For many small business owners, local search engine optimization is far more important than general search engine optimization. For example, a plumber in Rochester, MN, doesn’t need his site to rank when someone in San Diego is searching for a plumber. He wants his site to come up every time local residents are searching for a plumber. Some of the principals of SEO are the same, but it can be easier to rank a site locally. Keep these local SEO strategies in mind when designing and promoting your business’ site.
Your Business Pages
It’s not only your own website that you need to worry about. Each of the major search engines has it’s own version of business pages that contains information about a business, such as location, hours, a link to the site and reviews of the business. You can find the links to create one for your business at Bing Places (https://www.bingplaces.com/), Google My Business (www.google.com/business/) and Yahoo Localworks (https://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/local-listings). Set this up with the basics and monitor the page periodically. These pages are some of the first to come up in search engine results.
Local citations are any mention of your business and its address or phone number throughout the web. This could be anything from a listing on your Chamber of Commerce’s website to a mention in the local newspaper. The more citations your company has, the better your chances of ranking for local searches. Seek out places to add your business information. Tools like Whitespark and MOZ Local can make this easier.
Remember that review sites often come up in search results, especially when users are seeking out businesses in a certain area. Consider joining a site like Angie’s List to help promote your business. Sites like Yelp also offer a way to improve your visibility in the local search results. The more reviews you have, the more hopping your business looks. Don’t be afraid to ask customers to write up a review of your business. These little things can make a big difference.
The words on your site do more than just sell your product or service to potential customers. Search engines “read” through them looking for signs of what your business is all about. This means that you need to include words that talk about what your business does and the area that you are in. For instance, by saying something like, “Our massage therapy services are convenient for anyone living in the Iowa City area,” you’re telling the search engines that you are in Iowa City and that your business offers massage therapy services. If you offer a variety of services, you should include a separate page for each service.
Building Your Reputation and Links
The more links you have from other websites going to your website, the better your site looks to the search engines. Guest blogging is an excellent way to improve your reputation and get a link from another site to yours. Seek out big-name blogs in your industry and write an informative piece for their blog. When you do this, people will start to see you as an expert in your field.
Paying attention to local SEO is a smart move for any business owner. Those in small towns will find that it’s easy to start ranking in the search results when local people are looking for that type of business. Local SEO in large cities is harder to do, but it is still possible when you think about it as a long-term strategy.