Search Engine Optimization July 4th, 2013
Local SEO success is tied to having a website that is optimized for local search. There are a few key changes you can make to the layout, coding and content of your site to attract more local customers.
Search engines crawl the web continuously. If they can’t find your local address and phone number on your site this will damage your local ranking. 1-800 and toll-free numbers will not alert the search engines to your location. Make sure not to miss out on local search by burying your phone number and address in an image file, rather make it readable and crawl-able text. Some directory listing sites – which may not necessarily be places your customers visit, but do inform the search engines – are based entirely on the data they can scrape from your page. Make sure your address and phone number above the fold on every page.
Use Google+ Local For Business To Get New Customers
What you call your website matters. One of the key factors in local SEO listings is the title of your site. If you happen to run a deli in Anaheim then you should use both those keywords when naming your site. This isn’t only instructive to the search engines, it will help inform customers who see your site appear in the listings . If they are already searching in your area, for the services and products that you offer they are ready to make a purchase. Seeing a website address offering what they want, an in the place they live, will make it much more likely that they click through to your site.
Make sure to optimize all aspects of your website for local listings. Include details such as your city and state in all of your Title tags and Meta descriptions. When you create content for your site, through your blog and through hosting snippets of your social media activity, be sure to make the stories and the keywords local. For the technically minded you should also look to include a correctly formatted schema local markup and key markup language file on your site.
If you run a business that operates from multiple locations then you need to create landing pages, within your site, with contact details for each location. Do not list all your premises in one page. Make it easy for people who are searching for local businesses to identify that you are in their area. Each landing page should include the full street address of your property, local telephone numbers, and if possible a map directing them where to find you.
You need to claim your +Local Google listing, and this can be complemented by actively participating in the growing conversation on Google+. However, for many businesses, the most interesting places to be for both you and your customers is in the traditional social media destinations of Facebook and Twitter.
While it is true that many of the social media sites are not going to impact directly on your search engine ranking – with the exception of LinkedIn which is particularly strong, and YouTube because it is a part of Google – some of the biggest sites actually act as search engines themselves. It is reported that 15% of all US Facebook users are now searching for local businesses within Facebook.
The steps for optimizing your social media pages are similar to optimizing your website. Make sure that every detail is filled in for contacting you, and make your profile is made visible to the public. It is also important that you list the same details across every site. Consistency adds up; the search engines will cross reference all of your rankings and this will improve where you appear when people search for your services.
If you want to be found locally you are going to have to be seen to engage with happy local customers. The social signals that come from a large number of positive reviews are unbeatable. Once you are listed on +Local, and your site is optimized for local search you will start to appear on the first page of Google. Whether you appear first on the list or not, your reviews are going to appear alongside your site. When a customer is deciding which local business to visit, those reviews are going to play a big part in their decision.
Listing your sites on the directories is the first step. Make sure that you are listed with all the biggest local business directories such as Merchant Circle and Yellow Pages. With a lot of these sites you will find that you there is already a listing for your company; you just need to either claim it or verify it. This process is often not that difficult, and verified businesses tend to get stronger placings than unverified ones.
As for generating reviews, your first action needs to be offering excellent customer service time and time again. People like to talk about the great experiences they’ve had. You can add to the chances of getting more reviews by amplifying any positive messages that do get written about you. Use monitoring tools and your social media channels to detect and re-post positive sentiment. You can even go as far as contacting and thanking people who already wrote positive reviews. If you are confident about the way they will respond, and you don’t think you will be treading on their privacy, then thank them publicly in your social media channels.
Use your advertising literature, stickers in your windows, even your receipts to let your satisfied customers know the easiest way to place a review. You can offer incentives for your customers to interact with you on your social media channels, and gently push your current followers toward your +Local page and other review sites.
Getting seen locally isn’t just about your search ranking. These local SEO tips will help you appear higher up the search pages, but your business – and the customer service you offer – will determine the reviews you get and these will impact upon your ability to turn those clicks into paying customers.