First of all, what is local SEO? If you have a business website, it’s likely you’ve heard about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and maybe even local SEO, but did you know that they are pretty different? SEO is about getting your site to show up in organic listings. These are the ads that are below paid ads, map and local listings. Local SEO is about showing up in the local snack pack and maps. We’ll go into local SEO ranking factors and what you need to do to get your listing shown.
Optimize your Google My Business Listing
Google My Business (GMB) is the more prominent of the local SEO ranking factors and is going to be your best chance for showing up in the local pack and Google Maps. There are options that change depending on your business type, but the rule of thumb is, if you can edit it, then do it and max it out. For example, on categories, select your primary and then use as many other categories as you can that fit your business. That’s because Google will show the user what category it thinks best matches their search.
If you set up your Google My Business listing and haven’t touched it in a while, you could be missing out! Updates happen periodically, affecting what you can show to users. Another thing that a lot of people ignore is posting regularly. Google loves new content! The more involved you are, the more relevant Google will think your listing is. Posting new pictures and posts will help you rise above the competition. And remember to respond to your reviews.
Another important step in optimizing your Google My Business is to keep all contact information up-to-date. NAP, or Name Address Phone, is a key factor in ranking. Google wants all information consistent across the board, so make sure your hours match what’s on your website or you’ll be docked.
Don’t forget about Bing Places! It may not have the same clout as Google, but there’s still a lot of traffic on that search engine. Bing will even let you import your GMB listing over to Places, saving you time and effort.
Domain Authority and Links
How popular and relevant is your website? Search engines use a variety of factors to determine if your website is worth showing. This is mostly related to “regular” SEO. Do other websites link to your page? Does your website show E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness)? Do people find what they are looking for on your site? The better your website is at being a knowledge base, the better your website will rank. SEO is a whole other beast that can’t be discussed here, but there are plenty of resources out there and professionals that can work on that for you.
We talked about NAP consistency in Google My Business and how it should match your website. It’s true of all internet references to your business. Being up-to-date and consistent is important to search engines to make sure customers are not left confused on how to contact you. Search engines also likes to see that you are everywhere. Make sure your business is listed in high-authority directories such as Facebook, Yelp and Yellowpages, as well as any directory you can get listed on as volume does matter to search engines.
Have Good Reviews
The number of reviews is just as important as having a high average rating. Request reviews from your customers whenever possible. Make it easy for them to leave a review with a short link set up in Google My Business. Search engines also use reviews from high authority sites such as Facebook and Yelp, so make sure you also respond to your current and prospective clients on these other platforms.
A lot of what makes your site show in maps and the local pack is just knowing what signals search engines are looking for. You don’t need to be an SEO professional to do the basics. Sometimes the basics aren’t enough to get to you to that top position, but even just a little effort can out position some of your competition. If you’re interested in taking it on yourself, Moz.com is a great resource, especially for beginners. Then again, if you just don’t have the time or find that the basics aren’t enough, contact us. We’d be happy to help you out.