Understanding Local Search
Search engines are getting better and better in serving local type searches. For example, if you stand in downtown Houston Texas and search for a “dentist” from your smartphone, you are likely to see results for dentists located across the street from you. Search engines now deliver more and more local and personalized results and are getting better and better in anticipating the actual needs and intent of the searchers in relation to their location.
In order for you to improve your local search visibility, you can ensure that your business is listed in relevant local directories and databases from which search engines draw information. Here are a few specific things you can do:
Set Up a Google My Business Listing
Provide Google with as much information about your business as you can.
Set Up a Bing Places Listing
Provide Bing with as much information about your business.
Submit your site to local directories and listings mentioning your exact name, phone, and address!
These are the local citations of your business. Ensure that you have your business name, phone, and address on each page of your site. As a general rule, you can place them in the footer of your site so this important information appears on each page. In essence, optimizing your site for local search is the process of ensuring that search engines have as much information about your local business as possible and can verify it from multiple local resources.
Factors Which Affect Local Search
There are three important factors which influence listings on local search results:
How relevant is the search query to what your business offers? To improve your relevance your need to provide the search engines with as much information as possible about your business.
Local searches are by definition geographical. When listing your business consider how locals search for your it, maybe you need to list your business with the specific name of your neighborhood.
How well known is your business on the web? To boost your prominence try to list your business in as many links, reviews, articles, blogs, and local directories as possible.
It all comes down to putting out a lot of relevant information about your business, defining your exact location so engines know your distance to searchers, and building your brand awareness in the local community.
Optimizing Google My Business
By listing your business on Google My Business (formerly Google + Local or Google Places) you help your business appear in the local search results. Once you create your account you will be asked about your business name and address. If Google already has a listing of your business you will be able to claim it. When you create/optimize your Google My Business listing it is important that you avoid using keywords in the name of your business. Note that it is very important that you have consistency in your citations: your name, phone, and address must appear identical in all places on the web!
Once you are done with your My Business account you will be asked to create a Google + account. You will need to go through a verification process. Here you can provide more information about your exact location, hours of operation, delivery, etc. You can also add photos of your business. Provide as much information as possible, as this information may appear on search results as your business card. So showcase your business products/services in the best possible way.
It is also very important that you have accurate information about your business on the web, placed on as many quality sites as possible. Because inaccurate citations can confuse both your customers and search engines, you need to have identical listings of your name, address, and phone online. If you already have some citations you can check their status with tools like Moz Local. The tool will provide you with information about the presence and accuracy of your citations online. Once you are done improving your existing citations you can find new opportunities for listing your business with Whitespark Local Citations Finder. The tool will allow you to search and manage all your local citations in one place, as well as find amazing popular citation sources. Having a large number of citations on quality websites and directories is essential for establishing your prominence in the local community and to search engines.
How To Get More Reviews For Your Business
Positive online reviews can be a great asset to your business. Reviews are a great way to build your online reputation and boost your popularity among customers and search engines. Reviews can be found on local review sites, blogs, and search engines. In general, users can provide reviews of your business in three ways:
Web Site customers can leave reviews on your site or other relevant sites. Since you cannot control the reviews on third party sites, it is a good idea to provide customers with the opportunity to leave reviews right on your product/service pages.
You can ask customers to leave reviews after they have completed a purchase.
You can ask customers for their experience during your communication with them over offline channels, like personal contact or phone calls.
To get more reviews simply ask your customers! Additionally, you should make it easy for them to submit reviews on your own site. Collecting reviews is a great way to build references for your business, which in turn makes it easier for both people and search engines to find you online.
Optimizing Your Site For Local Search
By improving some elements on your site you can gain better exposure on local search. For a start, you need to follow the guidelines for Content Optimization and Organization and Technical SEO. As mentioned previously your contact information (Name, Address, Phone) are very important for your local SEO. Here are some specific guidelines you need to consider:
- Use local microdata from Schema.org to mark up your contact information and all elements specific to your type of business.
- Include your business information in the footer of all pages of your site. Generally, users expect to find it on the bottom right corner.
- Make it easier for visitors to get in touch with you by phone, email, contact forms, and social media widgets.
- Provide driving directions and a map.
- Optimize your site for mobile users.
Improving your local search visibility may be challenging but it can be very rewarding, as well, as it can bring a lot of customers to your doorsteps. In order to rank well in local search results, you need to understand how engines try to anticipate the need and intent of users and position your site as the most relevant and prominent result in the local community. However, as local SEO is a continuous and often complex process, never hesitate to get a consultation and make sure you are on the right track.