Local SEO should be an important part of your marketing strategy if you own a local business. In this article, you will be given some of the basic tips and information so you can get started with this type of SEO; even if you are a complete newbie and not very tech savvy.
Local SEO Explained
This type of SEO involves optimizing your business website for local search engine results. Regardless if you are a restaurant, dentist or yoga studio, you want to be targeting local customers in your city and focusing on SEO locally should be a goal.
Organic Results versus the Local 7-Pack
When local search is involved, the majority of search engines have a couple sets of results; the Local 7-Pack and the organic results. Only local businesses that have registered with Google are featured in the Local 7-Pack. However, with the organic results, the results that are the most relevant are displayed. This includes review sites like Yelp, directories like The Yellow Pages and obviously, local businesses. Optimizing your website for both Local 7-Pack and organic results is preferable which will allow you to cover more search results.
You could even go so far as to ensure your business reaches the top Yellow Pages and Yelp listings. If you see other local businesses in the search results but not yours, there are many different reasons for this. Below are some steps you can take immediately to get your business site on Local 7-Pack.
Laying the Foundation
As mentioned above, only Google registered local businesses are featured in the Local 7-Pack which is why it comes as a surprise that more local businesses haven’t signed up. It only takes a few minutes to do this. Below will get you started.
Look for an Existing Listing
Prior to starting a new listing, you first want to explore what information on your business is already out there. You can go to: Google.com/business to do this and sign in. Then just type in the search box your phone number (not your business name which a lot of people do). Here’s why:
Say you enter the business name – ‘Dr. Muyal & Associates’ which is a dental practice for this example, you will see that it comes up with only one hit (Toronto). However, based on their site, there are a couple of locations for their practice; one in Thornhill and the other in Toronto. So, by entering their business name only, it could appear as though they only have one business listing and their Thornhill address was missing.
Taking the same example, if you were to put their Thornhill phone number in the search field, their listing for Thornhill now appears under a different alias. Typing in the phone number is always a better idea since you don’t always know what name they put down for a listing. For a case like this, it would be a good idea to contact Google and have their business names fixed so there is consistency with both locations.
Register For Google Business
After you have checked to see if there is any information on your business an don’t find any, it’s time to add it.
If no listings came up for your business in our check above, click on ‘add your business’
Type in all business details
Click on continue and wait for the postcard Google will send you. Once you get this postcard, you will be given a pin number which you will use to confirm your location.
Typically, there is a 2 week waiting period for the postcard to arrive, however there are still some things you can do while you wait. During this time, ensure your profile is filled out completely as well as your listing. This will ensure customers have no problems understanding your business.
Some Tips for Helping you Fill your Profile Out
Include images that catch the eye – On 7-Pack, these will show up by hovering your mouse over the listing.
Fill your hours in accurately – (many people just skim this part over, however, you can miss out on potential customers if your business shows up as being closed when it is really open).
Ensure your listing is in the proper category – Google will use this criterion to determine the relevance your business is to the search.
Include keywords and a thorough description (don’t stuff keywords).
Build your Local Presence
Now that your profile is added and Google is aware of your business, use the following strategies to improve your relevance.
The mentioning of your business on the Internet is known as a citation. This can be a simple mention of your business with or without a link. It could also be a complete listing of your business address, name, website and phone number. Citations validate your business and tell Google your business is legitimate and a member of the local community.
Citations are not all the same. For example, if you have a dental practice in Toronto, it would be better for it to be listed in the Toronto dental directory versus a more generic worldwide directory. Keep in mind when you add citations that your business name should be the same all over the web as should your phone number and address. Also, citations can contain duplicates just as Google listings, so be sure to check to see if it already exists before adding it.
Since it can get fairly tedious adding all your business listings, you also have the option of paying for it to be done for you. Some paid services that are reputable include:
Each has its own pros and cons, however.
Include your Location on your Site
This is often forgotten by many people. They exclude their city and state on their site. This step ensures Google will know you are a local business in that particular city and will significantly improve your local and organic searches. It is recommended that you add your city and state to the following:
Your title tag
Your H1 tag
Your goal is to drive relevancy signals and not stuff keywords in your content.
Add Schema Markup
This will help Google get a better idea of your site. Specific markup tags tell Google where on your site your address, phone number and name are. An easy way to do this is by following the steps below.
Add details; copy code you will find on the right and paste to your site
Grab Some Reviews
An essential part of ranking on Local 7-Pack is in the reviews. The more you have; the better. Plus, customers usually turn to reviews to help with buying decisions. In fact, according to a study done by Bright Local, it is said that reviews are trusted by 88% consumers and are deemed as important as personal recommendations. Don’t skip this important step.
You will find more advanced techniques available that you can use, however, these steps are easy adn will put you one step ahead of many of the other local businesses. Don’t hesitate to get going with this, the quicker businesses adapt, the faster they thrive.