Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) involves tactics to increase the likelihood of a brick and mortar business ranking higher in local search results (the pack of local businesses on Google’s search engine results page).
A good example to illustrate the power of local search optimization would be a search for “Chicago personal trainer.” Upon searching for this keyword, the internet user will see business results located most closely to their search location. Local SEO consists of many marketing tactics, with nuances that are often better left to the professional SEO marketer.
However, there are some simple and free steps that business owners can take in 2015 to make some major headway on their own.
Optimize your Google Places page
If you don’t have a Google Places (Google My Business) page, sign up for one today without hesitation. If you have an established brick and mortar presence, there is a good chance Google has already recognized your business and created a page for you. In this case, just claim the listing as instructed. After setting up the page, Google will send you a postcard with a PIN in a few weeks. Remember this PIN and use it later to officially “verify” the Google Places listing.
An important step in local search engine optimization is claiming and optimizing the Google Places listing. By getting a jump on this task, you can be in a better place to either consult a professional local SEO agency to further optimize your Google local presence, or learn more and do it yourself.
Register in local directories
Examples of local directories would be Apple Maps, Yahoo, Foursquare, Angie’s list, and more. Local directories serve the value of increasing the amount of times that your business or organization’s NAP (name, address, and phone number) appear throughout the web. This is referred to as a “citation.” A local search company will help you to get into the most relevant and valuable local directories (like Google, Yahoo, and those mentioned above). But this doesn’t mean you can’t get a head start and work on getting into some pretty valuable directories on your own.
Try getting a listing for your business on the local Chamber of commerce website. Another great place to have your website listed would be with any local or professional organizations. Do you belong to any? If not, it may be worth checking into as they are often inexpensive and can be a great source of website traffic to your business’s website.
When in doubt of where to register your business, research the competition. Google their name and dig into the first few pages of the search engine results to try and spot any local associations, clubs, or professional organizations they are listed in. Through research you can gain some valuable insights into how competitors are getting found online and emulate what they are doing in your own strategy.
Encourage reviews & give customer instructions
Reviews on Yelp are great because they are often seen by so many people as a trusted source for information. But when we’re discussing local SEO, Google Plus review are where it’s at. The problem is that people are often not as familiar with Google reviews and how they work. So it’s up to you to teach them.
We’ve tried creating a one sheet on how to leave a Google review with step by step explanations. And it has seen some positive results. It is most powerful when coupled with the “in-person ask.” When you have an over the top happy customer who is proactive about thanking you, ask them. Let them know it would mean a lot if they would review you on Google. Then give them a well-made graphic designed one sheet with easy to follow step-by-step instructions on how to do this.
Not only are the review nice-looking in the search engines with their rich snippits (stars), but they will help push your local search rankings to the top.
Check for NAP consistency
NAP stands for “Name, Address, and Phone number.” In order to stand the best chances of ranking well locally, these three things must be consistent for your business everywhere they are listed online. Reasons a directory listing could be inconsistent include examples such as a change in address without proper updating when the business moved, or incorrect entry (silly interns).
Create a list of possible past business addresses that your company could be listed under and provide them to your local SEO marketing company. They can work with you to make sure that only your new address is listed in search results. It also wouldn’t hurt to do a little investigative research and perform a search for your business on the internet and attempt to locate incorrect listings that need to be fixed.
Create local content on your blog
Blogging doesn’t have to be hard. Yes, it does take time, but it really is worth it. Try not to focus on articles like “10 best tips for plumbers in chicago.” This doesn’t speak to your target audience and provide any value. Instead, think long and hard about your target audience and write content geared towards them. What do they like and really want to read more about? Become a local destination for valuable information on a given topic or set of topics. By becoming a local destination you can win at local search in 2015.
Please comment below, what have you done in 2015 to improve the way your business appears online in your local community?