Local SEO can help your small business become more competitive online right from the beginning. By empowering yourself as a business owner with the understanding of Local SEO and the best first steps to take, you can give your business every opportunity online to succeed.
As the scissors inch closer and closer, the anticipation starts to sink in. The sharp blades glimmer in the sun.
Excitement. Anxiety. Hope. Fear.
All emotions collide together, swirling around and around until release is found in the sweet, sweet cutting noise that is the red ribbon. It’s the grand opening. The big schabang. Your business is open and customers are pouring in by the droves…but, oh wait, where’s the droves?
While this may not be an uncommon story, it’s one that you don’t have to experience. When starting a small business, one of the most overlooked items is local optimization. Local SEO relates to how your business is verified and found online to your customers.
I know what you’re thinking… “My office is brand new and has an new modern industrial feel to it on the perfect trafficked corner.” While that may be true, how does your business look online to customers? How is your business displayed online? How is your business findable online?
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO (or search engine optimization) is the process of increasing your business visibility for the city and/or community you serve. Your Local SEO presence can either be a brick and mortar location like a restaurant or you can operate as a service location like a plumber. Follow the steps below to ensure that your business has the opportunity online to compete.
How do I set up my Local SEO presence?
The first step in establishing a local presence on the internet is to verify all major properties online. Please keep in mind that it is extremely important for your business location and information is all kept consistent.
There are four major properties that we recommend setting your business up on to start. The links are included so that you can start the verification process for your Local SEO presence.
- Google my Business: https://www.google.com/business/
- Bing: https://www.bingplaces.com/
- Facebook for Business: https://business.facebook.com
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/710/creating-a-linkedin-company-page?lang=en
- Yelp: https://biz.yelp.com/
What are the next Local SEO steps for success?
Once you have verified your business and set up the profiles on these 5 sources, the next step is to start actively posting and gathering reviews to these sources from existing customers. This will help the customers that do find your location get to know the experience you provide to your customers. Posting and finding new reviewers consistently is a marathon, but committing yourself to at least 6 months of this will allow your local presence to grow online over time.
Google’s Local Search Ranking Factors
Without getting too technical, Google lists it’s high level ranking factors as such:
Relevance: In simple terms, relevance refers to how well a local business listing matches what someone is searching for. Be sure to add in as much information about your business as possible and make sure it’s consistent across all platforms. This will help Google better understand your business and determine which search terms or keywords match your business.
Distance: Refers to how close your business is to the user. If a user doesn’t specify a location in their search, Google will calculate distance based on what’s known about their location.
Prominence: If your business is more popular and well known than another, it factors into the local search ranking. Also if a business is more popular in the offline world, Google will feature it higher in the local search results. For instance, if someone searches for coffee shops near me and there is a local Starbucks in the area, it will usually be featured above the local mom and pop shop.
Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories). Google’s reviews and review scores are also factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business’s local ranking (As mentioned earlier). Your position in search results is also important.
More Keys to Successful Local SEO on Google
Add photos – Be sure to include photos from inside the business and outside the business. Don’t use “posed” pictures. Make them appear natural and in the moment.
Verify your locations – This is an important step for your business to appear on Google Maps.
Make sure your business hours are updated consistently – Include hours for special events and holidays.
Manage and respond to your reviews – It’s not enough to just have your customers leave reviews, you also must be sure to respond to them and try to resolve any issues that are brought up. It’s not in Google’s best interest to send their customers to places with bad customer service.
How do I take my Local SEO presence to the next level?
After you have verified on your major sources and started posting and finding reviewers consistently and are ready to become more competitive with your Local SEO presence, give us a shout! While these are just the basics to local seo, there is a host of technical steps to take to ensure search engine dominance over your local competitors.
You think Jimmy’s Gyro Hut is making sure their IYP/aggregator NAP consistency is dialed in? Odds are, they’re not. With Striventa on board, we can give you that competitive advantage.
Our team can also help you automate your processes and find the best and submit your location to the best directories you need to have your business on. We will breakdown all of the sources we’ve submitted your business to and you will own all rights to your directories once we are finished. Additionally we have an automated process to help your business get more 5 star reviews from your customers on a consistent basis.
While SEO is considered to be a marathon, by achieving these little wins and gains with your local business presence, you can help jump start your online presence for your business successfully.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to myself or our team so we can help you set your business up for success.