Does your company have a physical location you wish clients and customers to visit? If so, you need to put some effort into local SEO. Doing so will help ensure you are listed above your competitors when people search for local companies that provide your products and services. Here is a quick, clear guide to the five components of local SEO.
The first component of local SEO is good on-site optimization. Use general on-site best practices, and include your full business name, address and phone number on each page of your website. The header or footer is a good place for this. Ensure this information is in the exact same format as it is in your Google Places profile. Additionally, ensure your home page title tag and meta description includes your city and state. You can include your zip code, too, but don’t exceed 70 characters (including spaces) in your title tag.
Google Places Profile
The next most important thing you can do for local SEO is to claim your Google Places listing. The more complete your profile, the better your chances, so provide 100% of the information it requests. Include images, videos, links and more. Use keywords in your business description, but only use keywords that are relevant, sound natural, and are important for accurately describing your business. If you use keywords in the title or stuff your business description with keywords, Google will see this is an unnatural attempt at optimization.
Citations / Local Directories
Another important component of local SEO is citations. A citation is anywhere online that states your business name, address and phone number in exactly the same form as your Google Local listing. The more citations your site has, the better. To acquire citations, you’ll need to claim or establish profiles for your company on as many prominent local directories as possible, such as Manta, MerchantCircle, Yelp, and others. Ensure the information on these websites match the information on your Google Places profile. For example, don’t spell out “Street” in your Places profile and abbreviate it as “St.” in other local directories. You can use the Yext service to claim your profiles on local directories and ensure they include the correct citation, though there is a cost.
Google Places Reviews
The number of positive reviews your business has on your Google Places profile, the more likely you are to rank high in local searches. To get positive reviews, the first and most important thing you have to do is deliver a great service or product and make customers happy. Along with that, include a link to your Google Places profile within email communications, especially emails following a customer purchase or visit. Additionally, you can include signage inside your business reminding customers that they can leave a review on your Google Places profile.
Proximity to City Center
Unfortunately, this is one you don’t have much control over. Google will usually list businesses closest to the center of a city first. So, if you are on the outskirts of town, you may be at a disadvantage. Additionally, if you aren’t inside a city you wish to appear for in searches, you will also have a tougher time.
So, the best plan for improving your local search rankings is: optimize your website, claim your Google Places profile, create citations in reputable local directories, and work to get positive Google reviews. Doing so will help you beat your local competitors in the battle for search engine rankings.