As a site owner or marketer for a small business, it’s important for Google to be able to identify exactly where your business is located. This will ensure that you show up high on Google’s search engine results pages or SERPs, but also that your business is shown to an increasingly relevant audience – those in your immediate vicinity that are more likely to convert to paying customers.
How to Improve Local SEO for Small Business
Local SEO services can be a very confusing area for businesses. Where do you start as a small business owner? Google’s Penguin algorithm update was such that establishing local search presence is more essential now to the ranking factors that determine positioning of a website on SERPs.
A few strategies are must-haves for successful local SEO. It’s not very complicated; you just need to have a well-rounded strategy to enhance local performance. Use online resources available to acquaint yourself with the basic points of local SEO before delving into these specific techniques to ensure you properly execute them for your business.
Once you know your way around it, create a strong and diverse SEO campaign that includes the following techniques:
1. Create local place pages
For starters, ensure that your business has local business pages with the three major search engines that is, Google, Bing and Yahoo. This means that you will be managing three separate dashboards and listings. For each of the search engines, all you have to do is to fill out the details of your business including name, location/address, telephone number, operating hours and any other relevant information. This will open an account for your business with the search engine.
2. Categorization and optimization
The first step in page optimization is to take and upload a number of high-quality photographs of your place of business. You should include details about your hours of operation as well as listing the products and/or services you offer.
Next, ensure that your business has appropriate categorization – this is one of the most important aspects of local optimizations. In a number of search engines available today, you can put your business in between two and five categories from a list of predetermined options. This gives the search engine a better understanding of the operations of the business.
Remember that not categorizing your business means that the business will not display or returned for given queries, even if they are suited. The same applies to mis-categorization according to the set of target keywords.
3. Cross-check business citations
Everywhere that your business lists, ensure that you have accurate and consistent name address and phone number (NAP) and you have correctly filled out all information. It may happen that a business with a name like yours has been listed someplace else, you don’t need to panic. Just claim the listing, or citation. The procedure is as given below.
First, find out whether there is another listed business with a name like yours by using either of the following:
- Tools like Localeze and Yext can help you identify online locations for your business’s local listings.
- Use Google Map Maker and search for the business name and/or phone number to determine whether any duplicate listings come up.
- Search for your business in various variations. Where you had already created a listing, it is possible that some information gathered from other places on the web could be wrong.
Next, validate the listing as being your business by email, traditional mail or phone. Tools like Localeze and Yext can make this process faster since you can use them to create citations and increase the level of uniformity to ensure that all business citations and consistent and accurate.
4. Online reviews
Research has shown that Google also examines site/business reviews when determining ranking position, especially after the latest carousel design. The reviews are for Google users who can see your company listed within a SERP. They are simple ways through which customers can decide which business they want to go with.
You can improve your number of reviews by placing a button on your website to make it easier for visitors to leave reviews. Avoid posting fake reviews or giving gifts in exchange for good reviews. You can slow talk to people in your store and invite them to review the business.
5. Post quality photographs
This is important for optimizing the listing. When people search for a business online, they’d like to see photos of the place. Most listing directories allow you to upload as many as 10 pictures, even more e.g. Google+ Local. You should upload as many photos as you can. Include photos of the actual place of business – in and outside and take a few pictures of your products.
You can have your logo as one of the pictures, but the main business photograph should be the business premises. Ensure these are by professionals and bring out the best of the business. On the local listings, there’s a link that offer the option of “Add photos” – that’s where you upload photos from.
6. Website optimization
Your actual website also contributes to your local search profile, so ensure that your website has proper optimization. You should include your contact information and a phone number exactly as is on your local listings in your Contacts page.
In the page content, try to include geographically specific keywords where applicable. Produce content that is specific to your locality. Establish local connections by posting to other’s websites and allowing them to guest post on yours. The more the number of local authority connections you have, the better your chances of higher rankings for local search.
Michael Bentos is an experienced digital marketer and part of the team at ParadoxSEO.com – the powerful platform that makes SEO simple. He offers SEO services as well as other internet marketing techniques, and has done so for over one decade to date. You can connect him via linked-in.