What is local SEO?
Why do I care about local SEO?
How does it work?
How can I get started?
If you’ve asked yourself these questions, you have come to the right place.
Local SEO is an effective way to help your business market your products and services to local customers at the exact time they are looking for your services. For example, if I’m out looking for a place where I can play with kitties and drink my coffee and I search “cat cafe,” the results that show are going to be cat cafes in my area. That is the power of local SEO, and illustrates why you should care about it. Even if you have the best cat cafe in the country, without a local SEO strategy you wouldn’t show up on my search results, and I might end up at someone else’s kitty establishment..
So you understand local SEO, you’re starting to get it, but now you’re wondering, how does it work? How does Google know what places to show? There are a number of online directories out there, and Google crawls all of them. So where should your local SEO strategy start?
Here are some basics to get you started with your local SEO strategy:
Claim your spots! Start with Google Business. Since it’s a Google product and linked to Google, when you claim and verify your location, it puts you on Google’s radar. I can’t stress enough how important it is to create a Google Business page completing as much information as possible. Just look at my results when I searched ‘cat cafe.’ The only reason I found a cat cafe in Ferndale is because of their Google Business Page:
All of the other results had a better SEO ranking than my Ferndale location, but they weren’t anywhere near me (most of them weren’t even in Michigan!)
After creating your Google Business page, I recommend creating profile with Yelp and some of your other favorite online directories (my personal favorite is Manta).
Get your website in order. Your location information must be complete, accurate and consistent throughout your website. (Many websites list their address and phone number in the website footer, so it appears throughout the site.) If you have more than one location, include them all on your website, and make sure they match your Google listing(s).
Learn how you too can create email campaigns that convert!
Virtual ≠ Local. A virtual business address is not going to work. Google can detect P.O. boxes and shared mailbox locations. If you don’t have a physical location where customers walk in off the street during business hours, then you should set up your Google profile as a service area business. (This is a good option if you work out of your home, and allows you to establish your Google profile accurately without publicizing your home address.) While we’re on this subject, even if you have a toll-free number, list a local telephone number too, if at all possible.
Quality UX is a must! Your site needs to be mobile-friendly, easy to navigate, and load quickly. Enough said.
Don’t get stuffy. “Keyword stuffing” your location throughout your website is a bad idea. Listing your address in your website footer is sufficient for local SEO purposes. Don’t go adding the location (“stuffing”) into additional copy elsewhere in the site, thinking it will help search results. All it does is make Google crabby.
So now you might be thinking, “Well Jen, this is all very nice, but I have a large business with multiple locations, so how can I benefit from local SEO?”
I’ll tell you!
A local SEO strategy can increase your exposure and improve your reputation at local levels, especially when you have customer reviews in place. Here are some local SEO tips for larger businesses:
- If you have numerous locations, enlist a representative at each location or franchise to manage the local SEO for that location. This person should be manually verifying the Google listing information for their location, and removing any duplicates, if they exist.
- If each location has its own page on your website, again, that local representative can keep that page’s information accurate and current.
- Utilize automation tools for local SEO. Moz Local is a good one to check out.
Do you have local SEO in place for your business? Have any other tips that you don’t see here? Tell us about them!
*Please note, these strategies work well with other search engines as well. I happen to be very “pro-Google,” so almost everything I do revolves around Google.