Local search engine optimization is an essential tool that allows brick-and-mortar businesses to draw in customers from the online world. Here are 9 tips for businesses looking to leverage the power of local SEO.
Create Local Listings
The three major search engines, Google, Yahoo and Bing, each have local directories of businesses and attractions. These directories list businesses by category and location, and include handy information for potential customers like addresses, phone numbers, hours and so on. Of course, you have to submit your business to each directory—the search engines won’t do it for you. Once your business is listed, customers searching for your type of business in your area will see you in search results.
Claim “Orphan” Listings
Sometimes the job of submitting your business to a local directory page has already been done for you. Maybe a satisfied customer took it on themselves to put your business on the online map. But having listings for your business just floating around isn’t a good idea in the long run. What if your business name, address, phone number or hours change? The good news is business owners can usually claim “orphan” listings to make sure they are up-to-date.
Google’s new carousel design puts customer reviews right at the front of search results for local businesses. Don’t pay for fake reviews; instead, offer your customers special offers, discounts and deals in exchange for favorable reviews.
Use High-Quality Photos
With the release of Google’s latest search algorithm, high-quality photos have been added to the list of factors that contribute to page’s search rankings. Add high-resolution photos to the Google+ page for your business, and be sure to include your business name and address in the metadata of your images. Metadata lets search engines know what the image is of and other details such as when and where the image was taken.
Google+ may have failed as the Facebook-replacement it was meant to be, but that doesn’t mean Google is planning to scratch the social network. Instead, Google+ is gradually transforming into a business directory, and that is having an effect on local SEO. Like it or not, having a Google+ page for your business can help boost your rankings in Google’s organic search results.
Yelp and Beyond
A lot of business owners already have Yelp pages, where users can review and comment on different establishments. Yelp is a great resource, but it isn’t the only business-listing service out there. For restaurant owners, in particular, Yelp and UrbanSpoon are crucial resources to expand local SEO. Having multiple listings on services such as Yelp, UrbanSpoon and Angie’s List can add depth to your online presence.
Simply put, a citation is a link to site or a mention of your business on another site. Sites that have many citations—many sites that link to them—are ranked higher in search results than those that have less. Getting citations can be difficult at first, but there are successful strategies. Find charities, businesses and local organizations that list and link to their sponsors and partners online, then donate, collaborate and contribute to boost your site’s online presence.
Use Schema Markup
For the uninitiated, a schema is a kind of markup that makes it easy for search engines to present relevant information about your business to customers. A schema holds information so that search engines can query it easily and present it quickly in search results. If you have a website for your business, your should definitely incorporate a schema including details like name, address, phone number, hours and more. The local business markup at Schema.org makes this task very straightforward. Fill in the blanks, copy and paste the code into your site’s footer section and watch as search engines elegantly present information about your business to customers.
Having a mobile-friendly version of your website is perhaps the most important thing you can do as a business owner to increase online-to-offline conversion. Research shows that 80% of local searches on mobile devices lead to real-world purchases. Business owners who don’t leverage the power of mobile are missing out on a huge market of potential customers.