Fundamental Local SEO For Small Businesses

By December 28, 2012 Search Marketing
Fundamental Local SEO For Small Businesses

Whether you’re a restaurateur, doctor, lawyer, retailer, or marketer, if you have a local brick-and-mortar business and want to attract customers to your location, optimizing your online presence for local SEO can be an important step in increasing your exposure.

No matter what your profession is, as long as you have a website and an office, local SEO is an important piece of your marketing.

But what is local SEO? If you’re interested in driving traffic to your store or location then let’s review what that is and how to optimize for it.

What Is Local SEO?

Any kind of SEO involves on-page and off-page optimization strategies such as effective keyword use, content creation and link building. But instead of targeting global search, you aim to rank for location-based queries.

If, for instance, you have a bed and breakfast in London, you must optimize your website and pages to appear in search engine results for key phrases like “bed and breakfast in London”, “London bed and breakfast”, or “London accommodation”.

Local SEO is much more targeted and will bring you better qualified traffic to your website, as well as helping to bring traffic to your store or business. Someone searching for “bed and breakfast” may be looking for one anywhere in the world. But the only searchers and visitors you’re interested in are those looking for a business in your specific geographic area.

When someone searches by geography then you want your site and business to appear at the top of their search results.

Statistics

According to a collaboration of online surveys, approximately 58% of users trust local search results, while another 61% consider these relevant.

Based on these figures, you can see that being on top of search results is an important way your target customers can find you.

On the other hand, about 49% of local queries are performed without a certain business or brand in mind.

That means someone may be looking for a bed and breakfast, for example, but not a specific bed and breakfast. In that case, you want your site to appear in their results so they can become aware of your business and choose to visit it.

Get Your Business On The Map With Local SEO

If you wish to boost your ranking for local searches, you have to consider three fundamental signals. These consist of the following:

  1. Physical address – must be accurate, complete and consistent
  2. Reviews – preferably positive
  3. Number of reviews – more is better

With these factors in mind, you can start thinking over the right optimization techniques to determine which ones apply best to your trade.

The following tips can help you increase the likelihood of appearing in location-based queries.

1. Sign Up On Google Places

First, you need to have your business listed and then, you can claim the listing through mobile or mail. It is a simple process that involves either answering an automated phone call from your business phone, then entering the verification code into your listing, or receiving the code via mail.

You can set up a local listing without “claiming” it but it’s in your best interests to claim it because then you can add additional information and your business will appear far more legitimate.

Once you have claimed your business, you need to provide important details. These usually include your address, contact info, services or products, hours, types of payments you accept, website URL and other details. The more complete your profile, the better.

Since there are plenty of things that you need to know about this service, you can find in-depth information and several resources on this page.

2. Take Advantage Of Directory Submissions

You can benefit a little by submitting your company and website info to niche-specific web directories. Some customers still conduct searches on these portals, so don’t worry about your efforts going to waste.

As an additional tip, choose established and authoritative sites such as DMOZ, Yahoo Directory, and Best of the Web. These are among the leading portals that many webmasters choose for submissions.

3. Use Geo-Targeted Keywords

Simply put, these are additional search terms which you have added to your website with your target location.

Going back to our example of a bed and breakfast in London, you can use a variety of modifiers such as the city itself or your exact address. So, if your establishment is in Kensington, maybe you can create a key phrase like “Kensington bed and breakfast”. With such long-tailed keywords, you can reach more searchers who use different varieties of terms in their searches.

The best way to understand what people are searching for is to use a keyword research tool for ideas.

4. Combine Social Media Efforts

This method typically involves blogging and social networking, which are two of the top channels these days.

Through the former, you can come up with creative and informative content for your target market. On the other hand, the latter lets you interact with your local customers, helping you build a good relationship with them.

The SEO part comes in when you use geo-tags and locally targeted keywords in your posts and updates. Additionally, you can generate blog posts or profile updates that tackle events or issues in your locality.

This will give the search engines additional hooks, and provide more content by which searchers can find your site and business.

5. Come Up With Innovative Ways To Obtain Reviews

As I have mentioned before, you need positive feedback to boost the chances of ranking in search.

You have probably heard from other people who say that this is difficult to obtain. You can make it easier by starting with your previous clients who said that they were satisfied with your service. By encouraging these people to write a review for you, you can entice other individuals to check out your business. And if they are contented with your offers, you can encourage them to give comments, too.

However, it is important to note that the reviews should not come in droves. Although favorable ones are good, Google might flag it as suspicious if you get too many in a short span of time.

6. Create The Right URL

Do not just settle with www.yourwebsite.com. Instead, localize it by using a country domain extension that corresponds to your location.

Again, given our example city, your URL can be www.yourwebsite.co.uk. Alternatively, you can use .za for South Africa or .au for Australia. You can learn other domain extensions by looking into this resource.

7. Be Consistent

As a final note, make sure that you submit the correct information. Any information that you submit about your business should be exact from site to site. For example, the phone number and address on your website should be exactly the same as the phone number and address you add to Google, a directory or any other service such as Yelp, right down to the placement of commas and capitalized letters. The more precise you can be, the better your chances of ranking well.

Conclusion

So, there you have it, seven important tips for local SEO. If you already have a bit of knowledge on basic search engine optimization, you won’t have any problem applying these ideas.

But if you feel that you need assistance, never hesitate to seek an expert. Remember, it pays to learn from a trained person than risk losing ranking and reputation by inadvertently following bad practices.