Local SEO has become the process of improving visibility and clickthrough rates of a web page in search results. Getting a website on the first page in Google or Bing can make the difference between an OK year and a GREAT year. If you are a local business, you know that the competition for certain keywords can be difficult to rank on the first page, especially the first position in Google Places.
There are a few things you can do to improve your chances of ranking higher in local search results. Here are four essential ingredients to developing a quality local SEO strategy.
I. Claim Your Search Engine Page
Local search pages in Google, Yahoo!, and Bing serve as ground zero for local search. If you don't already have a website, this should be your initial introduction to the web. It is very simple to claim, and it will get your business listed in search engines almost immediately. It contains some basic analytics that can help you grow your business. You can add photos, videos, contact information and promotions as well as aggregate client reviews.
These search pages are the single most important thing you can do for local search.
If you have not gone to Google Places, Yahoo! Local, or Bing Local and claimed your business, do it now! Stop reading and go claim your business and come back . . . we'll wait. . . .
II. Local Directories
The next step in your local strategy is to get your business connected to local directories. This is not a recommendation to join traditional directories. You need to establish a presence on sites like Yahoo Local and Citysearch. Both of these sites appear to have agreements with Google in exchange of data. By getting listed in Yahoo Local, your presence will be shared with Google, which is a good thing.
Other local directories that are good to use are Yelp, Urbanspoon, TripAdvisor, Judy's Book, and Insider Pages. These directories have quality page rank value, high reputation and are crawled by search engines on a regular basis. Find the ones that really connect with your audience and make sure you are listed.
III. Your Address Matters
If you are going to try to rank for local search, make sure your address is listed on every page of your website (a good place to accomplish this is to incorporate the address in the footer area of your site). Search engines have become smart enough to identify an address and display that information relative to a local search. Oftentimes, this is an over looked piece of information.
IV. Reviews Have Traction
Social triggers are valuable for online business. Having reviews helps to establish trust, and search engines seem to be using the reviews as social triggers for ranking purposes. Sites with positive reviews tend to have better CTR (clickthrough rates). We generally recommend soliciting reviews from your customers. Ask them to go to one of the pages you've created and leave a comment or testimonial. You should be very transparent with reviews, as Google has quality raters and machine learning algorithms that can detect fake reviews and delete them from you local business listings.
Local search strategy is really about optimizing not only for keywords and following SEO best practices but for your local customers. Optimize for global, but think local and you can develop a quality strategy for your business.
This article was written by Alan Smith, a WordPress Web Designer/Developer and SEO Specialist. Alan is a devoted husband and father, a Christ-follower, a Starbucks junkie, and a Georgia Bulldawg Fan (Go SEC!)