SEO aka Search Engine Optimization is a term that in this day and age every local business owner should recognize. If you don’t know, or are scratching your head trying to figure it out the acronym. You need to read this article and, chances are that your website — You do have one, right? — is likely only found if someone types in your URL directly. SEO is the means by which a website is optimized for search and everyday there are literally millions of searches that are performed on Google.
Here are a few quick statistics:
- There are over 7.5 billion local searches each month
- 87% of people who search for a certain type of business are searching for local results and call or visit the business within 24 hours
- Implementing local SEO into your marketing plan is 15 to 20 times more cost effective tha compared with traditional SEO in terms of return on investment (ROI).
- Previously, local businesses relied primarily on foot traffic and traditional forms of advertising to compete at the local level. However, more and more people are using search engines to find the local businesses around them.
- The creation of Google+Local, local SEO has become necessary to put a business on the map (figuratively and on map applications users refer to on their mobile devices).
Different Types of SEO
Even if you already have SEO as a priority for your business, the new ranking factors that define local SEO differ from traditional SEO especially when it comes down to building links. Traditional SEO is having your business (brick and mortar or web based) show up organically in search results. The search could be from a mobile device or from a desktop computer. Traditional SEO has a variety of factors that are looked at, with back links being the most important.
Local SEO is quite different. Local SEO is for bricks and mortar businesses only and uses the business location to show up in relevant search results. Examples would be: best hamburger near me, best Realtor website, printing company, personal injury attorney and so on. You are anticipating seeing local businesses around you. In many instances, the top 3 of these searches pull up in a map — which is called the 3 Pack or Map Pack.
Traditional SEO and Local SEO have very different cost structures – because there are different ranking factors. This article outlines the most important aspects of local SEO services that will optimize your business and most assuredly will increase foot traffic as well as online traffic to your establishment.
SEO local services can even help your bottom line if you don’t have a website by using your Google My Business page along with posting your listing in various directories on the Internet, such as Yelp , Brownbook , Yellowpages – and even the smaller, localized citation sites such as eBusinessPages. These local “links” act as a hub for potential customers to find your business.
The NAP Factor
There are multiple factors that lend themselves to ranking your business in local searches however, the most important part of providing local SEO services comes down to three pieces of information known as NAP which stands for name, address, and phone number.
While providing this basic information may seem like a no-brainer, a recent Constant Contact survey revealed that more than 50 percent of small businesses surveyed knew that there were inaccuracies in their NAP listings, however, 70 percent of the same businesses said they simply did not have enough time to spend on updating their listings across all directories.
Example of Properly Set Up GMB NAP
That is an amazing percentage, especially considering the fact that according to Moz, the number one negative ranking factor on Google is a false business address, and the third negative ranking factor is inaccuracy across directories in NAP information.
Updating your company’s NAP information has become a critical piece to a business’s online ranking and it’s all comes down to consistency and accuracy. Which can be a real challenge for humans because we all know that “to err is human.” In today’s world, a simple typo in your business name or the wrong address in a single directory can negatively affect your Google ranking.
It’s not always convenient to stop everything else and take time to update what might seem small changes, but it can be critical when it comes to your customers finding you when they need to.
Update your information:
- If your business changes names (even slightly).
- If you’ve moved to a new address.
- If you’ve changed or added a new phone number or fax line.
Accuracy is critical and keeping this information up to date on on the major internet directories can take some research, patience and time that many business owners just don’t have in today’s fast-paced world of commerce.
Which brings the question: How does a local business owner make sure the NAP information for their business is accurate and consistent across all of these internet directories?
While you can spend your time searching the internet to check each listing, making sure your information is accurate and consistent, many small business owners simply don’t have the time to take on the task. If that is the case then it may be time to find a reliable and professional SEO company. They will do the work for you and scour the internet to find and check each directory your business is listed on to make sure that your information is accurate and consistent.
Information Beyond NAP
Name, address, and phone numbers are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to filling out local directories for your business. Potential customers want to see more information and the more information about your business that can be found in local directories is the more credibility it lends to your company in the eyes of local search engines. Beyond NAP you include as much information as you can including:
- Hours of operation
- Forms of payment
- General Products and Services
- Customer Reviews and testimonials
- Link to Website and Social Media
- Local Maps and Directions
As a general rule, the more information you include in local directories about your business the better. Not only do customers like to see the most possible information, every piece of information gives your business a slight advantage in your local SEO efforts when compared to other local businesses in your geographical area. Google makes this process simple with its My Business page. This shows the business owner a completion bar which indicates how complete their page’s information is.
Here are some tips to get your local SEO services information to 100%:
Compared with traditional SEO algorithms, social media becomes much more important when it pertains to local SEO services. This is because many customers may never see your business website but will find you on whatever social media platforms they might be searching with i.e., Yelp, Facebook, YouTube, etc.
Your first step in providing local SEO services is to claim your Google My Business page, then optimize all of the information on your social media pages to match the information on your My Business page as well as other local directories. This provides customers with all the information they need to find your business and optimizes your local SEO.
Facebook “Likes” and “Retweets” on Twitter will count as a local search ranking factor. This basically means that you will rank higher on local search results the more people you have interacting with your business on social media.
Encourage Customers to Review
A huge local ranking factor is that of getting reviews from your customers and there are ways to incentiveize your customers to leave those all-important Facebook, Google+, Urbanspoon, Yelp, etc. reviews.
It is no secret that Google favors businesses that are highly reviewed over ones that don’t have enough reviews or even worse have negative reviews. Good reviews from your customers can be the difference between showing up somewhere in the murky middle of local search results and reaching the highly sought after top spot.
If your establishment is needing reviews, there are a variety of ways to encourage customers to leave a review after visiting. Something as simple as putting up a sign asking customers to leave a review could work. Incentives, such as a discount, coupon, or even a shout-out on social media could be enough to generate some reviewers. Assuming you have a great product or service these positive reviews can immediately bolster your local SEO efforts.
Google’s New Hyperlocal Algorithm
A newest development in the local SEO is Google’s hyperlocal “neighborhood algorithm.” While sometimes it may be hard to group businesses into neighborhoods because of unclear boundaries, Google is trying to make local searches more accurate for the people trying to find businesses in their area.
It’s never too early for businesses to jump on this bandwagon and include neighborhood data in their listings. By including specific neighborhood terminology, a business can be ahead of the curve when Google integrates neighborhood data into local SEO and optimizes their existing local SEO efforts at the same time.
Some ways to take advantage of this new hyper-local search are:
- Include neighborhood information in your Google My Business page
- Add your neighborhood to your website and social media page text
- Add your neighborhood to title tags on your website.
- Make sure Google Maps has your neighborhood mapped correctly.
While hyperlocal SEO is still being embraced and understood by businesses, it’s important to continue to stay ahead of competing local businesses as it becomes more and more significant for consumers.
The information here was borrowed heavily from the article on DEAN Knows Local SEO For Real Estate Agents