Since its beginnings, the Internet has been everyone’s go-to answer for information about the rest of the world, providing us with a readily accessible means of reaching out to every corner of the globe from the comfort of our own homes. Recently, however, more and more people have been turning to the Internet to connect with all things local; from activities to events, from shopping to small service business connections. The advent of the smart phone and the mainstream use of mobile apps and technology has made it possible to stay connected even in your car, driving around town looking for a new restaurant, a nearby barber, a local web designer, etc. With this in mind, how is one to optimize their small business web presence for search engines?
The number one, most important element to small business SEO is the practice of registering your business with every possible business directory. Many of these directories are no doubt already familiar to you. A small business owner would be remiss to exclude registering with Google+, Yelp, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Yellow Pages to name a few. When deciding which directories to utilize, its also important to research which offer the highest rated citation influence (the amount of times your business is cited elsewhere on the web.
The next most important consideration when maximizing your local SEO is summed up in the acronym NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number). It is extremely important to ensure that every mention of your small business, on any website or in any directory, should present consistent information about your business name, business address, and business phone number. If these elements are perfectly synchronized in every mention of your business, local search engines and webcrawlers will more easily and accurately identify your business and increase your ranking. Assuming you also have a website, the correct web address carries just as much (if not more) weight as does your name, address, and phone number.
Social media and networking, in many cases, can improve your local SEO rating substantially, and can also be used to directly reach out to potential clients and customers who have already expressed an interest in your products and/or services. For example, a Facebook business page provides not only an SEO opportunity, but also an avenue of communication between your target demographic and you. If you post an event from your Facebook page, including your business name, address, and phone number, that post could potentially be spread by your fans across multiple social media and other websites, improving your SEO ranking considerably!
Last, but not least, some sites and directories allow for reviews and ratings of local businesses. Assuming you do good, honest business, this is a spectacular way of increasing your web presence in a way that will lend real credibility to your business while improving your citations and linkbacks (links to your business directory profile and/or website from outside sources), which in turn improves your SEO ranking even more. Sites like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Angie’s List, to name a few readily accessible examples, present reviews and ratings in a prominent way on your directory listing.
We have officially come to a point in our history where it is nearly impossible to survive as a business without establishing a strong, online presence. Even a bar in a heavy foot-traffic, downtown area will benefit greatly from attention being paid to rising customer dependency on the World Wide Web. It would be extremely wise to devise an online marketing plan for your business with a meticulously constructed local search engine optimization strategy. A fantastic source of learning and reference for local SEO information is located here: https://moz.com/learn/local