The Importance of Local SEO for Small Businesses
When it comes to owning a “local” business, it may seem as though you can’t benefit from the internet as much as a large corporation. You might be surprised to know your online activity and availability can greatly improve how your business functions.
But how does it all work? Admittedly, not everyone who starts up a little mom and pop’s shop is going to know internet lingo and all the ways to manipulate search engine operations. The following is a small guide to give you a better understanding of local SEO and the importance it can have towards your business.
WHAT DO YOUR SEARCH RESULTS SAY?
If you’ve already created a website for your business then it’s already available in SEO. There are three separate locations in which you’ll find your online profile:
Paid Search - At the top of a Google search, you’ll find links that appear as either “sponsored” or “ads”. These links are for the sake of commercializing on a local business.
Local Pack - Below the “Paid Search” you’ll find a map with three local listings and more to follow. This is Google’s way of identifying a solution to the searcher’s request. It should be noted these links WILL NOT directly bring the searcher to your site. Rather, they will bring them to a Google profile of your business.
Organic Results - When it comes to Google’s SEO, the “Organic Results” is where you ultimately want to appear. These are the 8 to 10 blue links which appear in every Google search. They’re optimized to best fit what the searcher is looking for and the relevancy of the website.
So, how do you get your website into either a “Local Pack” or the “Organic Results”?
To understand this, it’s vital to understand why Google hasn’t already placed you at the top of their search engine. The truth of the matter is Google doesn’t feel your website has enough local intent for that search.
If your curious about tracking your visibility through Google’s SEO, you can try paid services like WhiteSpark and Rank Ranger. However, though these services are good for measuring progress, they will not tell you how to better improve your search engine operations.
WHAT IS GOOGLE LOOKING FOR?
There are a variety of different factors that determine what Google is looking for in terms of their search engine operations. These include:
Google My Business
In order to properly improve your website’s SEO, you’re going to have to capitalize on each of these factors. The following information prioritizes the most important of the above factors.
HOW TO BOOST YOUR LOCAL SEO
To begin, you’re going to want to look into your Google My Business (GMB). If you haven’t already, it’s important you either create or claim your business on GMB. In order to gain reputability on Google, you’ll want to upload a variety of photos and even videos to your business profile.
From here, you’re going to need to now network your website to other websites. The purpose of this is to set inbound links directed towards your website on these other websites. In order to make better use of Google’s SEO, you may want to seek this opportunity out through other local business (this helps local search results).
Putting yourself in a position to get these links can be tough. For the most part, people guest blog on local blogging websites or local organizations/news websites. Usually, they seek out other businesses similar to their own and reach out to the owner of said business. From there, you’ll have to pitch a blog out and, if accepted, insert some links to your website within it.
With people now coming to your website, it’s vital you make sure there are some reviews already set up for your local business. Though you can’t control whether these reviews are positive or negative, they’re something you’re going to want to keep up with - asking customers to do so when you make a sale.
DO NOT try to write good reviews yourself. Google has a way of finding this out.
Lastly, you’re going to want citations of your business mentioned in multiple places throughout the web (mainly, through local directories). If your NAP information (name, address, phone number) is consistent throughout these directories, Google will pick this up.
THERE’S ALWAYS MORE YOU CAN DO
When it comes to developing better local SEO, some people feel a bit of surprise at how much work it takes just to get a top Google result. Admittedly, it is a lot of work and more often than not, business owners hire someone else to do this kind of work.
However, as is with many startups, the business owner takes local SEO under their own belt and dives in deep. The above information is only a basic outline of how deep Google’s algorithm can get. If you’re looking for more information, feel free to check out a more in-depth guide at MOZ.