Local Search Basics
The internet has people believing in removing the need for having a physical address. This may be true for some types of businesses that can survive solely online. Most businesses though still require a physical address as they are in your local community. Local search engine optimization (SEO) for these businesses are critical as it helps their business on the search engines. Many small businesses will benefit from doing local SEO and is something businesses need to work on.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is rethinking your keywords for your website to include and concentrating on geographical keywords and keywords using major tourist information to help increase visibility in your search results. If you are a coffee shop in a town, you will want to use keywords that mention your town (e.g. “Chesterton coffee shop”, “Indiana Dunes coffee shop”) rather than just “coffee shop”. By providing more localized information, you stand a better chance of not missing potential revenue.
The first place to start is by creating listings for your local business. Google, Yahoo, Bing and SuperPages all offer services to help your customers find you. Filling out and verifying the information will take some time for each one and may require a post card or phone call to verify that you are the actual owner of the business. Doing this the first time will take the most amount of time but is something that should also be looked at and verified for accuracy and changes on a monthly basis and should be part of any SEO strategy you have.
The information you put into the local search categories should be the exact same for all of the search engines. Your name, phone number, address and description information should always match so that you provide a consistent and accurate image of your business. Whenever possible you should include your hours, link to your website, Facebook and other social media pages.
The ultimate free advertising is when other businesses, whether it be your local chamber of commerce, newspaper or other source positively mentions your company name, address, website and/or phone number on their sites. This citation information plays an important factor for Google and Bing is ranking algorithms to help you move up in the search results.
Reviews and Testimonials
Collecting reviews and testimonials for your business online can also boost your local SEO efforts. It sounds easy to write tons of fake reviews to help you on your way, but it is not so simple. Search engines have become smart in figuring out what real and fake reviews are. When they spot fake reviews it can actually lower your websites credibility and move your search results off pages one.
Using social media can also improve your local SEO. You can use Pinterest’s new Place Pins service. This service allows users to create personalized journeys through local areas such as “50 best coffee shops in Chesterton”. Given time, search engines will begin to index and incorporate these pages into local search results.
Local SEO can appear quite daunting when you realize you are going up against the every business. The key with local SEO is you are only going up against those in your local area. This is a much smaller and market than the entire internet and can show many more gains for your business than doing organic SEO alone.