If a business has a physical address, then you probably already know that you need local search engine optimization or local SEO. For many small business owners, this type of SEO continues to be a mystery, and it shouldn’t be. The concept is actually easy to incorporate in any web design or marketing strategy. This guide goes through everything that businesses should know when learning how to use local SEO more effectively for their markets.
In a phrase, any business can use local SEO, but it’s more effective if a business has a definitive physical location. However, if you get most of your business from local clients or customers, local SEO might also be a good idea for you as well. Local restaurants, retail stores, doctor’s offices, dentists, lawyers and so forth all benefit from using some type of local optimized marketing strategy. If you expect foot traffic from your website, you probably want to be the first to use local SEO.
Traditional or national SEO will target broad scope keywords. These keywords aren’t attaching a regional identity. For example, if you’re the marketing team behind Wal-Mart’s new national campaign for cheap tires, then your keywords will likely direct towards all markets and focus on “cheap tires,” “tire discounts” or “tire deals.” However if you are a local auto tire company, you want to focus your keywords around location such as “cheap tires Orlando” or “tire discounts Orlando FL.” Creating a great local SEO strategy is about more than keywords but understanding this difference allows you to do accurate keyword research, which is part of the whole marketing concept behind being local.
Creating profiles in Google is the first thing that any business wanting local traffic must do. Why’s that? Most people are using Google to research products and services, and when they type in something like “new tires Orlando,” a list of businesses that have profiles on Google Places will pop up at the top of the results page for the Orlando, Florida location.
This means that businesses must add their complete location and details to Google Places and Google Plus. The profile must contain as much information as possible including a thoughtful description, pictures, contact details, store hours and hopefully reviews.
You also want to set up profiles on other social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. These sites will undoubtedly come up whenever anyone searches your store’s name or products to learn more information, and you should be the one to control that information.
When you start to create profiles and even build a website, you should make sure that your address is consistent on any page that has your name, address and phone number. They should also feature the same main photo and additional images that are consistent with the rest of your profiles. It may seem trivial, but you should never abbreviate one address and not another.
There are four things to know about local on-site optimization. For one, name, address and phone number must be on every page of your site, such as at the bottom or top. In addition, city and state names should be in the title tags, meta descriptions and content of your site. Schema local markup can also help search engines find your local content better and identify your location for users. Lastly, you can use a KML or keyhole markup language file to further your on-site optimization.
Reviews, positive feedback and number of profiles is important. Reviews should be on every page that it is possible to have reviews, but Google Places reviews are seen the most, which means that they contribute the most to a local business ranking in search results. Businesses often ask customers to leave reviews or add hints to review when a customer is obviously having a great experience. It’s important that you don’t pay for reviews, but businesses have had some success by offering a free gift if a customer leaves a review.
While having all of the above will definitely boost your ranking, your business may still not be in the lead if you are from the city’s center. That’s because when someone searches for “tires Orlando FL,” Google uses “centroid bias,” which means that the search will look for locations closest to the city center of Orlando.
This is a rundown of the steps a business owner can take to improve local SEO immediately.
1. Claim a local listing in Google Places.
Complete the listing until the profile is 100 percent finished. Images, videos, descriptions, contact information, links and posts are all important to finishing your listing. You do not want to use any keywords or location names in the business title unless it’s critical. For instance, if you own “Cheap Orlando Tires Inc” then it’s acceptable, but if your business is “Tires Plus Orlando,” then you wouldn’t write “Cheap Tires Plus Orlando FL.”
2. Spread information through Yext.
Yext is a service that allows you to spread your business information to other local platforms in the same format as you did with Google Places. Each of these becomes a “citation,” which is very valuable in terms of local SEO.
3. Set up other important social profiles.
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are obviously important for local SEO, but if your business is more visual, you may want to set up a profile on Pinterest or if there is a local directory website that lists all of the local tire places, your business should be on there as well.
4. Build On-Site Local SEO
Some of your content on your site can use local SEO keywords such as “Tires in Orlando” or “Orlando tires”. The links, title tags, anchor text, in-text keywords and meta descriptions should offer city and state keywords that relate to any of the service areas that are within your physical location’s reach. Link building is important to gaining traffic, so you should be linking to authoritative pages with PageRank 3 or above that relate to your site’s articles and blogs while also linking to a page on your site that is related to the content with a keyword as well.
For example, if you are selling tires, you can link a high traffic site with authority on high quality tires to the keyword “tire specifications.” Later in the same piece, include a link for the keywords “Cheap tires” but set the title of the link to “Tires in Orlando.” This can be done with the following HTML code for URLs:
<a href=”url” title=”Tires in Orlando”>Cheap tires</a>
Now that you know a few ways to develop local SEO immediately, your site can build a reputation online and easily be found by those who are looking for your products and services near your location.