When was the last time you actually reached to that fat Yellow Pages volume to do a search and leaf through countless pages with tiny fonts? Old and a bit annoying, right? That search quickly became archaic, though it’s been just few decades since there was no other option! So when I’m saying that every business owner needs to build a website, I genuinely mean it! Even if you love to knock on doors and talk to random people face-to-face! Not everyone can do it. Enjoy, but even then you can still use Google to help reach new people. It is truly worth your while!
Today, Google and Yelp have become synonymous with “search.” When users are looking for a business near your location — a place to grab a bite, spend the night, remodel a home, buy a gift or go to a movie – your potential customers will turn first to a search engine. Your goal: to make sure YOUR business is the one that shows up on top or at least on a first page! For that to happen, you need Local Search Engine Optimization, or as it’s known in the industry, “ Local SEO.”
What is SEO and why it should be local?
When someone is looking online for any business or activities in your area, local SEO refers to specific actions you can take to make sure that your site appears in search engines. It helps search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing associate your activity with your geographic location – and decide where to display your website on their search results.
Local SEO is definitely a must for anyone with a brick and mortar business. As I’ve mentioned, it’s one of the best ways to bring in new customers from your area. Marketing to local clients is a your key to increasing potentials of conversion and building long term relationships with your customers!
Search engines increasingly tailor their results based on the location of the searcher. They look for keywords that show local intent, such as “chiropractors near me” or “architects in Los Angeles,” and they show results accordingly, with geo-targeted content receiving priority status.
Get listed on the (Google) map!
Most of the time this method is overlooked! One of the best ways to help local customers find your business is to optimize your website for Google Maps and what is known as the “Local Pack.” The Local Pack takes the highest ranked businesses from Google Maps and places them at the top of Google search results.
This is your “prime real estate” and you want to own it. To give yourself a shot at being one of those three lucky businesses, make sure you list yours in detail on Google My Business (GMB). Then, since Google likes to place top-rated services in the Local Pack, ask customers to write reviews about you on GMB. Remarkably, only 10% of businesses have claimed their spot on GMB which means less competition for you. Google My Business is just one example of a search engine directory. Bing also has a business directory and it’s worthwhile to claim your spot there as well.
The Truth about local directories – what they are and why they boost your local SEO
You also want to submit your website to as many directories as you can – as long as they are relevant to what you do. Local directories list sites and social communities that specialize in indexing small businesses. Yelp, Foursquare and TripAdvisor are among the most well known of these sites, but there are many more. (Check out all the places you need to be listed online.)
People who are looking for different places to eat, shop and sleep often refer to these sites to see what their respective communities have to say. But perhaps more importantly, Google search holds many of these sites in high regard. When you are listed on good local directory websites, your business can potentially receive a dramatic boost in search rankings.
Make sure your contact info is consistent
Don’t be an egghead. That’s a Twitter term - profiles without pictures! You want to use the exact same name, address and phone number (AKA NAP) everywhere you post about your business. This includes your website, your social media profiles and directories that list you. If your NAP looks a little bit different in some places, search engines may accidentally think you have two (or more) different locations.
To optimize your local SEO, double check that you are always writing your NAP the same way. You also want to prominently feature your contact details on your website. This can be on your contact page or, ideally, in your header or footer. As you probably understand by now, it’s time to take your NAP seriously
Mobile platforms are rapidly overtaking desktops. Today more searches are performed on mobile devices than on desktops and Google knows this. That’s why they are moving to “mobile first,” meaning they will soon be indexing and ranking websites based on mobile versions rather than desktop versions. Keep that in mind.
Ready to put all this good advice to use? Start by building a website. If you already have a website than I’d love to analyze how your SEO is working for you. Let’s get connected!