Woman searching for local businesses

Local SEO

How Local SEO Can Help Your Business

Optimizing your business for services such as Google My Business, Bing Places and Yelp is one of the most time-effective and cost-effective digital marketing opportunities for small businesses.

Local Business Listings

Local Search Results on Mobile PhoneDid you know that there are over 6.5 billion searches performed every day on the Internet? Of those searches, over 50% are performed on mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. These mobile devices are “location aware” so they know where you are physically located when making your searches. Because of this, companies such as Google and Bing are now tailoring their search results to favor local businesses automatically.

Research has found that 50% of those mobile visitors visit the brick and mortar store within one day of being searched. Of those visitors, another 18% typically lead to a sale within a day. Those are staggering numbers. While most businesses can obtain a local listing, it doesn’t happen automatically. Are you losing sales because your business isn’t being found?

How It Works

There are four main types of search results that can appear when you look something up: Paid, Organic, Local, and Social Media. Of these results, local results tend to be more focused on the search phrase in the geographic region you’re currently located in. Your website should account for all of these result types in it’s digital marketing plan, but small businesses that cater to a certain geographic area should focus on local search results since it’s generally fast and inexpensive to get started.

Getting Your Listing

The main purpose of local SEO is getting your business visible for local searches. This starts with establishing your online profile consisting of your business name, address, and phone number. Then you will try to make sure that this information is consistent everywhere it appears online. The more consistent your data is, the more it’s trusted and the better you will rank for searches.

To establish these local profiles, your business needs to meet certain criteria:

  1. You must have a business name or a DBA for your company.
  2. You must have a local phone number that matches your city or location.
  3. You must have a physical address where you can make contact with your customers. No virtual offices allowed.

Once you have met these criteria, you can claim your business (or create it if it doesn’t already exist) with services such as My Google Business and Bing Places. This claim process is used to verify that you are the actual owner or manager of the business at this address. This will prevent unauthorized individuals from making changes to your account listing. This will happen one of three ways depending on the listing service: A phone call, a postcard via USPS, or an email. Usually they will verify your ownership by providing you with a PIN code that needs entered.

Claiming your listing and verifying ownership isn’t the end of the process. Duplication and misinformation of your address across the Internet should be managed and updated so it all shows the same information. There are a few additional steps you can to try to achieve that goal:

  • Make sure your NAP (name, address, phone number) is consistent across all channels. This includes your website, social media presences, and any local directory your website might appear in.
  • Use local business schema markup in your website so crawlers can identify your physical location.
  • Use local keywords in your URLs, heading tags, and content when appropriate.
  • Update your local listings with photos and videos to highlight projects you’ve worked on, your team, and maybe your office itself.
  • Categorize your business listing properly. Search engines use this category data to determine which businesses to show for relevant searches.

Citations

When building your website, it’s important for other websites to link to you since this helps establish your website as the authority on a given topic. This same principal applies to local business listings through citations. Citations are defined as mentions of your business name on webpages other than your own. These are usually accompanied by your address, phone number or both (even if there is no link to your site). Good examples of these are online yellow pages, your local chamber of commerce, and local business associations you might be involved with. The more citations Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc. find to your site, the more trusted your address information becomes.

Obtaining citations is neither easy nor difficult, it just takes a little time and money to accomplish:

  • Data Aggregators - Four primary data aggregators of local business data for the United States: Infogroup, Neustar Localeze, Acxiom, and Factual. These aggregators license or syndicate their data to most local search engines including Google and Bing.
  • Local Search Engines such as Yelp, Foursquare, Hotfrog and others that are commonly used to search for local businesses.
  • Locally focused directories such as Best of The Web and Yahoo’s Regional Directory.
  • Industry focused directories such as a local chamber of commerce and trade organizations.

Reputation Management

As part of your local business listing, you’ll typically find that your website has reviews and ratings attached to it from happy (or unhappy) customers. These reviews and ratings can persuade (or dissuade) prospective customers who are looking for the goods and services you offer. 88% of consumers will trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family. This means that you need to encourage your customers to leave reviews of your business on their preferred search engine or portals. It also means that you need to recognize when somebody has left a negative review of your site and respond accordingly.

Take the Next Step

IDMI.Net offers several services to claim your local business listings and make sure that it is up to date and consistent across the Internet. We also provide reputation monitoring to watch for those good (and bad) reviews so they don’t go unanswered. Contact IDMI.Net today to see how we can help you get more business!