

Reply

uttam January 11, 2012 at 8:50 am

Hi Jeff,

Thanks

Uttam

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