The best way to start talking about Local SEO is to try to take the complication out of it from the start.
If you breakdown SEO you’d end up with a Venn diagram. Organic SEO on one side and Local SEO on the other. They share some pieces in the middle, but they are slightly different things.
If you jump into Google and search for “Christmas Ornament Storage” you’re going to get two types of results. This search “could” be local, as in the searcher is looking for somewhere local to store their Christmas decorations. It also could mean that they are looking for ideas on how to store their decorations. The search results will almost always appear in following order:
- Paid Ads
- A map of local retailers (that’s the local part)
- Organic results
A local-specific search like “car body repair” will assume you’re looking for a local business. So Google will figure out your location (let’s be honest…it already knows) and then deliver you a local shop (or list of shops) to handle your business. This is the type of search that we’re going to focus on right now, because for most small businesses, this is the bloodline of their online leads or awareness.
There are 3 big things to pay attention to when it comes to Local specific SEO.
Google My Business and Citations
Hopefully you are all familiar with Google My Business (GMB). The thing to understand about GMB is that it’s really what we all call a citation. A citation is like a local listing that tells users your business name, address and phone number. They are focused on local businesses for the most part. A Facebook Page is a citation, Better Business Bureau (paid citation), Bing Local, and about 1,000 more.
It’s important to understand that Google will rate you based on how accurate all of the citations you own are. Just because you didn’t set them up doesn’t mean they don’t exist. A customer can tell Cortera or any of the online directories about your business. It’s important to know where your citations are and how you can clean them up.
You can use a service like Yext or Bright Local and others to search the internet for your business to see where you show up online. It’s important to clean these up and have between 30-50 citations online for your business. The stronger this profile is, the more likely you are to rank locally against your competition.
- Make sure you have a Google My Business Setup. If it’s not setup then definitely claim your listing.
- Search Google for your business name and document all of the places your business appears.
- If you can afford it – run a plan with Yext or Bright Local so that you can manage your citations with an API (much faster).
- If this all seems insane, HIRE US to get this done for you quickly and painlessly
Review Collection and Management
It goes without saying really that users look at reviews. So having a ton of 5 star reviews on Google can be a very powerful tool not just for your customers, but it’s also a ranking factor. In fact, it’s not just Google reviews that Google looks at. Ratings across the internet (Facebook, Yelp, BBB, etc) are all an important ranking factor.
You should not only be collecting reviews from your happy customers, you need to make sure that they are properly displaying on your website. People will definitely check on those before making a buying decision. Think about how you shop. If you’re looking for a taco bar in Seattle, are you going to the one with 2 star ratings, or the one with 4 or 5 stars? I don’t like to be food poisoned so I know where I’m eating 🙂
- Start asking your customers for reviews when they are happy with your service.
- Get someone to manage your reputation for your business. It’ll help you grow quickly.
- Signup for a service like Gather Up, Bright Local, or another to collect reviews in your shop or after a customer makes a purpose.
- When someone reviews your business make sure you respond to their review. It’s considered interactive behavior, and again, it helps improve your ranking.
There are a lot of technical things you can do on your website to help out with local SEO. These can differ greatly depending on your website situation. If your website is AWESOME these should be very easy to implement. If your friends brother-law’s college student built your site on Wix, you might need to fix that before this is going to help you 😉
- If you’re a local business – it’s a good idea to put your location in your meta title tag. If you don’t know what that is or how to update it, get a professional to do this part for you. For example, a good title tag for Joe’s Muffler shop might be “Muffler Repair Shop | Joe’s Muffler in Columbia, TN.
- Make sure you’re developer uses schema markup on your website especially on your small business location. Your business address should be wrapped in schema. It should match everything you put into Google My Business. For example, if your phone number on GMB is 123.456.7890 make sure it matches everywhere it appears.
- We’ve talked about this many times in past articles, but make sure your website is secure and fast loading.
It really takes a combination of these 3 things above (and some others as well) to make sure your business is found locally. It seems overwhelming and we understand. That’s why we’re here to make this EASY FOR YOUR BUSINESS AND YOU! If you’re struggling with your SEO reach out to our team so that we can help you! Getting found online and getting leads via search doesn’t have to be complicated. It does take time and expertise.