A report from Bright Local reveals that SEO is a leading way to drive traffic to local business sites.

The UK-based firm BrightLocal surveyed U.S. consumers to determine how they find local businesses on the web, and the results demonstrate the importance of claiming Google Places pages and boosting SEO.

According to BrightLocal, Google Places delivers 33 percent of visits to local business sites. Marketers should be sure to claim their Place pages on Google, and they might also consider moving inventories online to further engage Google Places-derived visitors. (As Brafton has reported, Google recently launched a product search feature for Places.)

The second-leading traffic source for local merchants' sites is Google SEO. Google's organic search results drives one-quarter of visits to business websites. Local SEO campaigns should consider Google – Places aside. The report found that 59 percent of consumers use Google to find nearby businesses each month, while Bing, Bing Local, Yahoo and Yahoo Local drive less than 10 percent of local business site visits combined.

These findings support the creation of locally oriented, keyword-rich site content, and Arianna Huffington recently advocated this type of content as well. At ad:tech San Francisco, Huffington said local, high-quality content will drive online audience engagement.

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.