What is Local SEO?
Many small businesses serve a local clientele. As such, their websites should attract local visitors. After all, if you operate a brick-and-mortar business in Austin, Texas you may not need to attract a flood of website visitors who live in California. Local SEO is used to optimize a website's location so that the site ranks well for the designated community in the search results.
Local SEO can be a complex, ongoing process. But there are a few things that your small business can do right away to help search engines understand your location. Use the tips below to get started.
How to Get Started with Local SEO
1. Localize Your Website
Is your physical location only found on the Contact Us page -- or missing completely? Let's fix that. You can include your city in page titles, preferably alongside a descriptive phrase for your business. You can also mention your city in the copy of your pages or blog posts, but take care not to overdo it with your keywords. Be natural in your writing, mentioning your city when it is appropriate. Other places to consider location information are map blocks or your footer.
Related reading // How to build a website that brings you customers
2. Optimize your Contact Page
Next take a closer look at your Contact page, make sure it includes:
- Your address, city, state, and ZIP code
- A Google map pinpointing your location
- A local phone number
Related reading // How to optimize a contact page
3. Verify your Google Business listing
After your website is optimized, the next step for any Local SEO campaign is to claim your Google business listing. This is a free service which allows your business to show up in Google Search and Maps. And as you respond to Google reviews (see #5 below), you build your brand reputation and customer loyalty. The verification process can take up to 1-2 weeks.
4. Build accurate Citations
Your business may already be listed in local directories. But if you are unsure where you are listed, then find out and claim those listings. Preexisting listings may be based on old records, and thus inaccurate, making it important to claim and correct them. Whether editing an existing listing or starting from scratch, make sure to take full advantage of the listing by filling it out completely and linking to your website. It is super important to use consistent contact information for all your online listings.
A few popular directories to start with include:
- Merchant Circle
- Yahoo! Local
Getting listed with these sites can help small businesses in two ways. First, users of those sites will have a better chance of finding you. Second, when you include links to your website in these directories, search engines take notice and regard your site with more legitimacy.
If you are managing multiple locations, then it might be worth considering services like Moz Local to help ensure your online business listings are consistent across the web.
5. Encourage Reviews
Customers may already be reviewing your small business on review sites such as Yelp and Google, making it important to claim your listings so that you are both aware and able to respond appropriately. Not only that, you'll want to encourage reviews. Let your customers know how much you value them and encourage them to share their experiences with others.
Reviews on Google, in particular, are especially valuable. For example, enter a local search phrase such as "your city, dentist" into Google. Notice that big block of local search results complete with starred reviews? These reviews are pulled directly from Google and they're prominently listed.
Local SEO takes time and expertise, but it really is worth the effort for most small businesses.
Need help with your local SEO efforts?
Collaborada arms small businesses with the tools to become great. Learn more.