The advent of the smartphone, and other internet ready mobile devices, has brought about a dramatic rise in the percentage of local internet searches.
Nearly 80% of all mobile internet searches are for local goods, services and information. Now, more than ever, it is important for businesses to maximize the potential of their online listings.
Local SEO offers businesses a way to increase their online visibility within their community. By following a few easy tips, even small businesses can begin to garner the online attention they desire.
SEO and Your Website
Begin by streamlining your website. Give special attention to keywords and phrases that directly tie your type of business to the location you serve.
When potential customers search for local products and services, you want the search engine filters to be able to recognize your website as relevant to that search.
Get very familiar with semantic markup to embed structured data for your business. This includes everything from your business address, breadcrumbs, customer reviews, and so much more.
Profiles and Citations
Your social and local profiles are key to the success of your local SEO. The first step is to set up profiles on local search directories, like Google+ Local (Google Places), Bing Business, and Yahoo Local.
These profiles should be informative, offering detailed information on the products and services you provide. Be specific. Customers, and search engines, like details.
Some directory listings, like those at Google Places, are free. Other directories charge for a profile listing and you will need to weigh the cost effectiveness of each. Online directories to consider include:
Regardless of the number of citations you have, and the various platforms on which they appear, the most important thing to remember is consistency.
All of the information contained in your directory citations should be clear, concise and uniform. Avoid any variations in pertinent information.
If you are operating a traditional Italian restaurant, make sure every listing describes your business the same way. You do not want to have one listing describing your restaurant as a trattoria, and another listing it as an Italian eatery. Uniformity across all platforms is the key.
As you streamline your multiple citations, look for the following inconsistencies:
- Check for spelling errors in the name of your business. This is an easy mistake to make, and an easier mistake to remedy.
- Make sure your business description is uniform across all platforms, without variation.
- Double check the street address, and make all citations consistent. If one listing has your address with ‘Avenue’ as opposed to ‘Ave.’, then it needs to be changed to bring it in to uniformity with all of the others.
By ensuring that all of your directory mentions are uniform, you make it easier for search engines to find you. By making it easier for the search engine, you are making it easier for potential customers to find you when they perform an online search for local businesses in your industry.
Encouraging your customers to review your business on directories like Google+ Local and Yahoo Local offers two distinct advantages. First, it helps build consumer confidence in your business. Potential customers have come to trust the online reviews of their peers, and when they read a glowing review of your service they are more likely to give you their business.
Secondly, a steady flow of reviews helps to increase your visibility to search engine filters. The increase in traffic to your profile will be noticed by the search engine, and a regular flow of reviews helps the filter recognize that your business is current, and actively servicing customers in your area.
This can help to boost your page rankings over a competitor whose profile has remained inactive for long periods of time.
Update Your Listings
Regularly update your profiles with timely information on new products and services that are important to your customers. If any vital information has changed, such as telephone numbers or street addresses, be sure to update all of your citations to reflect these changes. And as always, make sure those changes are kept uniform across all of your directory listings.
These few simple tips can give your local business a leg up in the internet search sweepstakes. They can be easily implemented, and they are cost efficient for even the most modest local enterprise.
When you want to increase your business’ visibility on the internet, thinking local can make SEO work for you.