Local SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of getting your business to appear closer to the top of local search results in Google, Bing, and other search engines. This post outlines 5 key actions to take to rank your business higher in the local search results. Remember, higher search rankings means more potential customers finding you. Who doesn’t want more customers?
Here are 5 tips to get you on your way to becoming a highly ranked local business.
The first tip is to set up and claim your business on the important local listing sites. The major sites to focus on are:
Having a business listing on search engines like Google My Business, Yahoo! Local, and Bing Places you will not only increase your ranking on each of those search engines but also add to the validity of your business and increase your ranks on other search engines, as well.
Before creating a new listing, search the listing site to check for any previously created listings. If you find a listing, which is likely unless your business is brand new, claim the listings so you can edit the information. If there are multiple/duplicate listings, be sure to merge or delete those duplicates so they don’t confuse people and search engines.
When setting up your listing, it’s important to include all relevant information and complete all available fields. It’s very important to choose all relevant business categories offered for your business and, if your business has multiple locations, it’s best to set up a separate listing for each geographical location as if they were each separate businesses.
Accurate & Consistent Citations
Citations are mentions of your business’ NAP (name, address, and phone number), online. There are structured citations (like Whitepages and other directories) and unstructured citations (like news and blog entries).
Although the number citations is important, it’s also very important to check (and double check) that your local listings and citations are both accurate and consistent.
Accurate Citations: It’s important that thee citations have the correct information, including address, hours of operation, phone number, email, etc. Having the wrong phone number on a citation can have a big impact. Not only will customers be confused if they try to contact you with that information but the search engines will also be confused that they see different information across different platforms, which is why your citations need to be consistent, as well.
Consistent Citations: Your business could have six separate office phone numbers, and each could have a specific purpose. However, it’s confusing if all of those numbers appear on citations, especially if each is a primary number on different platforms. The information may be accurate (it’s definitely your phone number) but the inconsistencies confuse search engines whichj discourages them from ranking you above your competition. Pick a phone number and stick with it for all of your listings and citations.
Do you know your business’s current listing and citations? Are they accurate and consistent? Click here to request a free online business report and find out how our system can get you more structured and unstructured citations.
More Positive Reviews
It’s not always easy to get customers to review your business, but it’s vital to the long term success of your business (especially in key industries like restaurants, dental offices, car dealers, etc) and increasing your business’s SEO.
The goal of search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing is to feature local businesses that they’re confident will provide quality services to their searchers (customers). A business’s reviews are a critical factor that search engines take into account when creating these rankings which is why building up a good amount of quality, positive reviews will help increase your search rankings. Positive reviews also increase the confidence that potential customers will have in your business if they stumble on it while searching.
WARNING: Please refrain from coming up with strategies to get fake reviews posted to boost your business. It won’t help your ranking or your business in the long run, and it could actually end up costing you more than a few bucks. The Attorney General of New York is making an example out of businesses that are “astroturfing” for their clients.
If you want to get more positive reviews, there are legitimate ways to generate them. We’ll be writing a blog post with some review generation ideas in the very near future.
Optimize Your Website
Making your website more optimized for local searches can be very effective and low cost, depending on how your business is built. Let’s explore a couple quick website optimizations:
First, make sure you add your full address and contact information on a designated “Contact” page, and in your footer so it displays on all website pages. This will make it easy for customers, and search engines, to find your contact details no matter where they’re at on your website.
Second, separating the services you offer into individual pages will make it easier for customers to find what you offer, easily, while navigating your website and will increase the number of relevant pages that are available to rank in search engines. This is also true for locations. If your business has multiple locations, consider adding a location pages for each individual location and/or geographical area being served.
Third, given the fact that we live in a world where people use their cell phones and other devices to look for local businesses and services, it’s important to make sure your website is mobile friendly. Choose between either a responsive design (preferred) or a simple mobile friendly webpage (usually setup on a subdomain like m.yourwebsite.com) will work.
Here is where a lot of small business owners roll their eyes. Adding a blog takes some time and planning, but the idea behind having a blog is to update your customers on what your business is up to.
Do you have new products or services? Are you hosting or attending a local event? Anything new or interesting about your business? All of these questions will help you create relevant content for your blog.
A blog increases your search rankings because, like having pages for each of your services and locations, it increases the number of relevant webpages your website has on the internet, increasing the chances of someone finding your website when searching the internet.
Blogs also help you create great content to share on your social pages. Posting to your social accounts on a regular basis will give your customers a reason to follow your business and keep you in their minds between purchases.
The Bottom Line
SEO isn’t rocket science. If you’re a local business then optimizing for searches in your local area is a wise longterm investment.
To summarize, for the typical local business, it’s most important to make sure the search engines:
- Know who you are, where you’re at, and what you do
- Can verify who you are, where you’re at, and what you do through other online directories, and search engines
- Have confidence in your business by actively seeking customer reviews
- Are able to find and share as many relevant pages with rich content from your website as possible