Search engine optimization is all about tapping into the world wide web of potential customers, right? You target the right keywords and you’ll be found online no matter where your business is located or your customer is searching from. If you have a global customer base, this is all well and good, but what if your market is local?
Once Google discerns local intent, some very non-traditional SEO ranking factors come into play. Local intent is when a user (i.e. potential customer) is looking for local goods or services. When you search for “wisdom teeth;” you’ll get Web MD, Wikipedia and other results on the subject, yet none of them are likely to be local businesses. But search for “dentist” and you’ll see all sorts of local results, including some keyed to an area map.
This is the power of local search. It can make a big difference to anyone that has a service area business or a physical location, whether it’s a hair salon, a landscaper or a doctor’s office.
There are four major things involved in optimizing for local SEO:
1. Your Google Business Page – Claiming your business page gives Google more confidence in trusting the information they have about your business. It also means that you get a nice little display in mobile search results with a click-to-call button without having a mobile or responsive website. (See screenshot at right.)
2. Citations – These are listings of your business on sites like Yelp, Facebook, etc. You want these listings to be consistent in their use of your business name, address and phone number (also called NAP in the search world). If Google sees conflicting information, they may not trust their ability to give accurate results, and your rankings will suffer.
3. Reviews – Those star ratings that show up beside your listings in Google can cause searchers to make a quick decision about whether or not they want to do business with you. There are ways to influence reviews, but you have to play by the rules or you may see something like this!
4. Company Website – In addition to regular SEO, you can also optimize your website for local SEO. Include your business name, service, city and state in your title tags, for example. Have your name, address and phone number in text on every page as well to gain local search benefits. It’s also a good idea to have a strong location page with an embedded Google Map and lots of text about the area where you’re located.
I’ll be back in a few weeks with more tips on each of these four components of local SEO. In the meantime, explore this resource from Moz on local search optimization.