Last month I talked about the importance of local SEO. I demonstrated how, in many ways, the tables have turned to benefit local bricks and mortar businesses over the national chains. Of course, it only benefits the local bricks and mortar businesses who know what they’re doing.
That’s where this article might help. Today I’m going to share 5 things you can do to improve your visibility in the search engines with local searchers. Like anything on search engines, this isn’t an exhaustive list. Sharing that would be, well, exhausting. And overwhelming.
But these 5 tips are a great place to start. They will put your business in a good position to get found, while doing more than most competing local bricks & mortar businesses.
Tip #1: Create and Manage your “Place Pages”
Every search engine has a local “place page” for business listings. For Google, it used to be Google Places — now it’s called Google+ for Business. There’s also Yahoo! Local and Bing Business Portal. Chances are, your business is already listed here. But do you know what your listing says?
Make sure your business address is correct, take time to enter the products & services you offer, and — a little known fact — make sure you’re using your LOCAL phone number with area code (as opposed to a toll-free number). The information you put in these place pages provide important clues for the search engines to know more about your business. By the way — you do NOT need to pay for these listings. When you set yours up, read carefully and you’ll find a way to manage each listing for free without doing their paid options.
Tip #2: Make sure your business is listed in the local business directories.
This includes your local Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau and trade associations. Plus, make sure your information is accurate in the local internet yellow pages. Same rules apply as the “Place Pages.” You don’t have to pay for these listings (except Chamber of Commerce and BBB) and you should make sure the information about your products & services, address and phone number are all accurate. It’s the match of information between all the sites in #1 and #2 that help the search engines to verify that your information is safe to show searchers.
Tip #3: Get cited in local newspapers, magazines and other authoritative publications and websites in your local area.
Google (and the other search engines) approach it like this: If your business is actually local, then surely the local newspapers, news websites and other local publications will mention your company from time-to-time. So get press releases out there. Reach out to local journalists and find out how you can serve as a local expert in your field. These mentions in local publications provide more proof that you’re connected and recognized in your local area.
Tip #4: Optimize your website for the local area you serve.
Good news. What you say on your website makes a difference for local SEO too. If you run an antiques store in Akron, Ohio, don’t just optimize for keywords like “antiques store.” Also optimize your site for “Akron, Ohio Antiques Store.” Even if your town is tiny and you don’t think many people will come from your town, still do this. It will help search engines like Google “put you on the map.” How do you optimize your site for these words? That’s more than I have time to cover today. But our free SEO Cheat Sheet and short SEO video will help point you in the right direction.
Tip #5: Encourage your customers to write reviews about your business.
This last one is so important. Never before have reviews played a more important role in your local SEO results. Ask your customers to go online and write reviews about the experiences they’ve had with your business. Link them to your Google+ page to write a review — that a beneficial place for all types of businesses. Yelp is great for all local business reviews too. if you’re in some markets, you may want to get reviews from other sources too. For example, Angie’s List is great for business to consumer (B2C) services in most markets, and Trip Advisor is very important for hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions.
So there you have it. Five tips that will help you improve your local SEO results. If you need help putting these tips to work — or if you have a pesky local competitor and you need to do MORE than what’s listed here, let us know. The marketing experts at Spire really love helping local bricks & mortar businesses get an advantage online.