Optimized search page rankings are at the top of every online business’ list of important business objectives. Many local businesses are missing profitable selling opportunities by failing to recognize the power of Local SEO, as a means for building local customer brand exposure and reputation, as well as a highly effective method of implementing a customer retention strategy.
Even though local SEO builds on standard SEO techniques, it is significantly different from the average SEO campaign. And aiming for a slot at the top of the local search results can be a very frustrating and rapidly moving target.
If you’ve ever used Google.com to search for a local business, you’ve noticed a rectangular box surrounding a subset of the returned results, at or very near the top of the results page. This box is in close proximity to a map that has those businesses marked off with red flags.
This Local Pack, as it is referred to is a very influential and highly coveted spot on the results page of Google search. This is reserved for the top local search results which are at the top of those companies that have met Google’s location consistency checks and local linking requirements.
Related in terms of its influence, however, are the other high ranking results returned on the first page. Google uses many factors to determine whether or not your business gets listed on this page.
In this article, we cover some techniques to assist your business’s Local SEO ranking.
1. NAP Accuracy
Name, address and phone number (NAP) accuracy is a bigger problem for small businesses than it would seem. A recent study found that nearly 90% of online small businesses express a desire to be found in local search results and directories. However, fewer than 50% of those same businesses had accurate and consistent NAP information listings in the online directories.
The negative impact of this can be double-fold. Firstly, incorrect NAP information ensures that your company will not be found in the correct locality. Secondly, and even worse, a listing detected at an inaccurate business address negatively impacts that business’ Google search ranking.
As important, is the need to have your business’ NAP listing information consistent between every online directory. Variations, even legitimate ones from abbreviations, have been known to produce false inaccuracy red flags with the same negative consequences.
2. Utilize Google’s free Business Listing Service
You will need to claim your business’ Google page, or create one, if it does not exist.
Ensure that your NAP information is accurate and consistent with your other online directory entries.
3. Ensure that your Landing Pages Implement Your NAP
Schema.org implements a local business section that businesses can utilize in the footer or contact sections of their website. This allows businesses to implement NAP in a bot friendly manner, which is not visible to your website’s visitors, with several parameters related to their NAP and other business elements.
As an example (customizable parameters are in bold):
<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/BUSINESSTYPE”>
<span itemprop=”name”>BUSINESS NAME</span>
<div itemprop=”address” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/PostalAddress”>
<span itemprop=”streetAddress”>STREET NUMBER AND ADDRESS</span>
Phone: <span itemprop=”telephone”>PHONE</span>
<a href=”http://googlemapsurl.com” itemprop=”maps”>URL OF BUSINESS MAP</a>
4. Utilize Local Review services and Site Links
The largest impact on your local page ranking will be from local reviews, especially Google reviews. Efforts spent acquiring this important customer feedback is well worthwhile and will return many times over.
Another key area is with building local citations which will also help bolster your local SEO rankings. Applications such as White Spark and Bright Local can be used to find, edit and manage local citations.
Having your business’ listing appear in the top of local search results can increase your brand and product visibility, enhance customer retention and prove to be a very profitable Local SEO strategy. In this article we briefly discussed the importance of NAP Accuracy, Utilizing Google Business listing service, Implementing Schema.org’s address service, and utilizing reviews and local site links.