In addition to the on-site SEO, social signals and legitimate backlinking, that we have previously spoken about, there is another type of SEO which is specifically targeted to local businesses.
If you own a bricks and mortar business, like a dentist, clothing shop or bakery, where clients come to you, then you qualify for local rankings in Google’s search engine. In another scenario, where you go out to your customers, such as plumbers, tree cutters and electricians do, then that type of business is allowed to be part of the local listings. If you can logically justify that you are a local business with local customers, then you might find yourself in the search results for your chosen profession or trade.
But, here is where it gets tricky. You can have a business that you legally register locally, but since you neither go to customers nor they come to you, it is questionable whether or not that business qualifies for a local listing. Basically, your business address is there because you reside there. Your customers may be across the world, and thus, you are not really a local business.
Further, to qualify, Google has strict criteria for its first set of shown results. When it first started with the local searches, there were ten spots available that looked different than the rest of the results. Then, as the spots became more competitive, and as businesses tried to rank for cities that they did not even have a physical location, the rules became stricter and there were less places to occupy. It had moved to seven, then six and now three premium positions.
So, as you can imagine those positions are tightly held by the businesses that got there. They really focus on their Local SEO, so that they keep their position and ultimately get more customers through free advertising and organic traffic.
In order to either gain or maintain those ranking positions, a business must do several seo-related tasks. And they must continue to do so. The process is not a one-time deal. It is ongoing.
Task #1 – On-Site
On-site SEO is crucial, but in this case, we are not necessarily talking about the ALT tags and keywords. You have to go one step further. Your content needs to contain your city’s or region’s name. It has to be apparent that your business does business in the locale you are targeting.
Additionally, your site will need the business name, address and phone number prominently displayed to be indexed by the search engines. This doesn’t need to be bold in the middle of the homepage, but should definitely be on a Contact Page and/or in the Footer Section of your site. A map may help, as well.
If you live in a region that encompasses a couple towns, then make sure you work those town names into your content. For example, if you have testimonials, state the person’s name and where they are from. This is natural and not only helps your customers, but also attracts the search engine bots.
Remember, too, that the address should be in clear, readable HTML. Do NOT bother sticking it in a popup, graphic, a flash screen or some other fancy doodad. Simple is the only way search engines can operate. Plus, why confuse your customers?
Task #2 – Directories
Next, add your business listing to local directories to reinforce your position in the neighborhood. BUT, be VERY careful here. Your information must match exactly what you put on your website. Make sure the address is written the exact same way and the phone number is the same.
To ensure you have an exact replica, copy and paste direct from your website. You may know that Street and ST, are the same, but a bot does not. It does not think it is the same business and you lose leverage. The process of always using the same information is called “NAP Citations” (name, address, phone).
Task #3 – Testimonials
These are different from the testimonials you write on your own website. Make it easy for your customers to compliment you on the internet. Maybe even provide a card, so they know where to leave their testimonial. For example, on Facebook, Google+, Yelp, or local directories.
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