It’s common to say, these days, that the internet is doing away with the need for a physical address. Whilst this is a nice line to drop at a dinner party, I don’t think it holds much weight as my town center is packed full of busy shops. How can these businesses – which are often small independents – get themselves noticed online and bring in new customers? One area to consider perfecting is local SEO.
What is local SEO?
By concentrating on geographical keywords, businesses can maximize their visibility in search results. Say, for example, you’re a menswear shop in London. If someone types in “London menswear shop” into Google they’ll be presented with the results above. If your shop isn’t featured, this means you’re missing out on potential revenue. To help reverse this, I’m going to take a look at the best practices for improving your ranking.
The first place to start is by creating listings for your local business. Google, Yahoo and Bing all offer services to help your customers find you. It’s a fairly painless process and your business can be listed in minutes and begin the rise through local SEO rankings.
NAP isn’t just what I want to do every afternoon after yet another business meeting. It also stands for Name, Address, Phone number. The main thing to remember with NAP is that it’s much like a link in standard SEO – it needs to be the same every time or search engines treat as a separate entity. You can start by making sure your NAP listed on the local service sites matches up with the NAP listed on your website.
When your business name and address get mentioned on another website, this is known as a citation. Citations are very important factors in Google and Bing’s ranking algorithms, so they need your attention. Online yellow pages receive a lot of traffic, so listing your business details there is a no-brainer. These sites are already well indexed and hold weight with search engines, so will improve your local SEO.
A great website to help increase your local ranking with ease is Schema. They specialize in creating custom markups from Schema such as NAP, but instead of covering your site in unnecessary spam, everything is hidden within div tags. This leaves your website looking pretty to readers and attractive to search engines. Schema can also increase your sites visibility by creating markups related to review sites and current events. MicroDataGenerator is another site to investigate for hassle free code generation.
Collecting reviews for your business online can also boost your local SEO. It sounds easy to write a hundred and ten fake reviews to help you on your way, but it’s not so simple. Search engines are clever little fellows and can spot fake reviews a mile off. Instead, politely indicate to your customers via signs and mailing lists the sites where they can review your business. Remember, it’s not just Google/Yahoo/Bing reviews that feature; many third party sites’ reviews are also available.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with potential new ventures for local SEO. A few months back, Pinterest launched their new Place Pins service. This helps users create personalized journeys through local areas such as “50 best bars in London”. Given time, search engines will begin to index and incorporate these pages into local search results. These are ventures which, for businesses, will take up very little time and money, but could get you one step ahead of your competitors.
Local SEO can appear quite daunting when you realize you’re going up against the big boys. However, local SEO is not being fully exploited at present, so now is an ideal opportunity to get started. The practices I’ve highlighted today should really help boost your ranking and bring in potential customers to your business.