Small business owners need an online presence, so we decided to put together these local SEO tips in order to outline some key fundamentals to a successful local search marketing campaign. Local rankings are a vital part of small business marketing, and with more consumers turning to their mobile devices when they need to find a local business or service now is the time to put more effort into your local SEO.
Let’s discuss five simple tips to help you improve your local SEO. These are the basics that are the building blocks of a successful small business SEM effort. If your small business is new, use these to lay down a solid SEO foundation and if your business is established and you have dabbled in SEO use this list to make sure you have the basics covered.
1. Claim All of Your Local Business Listings
The search engines are constantly crawling the web looking for information to use in their ranking algorithm. You not only want to make sure that your business is listed on the larger business directories, but you need to make sure that the information listed is correct. Discrepancies in your NAP (name, business address and phone number) can have a negative impact on your local rankings. If the search engines see mismatched information they will look for other listings that are more accurate to place ahead of yours. Their goal is to provide the most accurate information to their users and if there are several different addresses or phone numbers for a particular business they assume the listing is not helpful to their users.
Some of the local listings you absolutely need to have includes Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, Yahoo Local, Facebook, YP, Yelp, and Foursqure. These are just some of the national mainstream listings. There are also going to be industry specific listings you will want to secure as well as local and regional directories. Focusing on quality and relevant listings is more important than trying to secure a large amount of listings that are low quality.
It is important that you completely fill out your listing profile. The majority of businesses we perform local SEO audits for will have listings with missing information and sections that are not being fully utilized. If a listing gives you the opportunity to upload 10 images then upload 10 images. If it gives you the opportunity to include a link to your website make sure you fill that out! Don’t be lazy and just fill out a half complete listing so you can say you did it. Fully optimize every single listing. There are several tools that can help you identify listings to go after as well as look for supplicate listings and incorrect information. Moz Local is a very affordable option for business owners to use for local listing management.
2. Seek Out Local PR
Think public relations is just for large companies? Well, think again! Local press for your business not only helps to put your brand in front of your local audience, but it can also result in earning high authority inbound links. The best way to stir up local PR is to make connections with local media outlets and journalists.
Position yourself as the local expert and with the right connections you will find these media outlets coming for you when they need an expert point of view or input for a story they are working on. These types of relationships are priceless and can result in a lot of great (and free) exposure for your business.
Getting involved in your local community can also help greatly. Aligning yourself with charity and nonprofit organizations in the form of sponsorship can also help you earn high quality links. Local PR can help your business in many ways, yet most small business owners ignore this.
3. Constantly Seek Out Link Earning Opportunities
Links are a major factor when it comes to local SEO, but again many businesses take the quantity over quality mentality and end up getting their website penalized. They often fall victim to low quality SEO companies that sell them a pre-packaged link building service that is just a bunch of worthless spammy links. While it is possible to recover from a Google penalty, it is a long, tedious and expensive process.
There are some great link opportunities available that many local businesses don’t think about. As we mentioned above when we talked about local PR, charities are a great source of links. Sponsoring events will typically get your business a link on their website and if other media outlets cover the event you can also earn links from that coverage as well.
Guest blogging and creating content assets are both also very effective ways to earn high quality links. Reach out to industry blogs and offer to guest blog. This is great for link opportunities as well as branding. Also, creating a content asset such as an infographic is a great way to earn links form websites that publish it. Create something so irresistible that every publication within your industry will want to share it and link back to your website.
4. Encourage Customer Reviews
Now, you can’t tell your customers to leave reviews or give them incentive to leave a review, but you can encourage them to. Sending follow up emails containing links to your local listing profiles while letting them know that you would like to hear about their experience is a great way to help point them I the right direction.
You can publish links to your local listing profiles on your website as well. Often times if you just make them visible your customers will visit them on their own and leave feedback. You can also create a dedicated page on your site and direct your customers to it via a URL printed on your receipts. A simple “We value your opinion!” with a link to a page such as www.YourSite.com/feedback is a simple solution that draws attention without coming right out and telling them to leave a review.
Never resort to posting fake reviews — simply encourage your customers to do so by making them aware that they can, and that you would appreciate their feedback. Fake reviews are blatantly obvious and they will do more harm than good.
5. Location Optimization With NAP Focus
Your website optimization should already target keywords that describe the products or services that you sell while also referencing your location. So, if you are a dentist in Houston your pages titles and site copy should have multiple variations of local search terms such as Houston dental office, dentist in Houston, etc.
To take it even a step further reference key landmarks in the city and within close proximity to your business location. Many businesses just throw up site copy that is overly optimized and doesn’t read well. Avoid keyword stuffing – it creates a horrible user experience and it can get your website penalized quickly.
Also, it is important to include you NAP (business name, address and phone number) on a dedicated contact page, making sure that it is accessible from everywhere. If you have multiple locations make sure you include NAP data for them all. Single location businesses can also include their full NAP data in their footer.
Take advantage of these local SEO tips to help increase your organic search visibility. If you are having trouble or think your website would benefit from a link audit then contact us today for a free consultation. We love helping businesses improve their local search, resulting in increased leads, sales, customers, and revenue!