Local search has become a de facto standard for businesses that service consumers in specific locales. Your online presences is just as important (if not more important) than your offline presence.
If you are new to the scene of Local SEO and search optimization for your local or small business, here are five Google local SEO tips to help you navigate through the steps needed to ensure that your business has the presence it needs to earn the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) results you deserve.
1. Attractive and Click-Worthy Title and Meta Descriptions
This is often an overlooked opportunity by many local SEO campaigns. These HTML elements are customizable features which are used to represent your website in search results. Typically, titles range from 50 – 60 characters and descriptions can range up to 200 characters.
In years past these titles and descriptions were used to incorporate keywords and help with rankings. Current SEO best practices tell us to use these titles and descriptions as an opportunity to improve user experience and attract clicks. Your meta titles and descriptions need to be a clear depiction of your page content, be persuasive, and of course specifically unique. Including your city in the description is recommended. Targeted keywords should be as close to the beginning of the paragraph as possible but not at the expense of user readability.
Use this opportunity to set yourself apart – do you offer 24/7 service? Free shipping? 25% off for first time customers?
2. Keep a Consistent and Prominent Online Presence
Whether your business is brand new or has been around for decades and moved locations several times, it is extremely important to make sure that your business name, address and phone number is consistent and visible across the Internet, no matter where someone may find you.
This consistency instills consumer trust and builds your authority. The consistency also plays a large role in your local SEO performance. The Search Engines want to understand your company and have confidence that you are a legitimate company.
Here is a starter list for online business directories where you can establish your presence:
- Merchant Circle
- Local Chamber of Commerce
- Local Trade Affiliations
3. Claim Your Google My Business (GMB) Listing for Full Control
Over the years Google My Business and Bing Places for Business have built their database of business listings. Even if you have never claimed your business listing the Search Engines may still be showing a listing for you!
It is critical for you to claim this listing so that you have full control over proper categorization of your business, description, address, and business hours.
There is a simple verification process for your GMB listing. Google mails you a postcard containing a PIN number you need for verification purposes. This confirms to Google that you are whom you say you are and indeed own the business you are attempting to claim.
4. Manage, Respond To, and Grow Your Reviews Online
Nowadays, both personal word-of-mouth referrals along with online reviews can influence whether or not we stay at a hotel, eat at a restaurant, hire a plumber, or even order a shirt from an online retailer.
The importance of controlling, managing, and growing customer reviews is finally catching the attention of businesses. A BrightLocal survey indicates that:
- Online reviews are trusted as much as personal recommendations by 84% of those surveyed.
- If asked, 70% of consumers will leave a review.
- Positive reviews encourage 54% of consumers to visit a website.
- Local businesses are trusted more when they have positive online reviews.
- Less than 10 reviews are read before a consumer forms an opinion.
- Reviews older than 3 months are not deemed relevant by consumers.
- Over half of consumers agree that star ratings are important.
Seeking quality reviews on an ongoing basis is good business practice and keeps your brand in the forefront of consumers’ minds, helps you stand out from competitors, and also helps to minimize the one-off bad review you may get.
Don’t have the time or find it awkward to ask your customers for reviews? Consider our online Reputation Management Services that offer a fully automated software system that actually works behind the scenes to grow your reviews.
5. Structured Data Markup for Local
This markup language provides more information about your business to Google once it has been implemented in your website code. Most businesses use only the basic markup. This provides opportunities for business owners to outdistance their competitors by utilizing uncommonly used markup.
Google has a Structured Data Testing Tool you can use to determine if your markup implementation meets the required standards.
Want to learn more about how to win at Local SEO? Here are some additional articles by other SEOs in the industry as well as articles by our own team:
- 9 Tips for Successful Local Business Listings
- Local SEO Opportunities Exclusive to Local Businesses
- 16 Insanely Smart Small Business Blog Ideas
You can also call 1st on the List at 1-888-262-6687 if you have specific questions. We’d love to help you optimize your business for Local Search!