With more consumers searching for local businesses with their smartphones than ever before, no business can afford to ignore local search. Gone are the days when you could optimize for local search simply by link-building. Link-building is still important but Google now takes a complex array of factors into consideration when placing a business on the first page of a local search result. Below are a set of steps that you will need to take to get your business to the top of local search engine results pages.
1. Claim Your Profiles
The most important of these is your Google My Business page. This page can help you to communicate with your customers and gain exposure. Make sure that the information listed is up to date and is kept up to date as your business changes. You will want to optimize this page by making sure that the location, phone number and other relevant information is correct. Make sure that your customers are able to find you. This page also opens up a path of communication between you and your customers.
2. Get on Third Party Listings Websites
Websites like Bing, Yelp and Yellow Pages can help local customers to find your business. The listings on these pages are sometimes referred to as “citations.” You will want to make sure that the information contained in your citations is correct. Your profiles on these third party websites should have information on what you do, as well as contact information like your phone number and address. You profile should also have a link to your website. The information should be consistent. Neither Google nor Bing likes inconsistent information and inconsistencies can affect your rank. For example, the business name should be exactly the same wherever it occurs, as well as your phone number. Similarly, the information should be consistent across your social media profiles and on review sites.
3. Use Social Media
A social signal is sent to search engines whenever someone likes, shares or follows content on your website. Social signals can help you to gain credibility. Try to interact with as many of your local followers as possible as regularly as possible.
4. Make Sure That Your Website is Mobile Friendly
Just recently, Google announced that more searches are conducted on mobile devices than on desktops and laptops. More consumers are searching with their smartphones than any other device. This is especially so for consumers who want local services. It is therefore crucial that your website be easy to use for potential customers who are looking for a local business. If someone has a hard time searching on your website, odds are that they will simply move on to one of your competitors.
5. Encourage Reviews
One of the main ways that Google uses to identify a business that is legitimate and active is the number of reviews. It should go without saying that you must never ever have fake reviews for your business. Aside from the problem of being unethical, fake reviews can create major headaches for you when customers or search engines find out what you are doing. Trust and credibility are important for local SEO and having genuine reviews is one of the best ways to gain these. It is important that you follow the right method for getting reviews. You cannot bribe your customers for reviews. One option is simply to provide your customers with a list of review websites like Yelp, and explain to them that you would like to hear what they have to say about your business. You can ask for reviews via a page on your website, or you can send a request for feedback out via email.