Local SEO, done properly, is a complex and continuing task. As search engines such as Google have become more skilled at sensing the actual intent of the user, optimizing your content for local search is the key to success when depending on local customers for your business.
According to Akea Web Solutions, a Haslett, Michigan local SEO firm:
The major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) now depend on more than just the actual search term to decide what to present to the user. Search engines want to deliver search results that are most relevant based not only on the term itself, but on location.
As a greater share of search is conducted with mobile devices, users are increasingly querying “local”, oftentimes searching for business directions or phone numbers while on the go. In order for search engines to deliver the most useful and accurate results, properly performed local SEO must be a priority to survive in today’s environment.
What you can do today to increase your local SEO performance
Here are some things you can start to do right now to increase local search traffic.
Google Places for Business
Every business should claim their Google Places for Business page. It is free, targeted traffic for your business. Take special care to enter all of your contact, address, hours and profile information completely and accurately. Once you do this, print a copy and make sure you use this exact information, presented the same way, across all other local platforms.
Add your business category information to give Google a better idea of exactly what you do. This signals them to associate you with any local searches in your category.
Check your location on the Google map once you complete this. Make sure that you are pinned in the correct place on the map.
Link Google Places to Google+ Local
If you do not have a Google+ page for your business, you need it now. This page is your social interaction page with your local customers. It can contain product or service reviews, videos, photos, comments, and more.
Google+ Local results are so dominant in search that you will never be found unless you do this, especially in a competitive business segment. If mobile customers are actually searching through the map for location, this is the only way you will be found.
How to create an effective Google+ Local page
Treat your Google+ Local page just like a web page, use keywords. – Include any branded terms, any keywords you want to target, as well as the location of the business. Make sure that you use the keywords in a natural way, not a spammy, uncomfortable way. You want clients to enjoy visiting your page as much as Google.
Make sure you place your business in the correct category. – The most relevant category drives the most targeted traffic. If you are a restaurant that specializes in seafood, use “seafood restaurant” instead of only “restaurant”.
Use schema markup to display more useful information. – Schema markup, properly done, displays additional information like ratings, menus, and other useful information to search clients.
Make sure you use your business name and address in a consistent format. – Your business name and address are key ranking factors for local SEO. Make sure that wherever your name or address appear, they appear exactly the same. If your business is mentioned on a local blog, online newspaper or other website, these citations transfer authority only if they are consistent.
Ask every customer for a review. – For local SEO, this is probably the most important ranking factor, equal to authoritative links in regular SEO. Make sure to direct your customers to one place to leave reviews – 100 reviews on your Google page is more valuable than 100 reviews at 10 different review sites.
I know this sounds like a lot of work, and it is. Local SEO is like eating an elephant – take it a bite at a time. If you want some direction getting your business noticed, talk to our contributor to this article, Akea Web Solutions.