Local search marketing online has become the standard for driving new customers to a local business. Below, I will discuss ten solid tips to ensure any local business has the opportunity to outrank their competitors.
Investigate Local Directories
Local search optimization, like any solid search engine optimization strategy plan, requires a bit of research. Perform a search query for your Business. You absolutely want to do this first, so you can find out which directories your business is listed on. When searching, don’t limit your queries to just your business name though; plug in different variations of your address and phone number as well. As you uncover each listing, record the link and any details about the listing in a spreadsheet.
Keep it Consistent
Consistency is key – This is where the spreadsheet comes in handy. Consistency is important so the search engines can recognize your business accurately. Do you want to help the search engines, or confuse them? Obviously you want to help them, so you will want to review your spreadsheet and make sure every single detail, in every single listing, is the exact same. A minor detail such as Suite 100 vs. Ste 100 can make a huge difference. Google can, and many times will, recognize this as a different address. Think of it as the same as having misspellings in your anchor text when you are link building.
Submit your information to any directories you aren’t currently on, except Google places (for now). This can be extremely time consuming, so resources like Universal Business Listing or the up and coming Knowem local service can help speed this up by automating some of the process. Knowem Local platform “allows profile creation on all local listing sites, GPS systems, and business directories, while incorporating Knowem’s current social media reach”. Besides the listings being valuable in an SEO sense, it also makes sure you establish a wide presences across the web so that you’re potential customers can find you.
Create your Google Places listing. Wait at least a week after your listings have been fully completed, and then submit to Google Places. The reason for this is so Google has time to scrape all of the other listings, thus giving it more authority right off the bat.
Build those Links
Include link building in your local search marketing optimization strategy. Use geo-specific keywords for the anchor text. It is best to acquire these links from other local businesses in the area, websites optimized with the same geo-specific location, or niche directories. Guest blog posting, creating social links, and placing content on article sites are useful tactics as well.
Optimize your Site
Optimize your site with geo-specific keywords. It is important to do this at the same time you begin your link building campaign. Be sure to have your address listed on every page, with a local phone number included.
Create Geo-specific Pages
Create location pages on site for multiple locations. If you have multiple locations, consider creating individual optimized pages on your website for each location. Not only does it help your customers find out information on the location closest to them, but it also clearly indicates to the search engines that you have multiple locations. Please note that you will want to create separate directory listings for each location as well.
Use geo-specific keywords in your blog posts. If you’re not blogging yet, you should be. Blog posts containing your geo-specific anchor texts, or about your different locations in general can help boosts your rankings. Consider linking to your Google places listing as well. Be sure not to overdo this though, and only include it when it seems natural.
Create a local business page on Facebook for each of your locations. But don’t just set it up and expect it to grow. Start by adding the Facebook button to your site and in your email signature to drive your website visitors to it. Ask your family, friends, and colleagues to like your page to give it that initial boost. If you have the budget, consider adding local fans utilizing Facebook’s advertising pay per click or pay per impression options. There are endless ways to promote your local business, but we’ll save that for another blog post.
Last but not least, customer reviews are a very important part of your strategy. Ever notice how your biggest competitors who are ranking well in Google Places have tons of reviews from customers? Reviews play a huge role in impacting search engine rankings, so you should encourage feedback from anyone you’ve felt has had a good experience. If by chance your business gets a negative review, be sure to address it professionally and in a way that’s going to convince that customer want to come back and give you a second try.
Let’s keep the list going. What suggestions do you have to increase the online visibility of a local business?