Local search engine optimization (SEO) is a bit of a tricky endeavor. It’s far different from the global SEO stuff people have been doing for years and it requires you to understand how different elements work together in order to create a cohesive strategy. And while it’s fairly easy to develop a basic understanding of how local SEO is done, diving deeper to understand why you should be doing certain things can get confusing fast.
For example, online directory listings is a key element that should be included in a solid local SEO strategy. However, it’s important that before you begin submitting your site to online directories, you have to have other elements in order and then you have to understand which directories are more favorable than others. And then you need to understand how to craft the perfect online directory profile in order to maximize its effectiveness.
See? It can get confusing.
This article is designed to help take the mysticism out of local SEO and help you craft a solid strategy that is not only straightforward, but effective.
Accuracy and consistency in online listings.
While it may seem somewhat remdial to bring this up, having consistency online is the key to having potential customers find you online. It’s even harder to search engines to connect the dots between two different sources to determine whether or not they are the same business when the addresses or phone numbers don’t match. Before you get started, make sure that you have the name, address, and telephone number of your business that you want to use and that it matches what’s listed on your website.
Here’s why it is important:
A ConstantContact survey has shown that while well over half of local businesses depend on local search results to drive traffic to their doorstep, less than half have ever updated an online listing for their business. What’s worse is that many of these same business owners know that the information out there is inaccurate, most say that they just don’t have the time to spend updating all of the inaccuracies.
Unfortunately, it is these inaccuracies that will kill all of your local SEO efforts. It is the 3rd biggest negative ranking factor for small businesses. This makes it extremely difficult for small businesses to even get business listings.
Of course, you also need to ensure that all of the other information listed about your business is both accurate and consistent.
Building full-fledged social-media accounts.
Did you know that you don’t even have to have a website in order to benefit from local SEO? It’s true. Local SEO is designed to bring customers to your doorstep, not your website.
That doesn’t mean that you should skip having a website as many customers use the internet to do their research before they ever visit a store, it just means that it’s not required to benefit.
Many customers will use your Facebook page or Google Places profile as your landing page rather than your conventional website. This means that many customers won’t even spend the time to look for your website, defaulting instead to visiting your Facebook page or your listing on Yelp, TripAdvisor or other page. And this means that you need to have fully fleshed out social media pages to give them somewhere to go.
Begging for reviews
Last but not least, you need to begin to amass positive reviews about your business in social circles. Google places a great deal of emphasis on what others are saying about your business, which means that if you want to rank better, you need to get people talking about you.
It is important to mention here that while you can always encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews on various websites, you can’t buy them. Customers (and Google) can spot fake reviews from a mile away and using them will destroy your credibility with both. Ask customers to leave reviews, offer them an incentive for doing so, but stay far away from companies that offer to sell you favorable reviews.
Local SEO is the key to success for businesses that depend on local foot traffic for sales. By incorporating these tips, you can begin to develop a solid strategy that will boost sales and more.