Top 10 Local SEO Ranking Factors for Small Businesses
Do you want to attract local customers?
SEO provides a rare opportunity to create your own little niche within your local community.
For example, every town needs a hardware store, but you don’t need to have the most revolutionary hardware options on the market.
Your location is the niche, and embracing that with your SEO is crucial to pulling in more customers, because people make their local purchasing decisions based on one recommendation source: Google.
I figured it would serve as a handy tool if I put together a shortlist for everyone to print out and check in with on a regular basis.
Since brick and mortar businesses live and die based on their local marketing efforts, use this as your small business SEO cheat sheet.
10 Actionable Local SEO Tips
I have listed the ten major elements of a successful local search campaign including tips on:
- Leveraging business listing portals
- Social media
- Search engines
- Your business website
1. Fill Out All the Local Listing Pages
From Google My Business to Yahoo Local, optimized local listing pages are a quick way to create an identity at the top of the search engines. Not only that, but these local listing pages link to your websites and improve your SEO.
Sometimes you have to make a page, but in general you simply have to claim the pages. I would recommend searching for directories focused just on your industry as well.
Google My Business
The ultimate goal is to have the best Google My Business listing. For local businesses, it could mean having your business show up on the first page above some of the organic search results.
To get started, add or claim your business on Google My Business. When you create your profile, fill out as much information as possible and upload supplementary photos of your business.
Once your listing is live make sure to encourage your customers to write reviews of their experience on Google My Business. Each positive review helps to solidify your place in the local market as an authority in your industry.
Our local business directory has clean and verified information for businesses. We organize our listings by geographical location and industry. Allowing our customers the opportunity to effectively offer another trusted data point for search engines and clients to reference.
Yelp is one of the most well-known local search directories. You can add or claim your business listing for free and add photos and lots of additional details beyond just your contact information. Listings on Yelp have a positive effect on search rankings for Bing, Yahoo and Siri.
Yellow Pages allows businesses to add or claim free listings that include an extended description of their business, multiple categories and a link. You can also add additional photos for the business listing.
Bing Places allows you to add or claim a free listing with up to nine photos for your business.
Yahoo Local is an important piece to your local citation mission. You can add or claim a basic listing for free.
Foursquare for Business
Foursquare has over 50 million people use their platform to discover local businesses and share what they love about them with others. A more modern twist on Yelp with an easier user interface but worth the effort to claim your listing.
Beware of Duplicate Listings
Your business address or phone number might be connected to another business online. Partially because everything is recycled from time to time. Also if you have a business which has multiple employees, like a law firm, you might have numerous people connected to your physical location. The best way to find this out is to search your phone number or address in Google, Yahoo, or Bing.
2. Create a Blog and Talk About Your Community
Do you run a local flower shop? Why are you not publishing articles about the coolest things to do in your neighborhood this summer? It may not relate directly to flowers, but it connects to your business because your company is an integral part of the community.
Not to mention, these articles can get huge shares on social media and lead to lots of visitors on your website.
3. Locate the Best Local Keywords for Your Business
A Keyword Planner is a wonderful tool for figuring out the right keywords to target. When people search for local companies they generally type in the town first and then some words relating to your business. For example, you might do well with Naples Dentists vs. Dentists Naples FL.
Want to try some other ways to get keyword ideas? Try typing in your keyword ideas in Google search, then scroll down to the bottom to see the related searches. Find these keywords and make a list of the best performing ones.
4. Use These Keywords to Optimize Your Entire Website
Don’t overstuff your website, but start to scatter the best performing keywords throughout your site. Your website content should be more than a list of keywords. Instead, use your primary keyword in merely 2-5% of your conversation.
Especially if it is a long-tail keyword.
How many times can you really use a keyword like New York air conditioner repair in a sentence after all without sounding stodgy and boring?
Most blogs hear the idea of keywords and think more is better. Like everything else, moderation is best. Google has slammed a lot of blogs who just stuff keywords into everything they write.
Back in the early years of search engines, a business could easily manipulate page ranking on Google’s SERP with keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing is now considered a black hat tactic.
5. Reach Out to Local Publications to Write About You
Every town, country, city and village has publications that are looking for stories. If you released a funny new flavor ice cream at your ice cream parlor, share this with the local newspaper.
I would highly recommend seeking out travel blogs or websites that focus on your area. These are usually easier to land stories on and the good ones have huge followings – often times more than your newspapers.
Its the medias job to constantly cover new and upcoming news. You are actually doing them a favor by bringing topics to the attention. Building a friendship with the local media can help you in the future promote your business.
6. Test Your Website on all Browsers and Devices
Mobile responsiveness is a huge part of your SEO strategy, so make sure you’re using a website theme that morphs into viewable components when seen on a tablet or smartphone. Check to see how the site works on browsers like Chrome, Safari and Opera.
7. Ask Customers to Leave Reviews on Your Site and Listing Pages
Having a positive rating can help lift your business in search results, especially on sites that allow visitors to sort businesses by positive ratings.
Only legitimate reviews are going to help your SEO, but it’s not a bad thing to ask your customers to leave you honest reviews on sites like Yelp, Google My Business or even Angie’s List.
Ensure Your Contact Information is Consistent on All Pages Online
This is one of those strange parts of SEO that doesn’t seem fair, but it must have your attention. All of your websites and directory listings must have your contact information like the business name, address and phone number.
It gets weird in that it must remain exact across all sites. So, if you have Maple Street on one site and Maple St on another, this could hurt your SEO.
8. Select Social Media Used by Your Local Customers
Social media is great because you can test it out for free. Do your customers love you on Pinterest but never interact on Facebook? Get rid of Facebook and put all your energy into Pinterest.
Optimize Facebook for Local Search
The best advice I can give you to optimize your Facebook page for local search is to make sure you set up your page as a local business. This might seem simple to some but Facebook gives you several options when creating your page. But if you are interested in local customers then create your Facebook page accordingly.
After your Facebook page has been set up as a local business, make sure to completely fill out your contact information, street address and business hours. If you have a home based business just include your City, Sate and Zip code.
A complete profile gives you more credibility with search engines and helps to create a clear consistency with your NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number).
9. Fill Your Website and Listing Pages with Visual Content
Visual content plays a huge role in SEO, since it improves the user experience, and search engines can detect when a customer is bored or not interested in your content. 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text. And viewers spend 100% more time on pages with videos on them.
Fill your website and directory pages with images, videos and even audio clips if they relate to your business. If you need help sourcing visual content check out sites like 123rf.com. They have a great selection of royalty free images to fit any budget.
10. Schedule a Time Every Six Months to Test and Check
Nothing ever get done unless you put in on the calendar, so keep this page handy and remind yourself to check your SEO every six months.
It is not unusual for consumers search habits to change or for search engines to launch a major algorithm update. Each year, Google changes its search algorithm around 500 times.
While most of these changes are minor, Google occasionally rolls out a “major” algorithmic update (such as Google Panda and Google Penguin) that affects search results in significant ways.
Bonus Tip: Embed a Map
If you enter an address on Google Maps, you can get an HTML embed code to add the map to your website. Just click on the link icon to get the code.
You can also click on the “customize” link to choose sizing and other features for your map before embedding it on your website.
Copy and paste the HTML on your website.
This is a great way to help visitors to your website find your location easily, and it tells a Google search bot more about your location.
Local SEO Recap
- Claim local listings pages
- Create a blog
- Locate local keywords
- Optimize site with local keywords
- Contact local publications
- Test your website
- Ask customers to leave reviews
- Select social media used by local customers
- Fill your website and listings with images
- Check your efforts every 6 months
Keep in mind when doing local search and social optimization is that it takes time to see the fruits of your labor.
Let us know in the comments section if you have any questions about this handy little cheat sheet for local business SEO practices.
Would you add anything else to the list?