Local SEO, the art and science of optimizing your business website for local search, has a few more steps to it than your general SEO practice. After you’ve identified your general keywords and optimized your content for them, you still need to take a few more steps to make your local business stand out from your competition.
Most local search is performed with the intention of an immediate visit, so you want potential customers to be able to find you as they drive around town and in emergency situations, if that is relevant to your product or service.
Let’s take a look at the finishing touches to your SEO strategy, so you rank highly and are easily found by your target prospects.
Standardize Your Business Display
By standardizing your business display, we are talking about making sure your NAP information is the same from place to place on the web and across your website.
- N = Name
- A = Address
- P = Phone
You want the exact same details formatted in the same way when other websites display your business. First, decide exactly how your information should be presented, then use Schema.org markup, so it will display correctly no matter where it appears online.
Claim Your Google My Business Page
Your Google My Business page is an important factor in your Google search engine rankings. When you claim your page, it is critical that you fill out all information, especially your categories, to get the edge on your competitors.
- Use a correctly formatted, unique description that includes links.
- Select the correct categories for your business.
- Upload as many photos as you can.
- Add a local phone number to the listing, not just the toll-free number.
- Upload a high-resolution profile image and cover photo.
- If relevant, enter the days and times you are open.
- Get reviews from real customers.
Get Local Reviews
A local business needs local business reviews; they have a direct impact on your local search rankings. Although Google Reviews are important, don’t neglect other review sites such as:
- Trip Advisor
- Angie’s List
- Merchant Circle
- Local directories
Encourage your current customer base to provide reviews by giving out an incentive, such as a discount on products or services. Make it easy for them to know where to put the review by placing instructions on your website, a good thing to do if your customers are not familiar with the online review sites.
Understand Local On-Page SEO Factors
On-page SEO content weighs heavily in local search listings. Make your business stand out by optimizing your website pages for your city or region. On your landing page add the name of your city plus a relevant keyword, for example:
Houston Tax Attorney
Place the city-keyword combination in the following areas of your landing pages:
- Title tag
- H1 tag
- In the content
- Image ALT attributes
One more thing you can do to get to the top of the Google search engine page rankings is to embed a Google Map with your business marker into the landing page. Users will know immediately where you are located, making them more likely to select you.
Build Local Links and Citations
Simply put, a citation is an online reference to your business’s NAP. It does not have to be linked to your website as long as your NAP is in the same format as on your website, across citations, and around the web. (See why standardization and markup are so important?)
Links refer, of course, to links from other websites to yours. Make them count. Build links from high authority websites, preferably local to you, that talk about similar topics as you. Search engine rankings rely heavily on relevant, high-authority links so beware; don’t accept a bunch of spammy, non-relevant links. Google will penalize you.
Where should you have citations? Find out where your competitors have theirs and add yours. You can build citations through top national directories (besides Google My Business), including:
- BBB (Better Business Bureau)
- Bing Places
- Manta (especially for small businesses)
- YP Yellow Pages
- Merchant Circle
Don’t forget industry directories depending on your niche. You can find these by searching with your keywords. An example of an industry directly is Findlaw.com for attorneys.
Finally, local directories should have your information:
- Chamber of Commerce
- City directory
- County directory
- Local business listings
As a local business, local SEO is imperative to your business’s existence in today’s online society. More searches are performed for local products and services than any other. Don’t miss out; make sure your NAP information is correct, and you are listed in every relevant directory.