The fact of the matter is that many local small business owners simply don’t know or understand what Local Search Engine Optimization (Local SEO) is and why it’s so important. It is often the things that we don’t know that hurt us the most and although business owners don’t need to know everything about Local SEO and every technique, it is important to make sure that their business is set up properly because of the opportunities correct listings and being proactive with your local seo strategy will bring to your front door.
The overall principal is that Google wants your business information all across the web to be accurate and consistent. This information is placed all over the Internet if you have been in business for any length of time but especially on business directories and listings like Google +, Yelp, Merchant Circle, & Facebook just to name a few. Having your information correct across the web is important to Google so that when they publish results on their search engine pages, the odds are that they are providing the best information possible to visitors.
Local SEO is focused on providing results that are relevant to a searcher based on their current location and terms or services associated with that location. These results are very competitive because only the top 2 or 3 results are displayed on Googles search results. So, if you are not one of the top 3 listings, you are basically invisible to web searchers. Consumers today search for information online for local services and products far more than looking in the phone books. They want answers quickly and one click later, they want to call or visit you. Are you going to be visible? Is your listing showing up 1st or 2nd in your geographical area? If not, you have work to do. Remember, these listings are FREE if you get them managed correctly. These results are not ads, but they will take some work.
What do I need to do?
Making sure that your Google + page has accurate Name, Address, & Phone (NAP information) and website links that are consistent is a great place to start. Having 3 different phone numbers and locations that are no longer in service will surely bump you down the rankings ladder. We recommend you Google Your Name (GYN) and see all the conflicts and immediately start correcting them. This will give you a better chance of ranking high. Its very important for the business to provide photos and updated information and to keep your business relevant and up to date. Google will only keep your business on top of their page if its getting attention and has useful information to the searchers. If you have a blog, share it on your local listings, if you took new pictures of your latest project, share it.
Make sure your website is set up correctly with location pages, proper footer protocol, site maps and that information is also accurate and consistent with local listings across the web. If you are just starting out, make sure you put all this in place prior to launching your site. Make sure your site is not being penalized unnecessarily. Once consistent, start increasing your business listings on all major directories and then implement an ongoing listing strategy (citation building) so that you are staying ahead of your competitors.
Once this is done correctly and you start ranking high, you can begin appearing locally and organically! We have many clients who appear 2, 3 and even 4 times on the 1st page of Google for various high volume terms. This visibility is what will make the phone ring big time! Lead generation is the ultimate benefit of any SEO program.
What are some specific techniques?
Local SEO can get fairly detailed, but there are some basic bullet points and protocols that every business owner can follow. To give your business the best chance to show up in Google’s local searches you need to set up your listings with correct NAP and website and then include as many of the following as possible:
- Add a long, unique description that’s formatted correctly and includes links.
- Choose the correct categories for your business.
- Upload as many relevant photos as possible.
- Add a local phone number to your listing.
- Add your business address that’s consistent with that on your website and local directories.
- Upload a high-resolution profile image and cover photo.
- Add your opening times/days (if relevant).
- Get real reviews from customers
- Have an ongoing business listing expansion plan in place
- Have a “red flag” warning system in place to notify you of bad reviews and listings being adjusted without your knowledge
- Any changes to phone, business name, or addresses need to be adjusted across the board on all online listings
- Make sure your website is mobile friendly to take advantage of increased clicks
Local SEO is very similar to Organic SEO, but it targets your local traffic, and makes sure that your local area is aware of your existence and comes to you when they need your service. To keep your business on the top, its very important to have reviews, good solid reviews from your actual clients. So whenever you have a satisfied client saying how happy they are with the service you provided, ask them to leave you a review on Google, Yelp or Facebook. Those three sites are the most visited websites where clients go to read the reviews about the business prior to using them.
What type of businesses are affected by Local SEO?
- Service-based businesses
- Restaurants, hotels, bars and cafes, spas and salons, auto shops and service centers, banks and other such service – based businesses with a physical location are among those whose local search rankings can significantly affect business.
- Multi-location companies
- National brands, bigger companies with multiple business locations, franchises and chains, enterprise-level organizations with anything between 1 to 10,000 physical locations: these businesses can also benefit from branding and marketing strategically on a local level.
- Business locations with multiple departments, offices and individual practitioners
- It’s not just companies with multiple locations that can profit from having an effective local SEO strategy; Business locations housing multiple companies, such as business parks, departments, offices, and other individual practitioners can also increase traffic and revenue by working on improving their local rankings.
The bottom line is, if you are a local business and are looking to increase your exposure and lead generation, you simply have to make sure that your Local SEO is done correctly. It is worth the effort and investment.
The local results show up above the Organic results, and often get more clicks just because that’s what the consumer sees first.
Local SEO changes very often, and its important to keep up with the changes, in order not to get lost in the shuffle. Keeping up with the changes isn’t easy, because internet is full of information and knowing where to look and what to look for isn’t easy for a business owner who is simply concentrating on building and working their business. So having a company dedicated to making sure that all the info is up to date is very helpful.
Be careful. Many services claim to be Local SEO experts and are either over-priced or do not get good results. Do your research. This isn’t rocket science, but it does take time and effort. If you do go with an outside service, be sure they have been around a while and can show you examples of the results they are currently getting for existing clients. Local SEO pricing (if being done correctly) can cost between $200 and $600 monthly per location and depending on the business, it is worth every penny. It is an excellent tool to gaining more exposure if done correctly. It provides an opportunity to separate yourself from many competitors who don’t pay attention to this part of Google or don’t know the importance of Local SEO. Always remember, the things you don’t know can limit opportunities.
If you are interested in having your local footprint increased, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free evaluation.