Make sure potential customers can find your business locally on Google.
Effort is important, but knowing where to make an effort makes all the difference.
What is local SEO?
I’m sure you have done a Google search and seen the results populate at the top of the page with the map, star ratings, address and phone number. This is what I’m referring to when I say local SEO. This is Google’s Local Snack Pack. Depending on the industry, it has the potential to be the very first result on Google and can make a big difference when it comes to bringing new leads into your business.
Step 1: Create a Google My Business page.
It is free to create a Google My Business page and shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes to cross this step off your checklist. This will get your business hours, phone number and directions onto Google Search and Maps. Make sure you add pictures of your business and add a great description so people can familiarize themselves with your local brand directly from your Google My Business page. To verify this process, Google will manually send you a postcard with a pin so make sure to check your mail!
Step 2: Submit your business to local directories.
After you enter your PIN and verify your Google My Business page, you still have a lot of work left! There are hundreds of local directories across the internet where your business needs to be submitted to.
Since you are a busy entrepreneur and we only have five hours to bolster your local SEO, we are going to automate this process. Fortunately, there are services that will take care of this for you. This will be one of the most worthwhile investments you can make from a marketing standpoint.
After submitting your business to one of the aforementioned services, you will appear on sites like MapQuest, FourSquare and Yahoo Local (to name a few). This process will take you 30 minutes and it will help align your local presence.
Tip: If you have moved businesses or are not confident that all of your local listings are consistent, run this test on Moz to check your listings. It is vital that you have consistency with your brand name, address, phone number and other local indicators.
Step 3: Get reviews.
I’m frequently asked if reviews on a Google My Business page will help increase rank. The answer, unfortunately, is somewhat wish-washy. Just because you have more reviews than someone else doesn’t necessarily mean that this will help you surpass them in rank. What reviews will help you do is increase your click-through rate, an important indicator to Google. It makes perfect sense. Reviews help establish credibility for your brand. When people are deciding between firms, they are likely going to read reviews. Google likes it when you have a high click-through on the search results because it means you are clearly providing value to the user (otherwise, they wouldn’t click on your site).
Business owners should spend at least one hour coming up with a list of 50 customers or clients. Create a customized email for each brand advocate and tell them how important a review would be to your business. It is also important to train your staff to ask customers for reviews. Starting with reviews on your Google My Business page is a good start. But, don’t forget about Facebook and others.
Every week, before closing up your office, make sure you’ve gotten some new reviews!
Step 4: Acquire local backlinks.
How exactly is Google determining which local business to populate in the “snack pack” results? There is a lot of correlation between the domain authority of your website and the local SEO results.
If you are unfamiliar with domain authority, it is a score (on a 100-point scale) developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engines. I wrote an article about this if you want to learn more about domain authority. To make a long story short, to increase domain authority, you need quality backlinks pointing back to your site from external websites.
For a local company, it is imperative that you have local links pointing back to your site. If you are an extermination company, for example, make sure all of your vendors link back to your site on the “partners” section of their sites. If you have a lot of corporate clients, see if they’ll link back to you. Get involved in the local community and sponsor a youth baseball team and they should link back to you on their “sponsor” page. All of these backlinks are indicators to Google that you are a local business.
Step 5: Improve your on-site SEO.
Google is not going to know you are a lawyer in Little Rock unless you make this clear on your website. Make sure to include your business name, address and phone number on your website. In the title tag of your site, reference your local market. On your contact page, make sure to list out directions to your office and include local landmarks so people can easily find your location.
Your local search results tie back to your website. Your website needs to be a true local indicator. Don’t go overboard though; there is no need to mention Little Rock on your homepage 48 times. Google will get the point if it is naturally worked into the verbiage throughout the site.
Open for business
You want to make it known to Google that you are open for business.
If you have a local office and spend five hours in a smart and efficient manner on your local SEO, you will reap the benefits for years to come. Don’t be discouraged if your business isn’t ranking in the top three results within a week, though. Like anything in life, it can take time and continued work for Google to recognize your efforts.
Credit: JASON PARKS via www.entrepreneur.com