Traditional SEO (search engine optimization) is focused on creating unique content that builds authority for your website for a targeted list of buyer keywords. While local SEO campaigns still require relevant high-quality content, local SEO is really all about location – establishing your business as the local go-to source for your niche within the geographic area that you serve.
A strong local online presence is critically important for small business owners, with local search traffic delivering more leads and a greater return on investment than any other marketing channel, according to a recent study conducted by BrightLocal. In contrast, social media and pay per click ads typically deliver the lowest return for your marketing investment. The first step to transforming your business into a powerful local authority and driving more calls and visits to your website is to claim and optimize your Google My Business (formerly Google Local) page.
Why is Google My Business So Important?
Whenever potential customers are searching for the products and services provided by your company, the results they are shown are based on the information drawn from your Google My Business listing. Without an optimized profile, your chances of ranking well in the search results are slim to none – especially if your competitors already have an optimized local Google profile. To help you get started and stay on track, here are 5 tips for building a powerful lead-generating Google My Business presence.
1. Maintain Consistent NAP
Your business name, address, and telephone number (NAP) are the “fingerprint” that identifies your business and the geographic area where you provide products or services. It’s essential that your NAP information is identical wherever your business is mentioned across the Internet in order for Google to find and present your listing to searchers. An easy way to guarantee consistent NAP is to create a “master” profile of your business information and save it in a computer file. Wherever you add a directory listing for your business, simple copy and paste from your “master” file.
2. Select the Right Business Category
As you’re building out your Google My Business profile, you’ll be asked to select the one category that best describes what your company is all about. Be sure to make a note of the suggestions that appear in the drop-down window when making your category selection – you can include some of the most appropriate of these keyword ideas in your business description write-up.
3. Give Yourself a Backlink
Here’s a neat little trick that many marketers overlook. When writing your business description (300 to 500 words) you can add a line of text such as “For more information about our company, visit our website at XYZ.com.” Find the hyperlink button at the top of the Description box and link your anchor text to your website URL.
4. Collect as Many Citations From Quality Sites as Possible
A citation is simply a mention of your NAP information on high-quality online directories and websites that are related to your business niche or to the geographic area you serve. The more citations you have, the higher your website is likely to rank in the local search results. A good starting point would be to get citations from local and regional trade groups and associations, your local chamber of commerce, and the review sites that appear in the local search results for your targeted keywords.
5. Make Sure Your Profile is Complete and Accurate
In addition to your basic NAP information, Google will ask you to provide details about your hours of operation, the geographic areas you serve, and to upload a number of photos about your business. Be sure to furnish as much of the requested information as possible – it helps Google determine how important and relevant your business is to local search users.