Mastering SEO can be complicated for any business. However, the challenges of businesses targeting a local audience are quite different than those that cater to a national one. With some work, though, you can make sure the consumers in your area can find you. Below are six tips for improving your Google local search rankings.
1. Claim Your Business Listing on Google Places
The first step to making an impact on your Google local search standing is to take advantage of Google Places. To put it simply, Google Places is the search engine’s business directory. In certain cases, your business may already be in this directory. Google automatically adds businesses that are listed in the phone book for example.
If this is the case, you can find the listing using the “get started” link and claim it as the business owner. You will have the ability to edit the information after being verified. If not, you can create the listing on your own.
2. Leverage Your Area Code
One way to improve your local search ranking on Google is to list your phone number that has a local area code as your primary business number. Google actually factors this into its algorithm when producing relevant local search results. While having a toll free number without your area code may be good for business, it should only be listed as a secondary business phone number.
3. Multiple Locations Require Multiple Listings
Many small business owners own small franchises. If you own say five sandwich shops in central Wisconsin, you shouldn’t create a single Google business listing and expect the search engine to split it up into five different brick and mortar locations for you.
Instead, go into Google Places and create a specific entry for each location. Make sure the addresses and phone number listed are relevant to that physical location. You should also consider creating separate web pages for each location as well.
4. Use Location Focused SEO Strategies
You also need to focus your website on your physical location. One way to do this is by including the city name in the website title. Instead of “Bub’s Subs,” it could be “Bub’s Subs – Madison, Wisconsin.” You should also implement the location into other parts of your SEO. This should include meta descriptions and content. Using images is another strategy. Take photos of the business and then use the city as part of the image’s name. This will give you a presence in the image portion of search results as well.
5. Leverage Online Reviews
One thing that can benefit your local search ranking that you may have not thought of is online reputation. For businesses, this comes in the form of online reviews, and Google Places does have a review feature.
While there is also the risk of negative word of mouth, this will probably not be the case if you already have a loyal customer base. In fact, you may even want to ask certain individuals to provide you with a review based on their experience of your business. Overall, businesses without any reviews are likely to be listed under those that do.
6. Prominently Display Your Phone Number and Address as Text
On your official website, you should make sure the phone number and street address of your business are prominently displayed on the index page. However, some businesses make the mistake of including the phone number and address on an image file. A search engine spider will not be able to read the text from the image. Instead include it in standard text somewhere it easy for anyone to locate.
Overall, using localized SEO practices to gain a favorable Google local search ranking is slightly different than obtaining a more generalized search ranking. However, with a few extra steps, you can make sure customers do have the ability to locate your business.