If you are a local business owner that has a physical location, it’s important for you to optimize your site for Local SEO. A report from Chitika found that 43% of search queries on Google seek local results, which demonstrates the value of a Local SEO strategy that targets local customers.
Often times when you talk to local business owners and mention Local SEO or SEO in general, you get a blank stare paired with a look of confusion. This is your cue to educate the local business owner on what Local SEO is and why it’s important. It’s also important to explain the complexity of Local SEO in layman’s terms so the business owners can understand what you are talking about.
With that said, I wanted to take a few minutes and outline some important features of a Local SEO strategy that would be simple for any local business owner to implement.
Get your site up to speed
Since local search volumes continue to grow exponentially, it is important for you as a local business owner to make sure that your website is properly optimized to target local searchers. Here are a few tips to implement on your site to help facilitate better rankings and increase search traffic: (1) optimize your site’s architecture to ensure that search engines can easily navigate your site and determine what it is about, (2) author good content that engages users and moves them through the sales funnel, (3) optimize your pages for 2-3 keywords paired with local geo-modifiers, (4) optimize your on-page content to incorporate local keywords as well as helping to build relevancy between the page title, description and on-page content, (5) make your content information easily accessible for users to find.
Claim Local Business Listings
Claiming your local business listings will help boost your local SEO search rankings because the number of citations, reviews, more specifically, how positive those reviews are will help boost your Local SEO rankings. You will also want to claim your Google+ Local Profile, which now is a combination of Google Places and Google +. Reviews left on your Google Local pages will help increase your Local ranking quicker than reviews left on other citation sites.
One of the resources I like to use when search for local business listings for clients is, getListed.org. getListed.org is a resourceful website that allows you to enter your business name along with your zip code to see how your business is listed on the three major search engines, as well as other second tier directories that can create good local citations.
Another great resource for building local citations by city is getListed.org’s “Best Local Citation Sources by City” webpage. If you’re not comfortable building citations by city, you can build them by business category. Both of these citation guides are very helpful in building authority citations.
It is very important to make sure the continuity of your business information is carried throughout all of your local business listings and citations. Also keep in mind that local business listings are a support tool to your primary website. That’s why continuity is important.
Social Media for Local Businesses
Recently Facebook updated the “Nearby” feature within their interface that allows Facebook users to search for establishments near their current location. This update changes how local businesses should be utilizing Facebook. Local businesses should optimize their Facebook pages for the appropriate service category or categories; include their physical address, phone number, hours of operation, and a link to their site.
Social indicators are also an important factor in Google’s Local Search algorithm. It’s important to not passively watch, but to actively engage with users on your social media profiles.
Local Business Schema and Geotag
Local business schema and geotag essentially allows you to use schema markup for your business type, business address, business contact information, business hours, and much more. Another great feature that Schema offers is giving webmasters the ability to specify your geographical location by including your longitude and latitude coordinates.
Google has favored structured and semi-structured data for years, and when reviewing a site, Google will look for structured or semi-structured data before review plain HTML.
Here is an example for Schema.org:
If you are a novice and would like to implement schema markup on your site, I have found Schema’s Local Business instructions to be very helpful with implementing this code. You can also implement schema markup through Google Webmaster Tools with their newly released markup tool.
Mobile Versions of Your Site
Earlier I mentioned that 43% of searches done on Google are local searches, but what I did not mention is that the same study found that 27% of the 43% of local searches were done by users using smartphones. With that said, it is important to not only optimize your primary site for local SEO, but it is equally important to have a mobile version of your site that is optimized for local search as well.
Not only do you want to optimize your mobile site for local search, but you will also want to make sure your site and your Google+ Local profile are listed on Google maps, and that you are listed on all popular local review and citation apps (yelp, Google+ Local, and so on).
If you are feeling up to the challenge and want to test a mobile site before having one professional designed, Google does offer a free mobile site builder that will allow you to create a mobile version your site. However, if you want a mobile site that is going to yield a return, as well as help boost your local rankings, I would partner with a firm that has experience doing so.
So there you have it. I have put together a simple list of tips that will help you make an impact in 2013 with your local SEO.