What is local search engine optimization (SEO) and why is it so important to small businesses?
While SEO optimizes your website so it will rank higher in search results, local SEO ensures your business shows up when people search for companies like yours, specifically in your local area. Local SEO is an important marketing tool for any small business targeting a local customer base.
Basically, to increase customer visits to your location, you need to be doing local SEO.
Local SEO is becoming more important because more people now search for businesses, products and services on mobile devices. When a prospect searches via smartphone, Google takes the phone’s location into consideration when displaying search results. That gives businesses using local SEO an edge.
Local SEO can offer many benefits, including:
- Putting your small business on equal footing with your biggest competitors.
- Reaching the specific target audience you want—nearby prospects.
- Grabbing prospects at the exact moment they’re looking for what you’re selling.
- It’s free!
Here's how to implement local SEO for your business.
Step 1. Claim your business listing on local search directories.
Begin with Google My Business; then move on to other directories such as Bing Places for Business, Citysearch, MerchantCircle, Yelp and Superpages. Also add any region-specific or industry-specific directories you can think of, such as Angie’s List. You may find a directory has already created a barebones listing for your business; go ahead and claim it (it’s free).
Step 2. Claim and optimize your directory listings.
Start with the basic information prospects will use when deciding whether to visit your business—address, phone number, hours of operation and website URL. If you have more than one business location, you will need a separate directory listing for each; this helps improve your search engine rankings.
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It’s critical for your business name, address and phone number (NAP) information to be completely consistent across the various directories. In other words, if your business is on 42nd Avenue, don’t spell it Av. in one listing, Avenue in another and Ave. in a third. Inconsistent entries confuse search engines and lower your ranking.
Once you’ve got the basics covered, go back to the listings and add details to convince customers to patronize your business. This might include photos of your location or products, menus, current promotions or seasonal hours.
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Finally, make sure to categorize your listing under the proper type/s of business. (Most search directories allow this.) Proper categorization helps to deliver more accurate search results to users.
Step 3. Optimize your website for local search.
For even better results, you’ll want to implement local SEO on your website, too. Start by including your business address in the footer of the home page, on the Contact Us page and anywhere else it’s appropriate. Then add location-specific keywords (such as your neighborhood, city, county or state) in your website’s meta tags, title tags, descriptions and content.
Step 4. Keep your information up-to-date.
To get the most from local SEO, you need to maintain current listings on local search directories. Once a month, review your listings and make sure all the information is still accurate. Update as needed—for example, add recent photos or new specials. (Your webhosting company may be able to handle this for you as an added service, so you don’t have to visit hundreds of local search directories and update them by hand.)
Refreshing your content gets search engines’ attention and improves your standing in search results.
About Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.
Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.
Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.
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