If you run a local business, you want to get noticed in the search engines. It’s a good way to generate more customers. If you want your business on the first page of Google search result page, you need to do optimize your site for local SEO/
By the end of the post, you’ll learn how to put your site in the local business pack on google. Not sure what “pack” is? It is the collection of 3 local results Google show on the front page:
This is where you want your business listing to be to be if you want consistent clients. Every year Moz studies what you need to do to get into the pack. Below you can see 2017s. I will show you how to get all 8 signals.
Add Your Business on Google My Business
Without adding your business to Google My Business listing, your business won’t appear on local map listing in the search engine result pages. For example, I searched for “Plumbers Brighton”. Google gave me a list of all the plumbers in Brighton listed on Google My Business. Most people use this listing to find their plumber. If your business appears in this list, you will see an increase in your customer number.
Adding your business on Google My Business page is pretty easy. Just go to www.google.com/business and click on “Start My Business”.
Fill in all the information and confirm your business through the verification process. Leave no information out and when you are uploading pictures of your business, pick compelling ones.
If you need some help adding your business, read this post.
Do Keyword Research
When you search for something, you do it via keywords. For example, for plumbers in Brighton, I searched “Plumber Brighton”. Others could use “Plumbers in Brighton”, “Brighton Plumbers”, “local plumber Brighton” and many more. If I was a plumber in Brighton, my goal would be to appear on the top of the search engine results pages for these keywords. This way, when people search using these keywords, they will see my business & hire me.
Your goal is to find keywords that people will use to find your business. How do you find these keywords? You can steal keyword ideas from your competitor. One tool you can use to do that is Google Keyword Planner. To use it, you need a Google AdWords account (It’s free). Login to your AdWords account and open Google Keywords Planner. Paste one of your competitor’s landing page URL in here. Specify the location of your business. Then click Get Ideas.
Google will show you keywords that it thinks are most relevant to that business. Make a list of all the keywords that have more than 100 monthly searches. You will optimize your website for these keywords.
If you have a budget, you can use premium tools like Moz, SemRush or Ahrefs to find more details about your competitor. But Google Keywords Planner is enough for most people.
Optimize your Website
I assume you have a website. IF you don’t have one create one using WordPress. Wordpress is incredibly easy to use. Creating a website isn’t enough. To rank well, you need to optimize it. Here’s how you can optimize your site for local SEO:
Install A SEO Plugin
If you are using WordPress to run your site, install the Yoast SEO Plugin. It will help you optimize your website for search engines. Here’s a good beginners guide to Yoast. When you are creating a page, Yoast will show you a meta box right below the larger text area where you write your content. In this meta box, you insert the main keyword you want to optimize that page for and Yoast will show you what you need to do to optimize for that keyword. Use this plugin to optimize all the pages on your website. You will see a boost in your ranking.
Keep in mind, you should use more than one keyword on every page. Put your main keyword in the Yoast meta box. Include other 4-5 keywords in your content.
Create a contact page
You need to create a dedicated contact page. On your contact page, include your business’ name, mobile number, email address and physical address. If you have more than one store/office, include an address of all the stores. If you have more than 10 location, you need to create separate websites for all of them.
More are more people are using mobile to visit websites. A large percentage of your visitor will use mobile devices. According to HubSpot, 76% of local searchers end up making a phone call. So make phone numbers clickable. Otherwise, visitors have to switch apps to type in numbers manually. They may get annoyed and end up not calling you. To make your phone number clickable, just include it like this:
<a href=”tel:+1-303-499-7111″>+1 (303) 499-7111</a>
You need to add the number using the international dialling format. First the plus sign (+) then, country code, area code, and number. Separate each segment of the number with a hyphen (-).
As you are a local business, you also need to add a map. A map will make it easier for people to find you. Almost everyone use Google map to find the location of a business. Adding a map will only take you a minute or two. Here’s how you can do it.
Add Schema on your Website
Schema helps search engines understand what a website is about. If you add Schema markup for local business in your website, Google will understand you are a local business & treat you like one. This can boost your local ranking.
Too add Schema on your site, go to JSON-LD Schema Generator. On the left side, include information about your business and copy the code from the right side.
Now paste the code on the <head> section of your website.
Add Your Website on Review Platforms
When it comes to local searches, right below Google’s 3 packs, you see review sites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc. You need to create an account on those sites & try to collect reviews there. You can find other review sites by searching “[target location] reviews” or [industry] [target location] reviews”. Add your business to those sites.
Write Blog Posts
Blogging will help your SEO a lot. Create a blog on your main site and write regular contents there. If you write good content, people will link to you. Links are the most important ranking factor when it comes to local SEO.
Keep your blog in your business’ main domain name. For example, your blog’s address could be www.yourdomain.com/blog. Don’t choose any sub-domain (blog.yourdomain.com) or a different domain address. If you do, the backlinks you get won’t help your main business site.
Try not to write about your business. Don’t talk about your products or service. People who will visit your blog can find what service you prefer on your homepage. In your blogs, only provide information that will benefit your readers in any way. Otherwise, you won’t get backlinks.
Try to incorporate local city and neighbourhood name when you are writing. Write about local events & issues related to your industry. You can cover upcoming election, community event, fair from your, a local business owner’s point of view.
You can also try to build relationships with related business blogs (avoid direct competitors) in your area. Leave thoughtful comments. Mention their blogs on yours. Ask them if they would be willing to link to you.
By now you have registered your business on Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Reviews.co.uk and similar sites. People who visit these sites (that means almost everyone) read reviews and check rating before contacting a business. According toone research, 92% customers read online reviews before making a decision on their purchase.
So you need good ratings. It will give your business credibility. Poor ratings mean you’ll lose business. A lack of ratings doesn’t instil trust or confidence in your brand. Well-reviewed businesses also ranks higher & gets featured in search results.
You’ll get bad reviews here and there. Every business does. When you get one, respond professionally. And if it’s a constructive criticism, try to improve that aspect of your business.
Google review has the most impact on Google local rankings. Focus on it. You can create a shareable Google review link. Share it with your customers. Ask them to leave a review. If any customer compliments you via phone or email, politely ask them to write their compliment in a review.
Write a sincere thank you to everyone who leaves a good review.
Include the link to your website. Make sure your visitors don’t have to find it. But before sharing the link, very carefully read Google’s review policy. For example, you can’t offer incentives in exchange for reviews.
Keep in mind, acquiring reviews should be an ongoing process. The total number of reviews, the frequency by which you get online reviews, the diversity of the reviewing websites, all impact your business’ search engine rankings.
Also, include some of the good reviews on your website home page.
Citations are the mention of your business name, address, and phone number together anywhere on the web. These the are also know as (NAP). If one website mentions your (NAP), you have got one citation. The address has to be your business’ real physical address. Anything else won’t work. If you have more than one location, you have to build citations for every address.
Note that citations are only mentions of your name, address & phone number. There doesn’t have to be a link back to your website.
Citations play an important role in local SEO. Search engines use it to validate their index. The more citations you have across the web, the better positioned your website will be on search engines. So try to list your business on as many relevant, local business directories as you can. You can find some regional directories on Best of the Web. You can also search “[Target city] directory” or “[Industry] directory” to find others. Also don’t forget popular ones like Yelp, Hotfrog, and Foursquare.
Before I have mentioned building relationship with local sites to get backlinks from them. You can also build relationships and get your business listed on their site. You can find local blogs by searching: [target location] [niche/industry] blog. But you don’t have to target only local blogs. Target industry-focused blogs & directories.
Getting citations from older, higher quality blogs will help your SEO more than getting it from lower quality blogs. So target high quality and authoritative websites first. Then gradually expand your reach and target more websites.
You can check whether a website is high quality by checking their domain authority. You can use MozBar to check a website’s domain authority.
If you have little resources, like most local businesses, getting on the front page can be damn hard. But if you do everything I have mentioned here & keep doing them, you’ll climb the local SERPs. You’ll also get more traffic & customers & grow your business.
Don’t only focus on SEO. Invest in social media & participate in the local community. Join local organizations. Provide the best service you can.