Local Search: #1 Local SEO Guide for Small Business Owners
Local Search is vitally important for SMB because it provides an opportunity in the search landscape for local businesses to typically rank higher than aggregators and/or national businesses with large budgets.
The engines actively incorporate information from a search user to better identify their geo-location, as well as past search history and behavior, to further tailor results displayed to them. Additionally, searching with geo-modifiers (example: san diego real estate agent) is a common practice on the web and mobile, and consumers’ expectation is that highly-relevant, top-rated local businesses will be displayed among the top ranking considerations.
The essential key is to make sure you optimize your website, as well as all online profiles to make it absolutely clear where your business is operating from, and the geographical area your business serves.
The following video from Lynda.com provides a great tutorial of how Local Search continues to evolve:
Following are the Best Practices that help establish a solid foundation:
#1.) Consistent Use of Name, Address and Phone Numbers
Sometimes abbreviated to NAP – adding your name, address and phone number to your online collateral may seem obvious, but check your website and all online profiles to make sure they are all added and accurately displayed. We find that these are frequently omitted, or not consistent, so make sure to check this off your list as an easy win. Also, make sure to use a local telephone number rather than a toll free number.
#2.) Add Location to Title Tags
The title tag continues to be one of the most important onsite SEO factors, and adding your location as a modifier to your major keyword is going to ensure the search engines understand that’s where you are most relevant. If not added as a modifier, you can add your location as a standalone keyword within the title and other tags.
#3.) Create Citation Plan
Business listings are known as ‘citations’ in SEO parlance, and they are powerful indicators for demonstrating to search engines that you are operating in a location. There are literally hundreds of sites to claim citations on, however to get started make sure your profiles are accurate and verified across: Google (Places, Maps +Local), Bing, Yahoo!, Facebook, Yelp and Foursquare.
All of these profiles are incredibly strong as geo-location indicators, of particular importance is Google+.
#4.) Invest in Responsive Design
Mobile and Local Search are inextricably related: many users looking for a local business will be trying to find you on-the-fly, and frequently using a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. Your website needs to be able to load and render effectively on every mobile device, and Google has already indicated that responsive design is the best way to achieve this.
With 90% of Mobile Searches resulting in a positive response from the potential customer, you must make sure that you can capitalize on your Local Search optimization by ensuring the user can get to your online offering on their mobile device.
We can say with certainty that implementing all of the fundamentals will allow your site to compete in Local Search: Name, Address, Phone, Title Tags, Citation, Profiles and Responsive Site Design for Mobile.
We’ve partnered with hundreds of sites representing local services, and helped earn and manage thousands of Page 1 rankings for small businesses — please use our free Keyword Opportunity Tool for a custom quote to initiate a test, or just send us a question through our Support Page.