Before jumping in on how to optimize Local SEO, it’s important to understand what it is.
Local SEO is optimizing your website or – potentially more importantly – your listings on map services in order to appear high in the search results when someone searches for your business name, or keywords related to your business.
Local SEO is most important for businesses that have a physical location and serve a physical area. Businesses like banks, plumbers, anything where you could only get the service locally. It’s less important for companies that don’t rely on a bricks-and-mortar presence to sell their product or service, say a software vendor or someone who sells products online only.
There are a number of high profile local directories and mapping services but there is one we recommend focusing on: Google My Business. The “Local 3-5 Pack” listing unit from Google My Business shows above normal organic website listings for local oriented queries and are often as deep down into the search results page as a user will go. Learning how to optimize your listings will give your business more visibility. Because of that, these next few tips are just as important as optimizing your website.
We optimize for Google My Business, and local SEO in general, by making sure the listing itself has a few of the essentials locked in. A company’s name, address, and phone number (often referred to as NAP) should be consistent everywhere this business is listed on the internet.
Across the internet, the business should have the same formatting of the phone number, same formatting of the address, etc. There are many websites out there that scrape the internet for company information, and those can be where the NAP of a business can be wrong.
There are a number of tools to help with the crazy volume of online business directories. Our preferred wrangling tool is MozLocal which takes your Google My Business info and compares it against their list of other directories and notifies you when a directory has incorrect info. Sometimes it can even correct the information automatically.
Past the NAP, you want to make sure your website is linked, your hours are listed, and that there are photos of the interior and exterior of the business. All of these details will make it more likely that Google will show your listing above your competition.
The other big factor in ranking for local results is reviews. Proactively generating reviews is a long term initiative that requires effort across the organization.
A business needs to think critically about how to generate reviews, and how to direct reviews to the right place. We recommend choosing a single review platform to direct customers to. This allows you to give clear directions and prevents dilution of reviews across multiple platforms. Google My Business will be that single location in most situations. Yelp is another platform to consider for business (like restaurants) where Yelp has a bigger presence.
The more reviews your business has, the better you’re going to rank. The number of reviews, the quality of reviews, and the recency of those reviews all matter.
And, we’ve come up with a couple insider tips to get people to the right place to leave a review:
Step 1: First, open up an incognito page on your smartphone (desktop does not allow you to do some steps of this process).
Step 2: Then, search for your company’s name. In this example, we’ll use Room 214.
Step 3: After a Google search, the maps will pull up, and you can select the location you are looking for. If your company has just one location, you can scroll right to it.
Step 4: Scroll down to the “Rate and Review” section and click the fifth star to give a rating.
Step 5: Google will ask you to sign in, but you can just select the link and copy it.
Now, when you send customers to that link, it will automatically have five stars selected and be on the right company for them to review. If you want to go a step farther, you can even create a simple URL on your site that redirects to the review URL. For example, you could redirect http://www.example.com/review directly to the review URL. That way your sales or service team can leave simple collateral behind with an easy-to-remember URL for customers that they’ve had a positive experience with.
This is one of many steps to optimize your local SEO. Remember, make sure your NAP is consistent across the internet, make sure your business has its hours listed and photos of the inside and outside, and make sure you are directing your customers to the right place for reviews.
Every step matters in optimizing your local SEO.