One of the most important factors that small business owners need to think about these days is local SEO. This refers to the fact that Google and other major search engines have implemented robust technology to help users find nearby businesses. Instead of having to look at a list of every bakery in a city, for instance, users can now see a list of bakeries within walking distance.
Location-specific searches and the results that go along with them mean that local business owners need to step up their game in terms of local SEO. While this might sound complicated, it is not all that hard. The good news is that the time you spend improving your visibility can turn into new customers. Here are some sure-fire steps to take to improve your local search ranking:
Claim your business
If you have been around more than a few months, Google probably already has a location listing for your business. You need to claim it and then verify that all the information is correct. Then do the same for your Google+ page, which may have been auto-created.
Take good pictures
Google and other search engines are moving toward providing more visual search results. If your competitors have great photos and you have none, guess who is going to get more business? Grab your camera and get a few good shots that show your customers what to expect when they visit.
Localize your website
Your website should have your company's address and phone number listed on every page. The header or footer is a good place to do this. No matter what page your customers are looking at, they should be able to find out how to contact you or get to where you are. Make sure the address and phone number listed on your site match what you put into Google.
Verify CitySearch and Yelp
If these review sites are applicable to your business, make sure that the information listed on them is relevant. Many times, the programs that populate the databases on these sites do not have good or current information. Don’t fret over the reviews these sites may contain. If you focus on providing quality products or services, the good reviews will come naturally.
Exchange links with other locals
If you have a similar customer base as other shops in your area, offer to recommend them on your website in exchange for them doing the same for you on theirs. This not only helps build a network of crosslinks, but you’ll make some new friends as well.
Offer quality content on your site
Think about what your customers are looking for when they visit your site. Are they looking for a menu? Help on planting a certain breed of flower? Suggestions on how to calm a barking dog? Give your customers help and advice for free, and they will view you as both generous and authoritative. This in turn will lead to positive reviews and improve your local search engine ranking.
Improving your site’s visibility in local results isn’t about employing a set of tricks. It’s about providing up-to-date, quality information. The more time you spend providing honest and accurate information, the more customers will find their way to your door.