If you are a local business and the bulk of your business comes from customers within your community, then getting a handle on your local SEO is incredibly important. The trend is towards increased use of the web to make purchasing decisions dictates that you need to have a plan. Because:
- 98% of searchers choose a business that is on page 1 of the results they get.
- 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- 77% of smartphone users contact a business after looking for local Information
If you don’t rank well locally for the things people are searching for then you are expending efforts in marketing that may not be bearing fruit. In order to rank well locally, you need to concentrate on the following elements:
When you create brochures or sales sheets and hand them directly to a prospect, it is pretty clear that you are a local business. But, when it comes to online content, it is important to carefully spell out where you do your work.
You can do this by:
- talking about where you work
- have specific pages with case studies for specific trade areas, suburbs, and neighborhoods
- blog and post about local events and happenings
If you have multiple locations, then you may want to optimize for them all using a concept known as content silos for each location.
Optimize Google My Business
It is essential to pay attention to, claim, and optimize your Google My Business listing if your business is to ever show up in the coveted Google 3-pack for local searches.
- Make sure you take full advantage of all of the real estate and linking options available to you
- Make sure you have the right business category and subcategories chosen for your business
- Make note of the exact way your business name, address and phone number (NAP) appear. Exact meaning is it Street or St., is it Heating & Cooling or Heating and Cooling. Whatever you show listed as the NAP on your Google My Business Page, you’ll want to use consistently on your own website and across all directories
People increasingly rely on reviews to make decisions about the products and services they purchase both online and in person. Therefore, it is extremely important that you get a handle on reviews as part of your Local SEO efforts. Google factors review activity as one of the elements that helps determine what businesses show up in the 3-pack. According to a BrightLocal survey, just a few years go nearly 30% admitted they didn’t use reviews – today that number is 8%. Meaning – 92% of buyers regularly or occasionally rely on reviews when making a local buying decision. Note that you must have at least 5 reviews for Google to display the review stars as a highlighting feature of local results – that alone makes it important to acquire reviews. The key to getting reviews is to ask often and make it as easy as possible for your happy customers to log in to the relevant sites leave a review.
User Markup Properly for your Physical Address
Search engines are trying to adopt a consistent markup protocol to help use HTML code to properly identify things like businesses, reviews, addresses, books, movies and the like.
You can learn about the current popular markup for local businesses by visiting Schema.org.
Using proper markup for your address is kind of like providing an electronic business card to Google. While it may not look like anything to the naked eye, Google spiders can be 100% certain what they are looking at when it comes to identifying an address on your web pages.
To get this part right simply visit Schema.org’s Local Business NAP generator and fill in the blanks – The tool will produce the HTML code you need to add to your site in place of your current address.
Clean Up Citations
You may be familiar with directories like Yelp! and Google Local, or industry specific directories like Houze or Angie’s List, but you probably didn’t realize that Google relies on hundreds of data aggregators and directories to help them sort out and keep straight all of the local businesses out.
So, getting your listing straight on Google is essential, but if you’ve moved, or changed your phone, or just listed your details in all sorts of ways in business filings or Chamber directories, there’s a good chance Google isn’t sure which listing is correct and that’s not a good thing.
Google use many data sources to try to get the most accurate picture so it is extremely important to ensure you have this information correct on all the directories you use.