To simplify local search engine optimization (SEO), think through every couple’s favorite argument: what should we order for dinner?
Though the battle may be long, ultimately, a cuisine is picked. What’s your next move?
Likely, you hop on your phone, and search: “Italian food near me,” “Thai nearby,” or “Greek restaurant open.”
In SEO land, that’s called “searching with local intent.” When you’re quickly searching to find dinner before your spouse pitches a fit, you don’t want Google to return a restaurant three states away. You want the restaurant closest to you, preferably one with good reviews.
Google understands that searches with local intent (referencing specific geographic areas or using keywords like “near me,” “nearby,” “open,” “closest,” etc.) value information differently than a researcher seeking historical documentation.
Google’s algorithms are built to identify local intent and deliver location-based information.
Local search is an excellent way to drive foot traffic to your brick and mortar store, restaurant, or service. In fact, SEO Moz extrapolates that there are approximately seven billion unique local searches per month on Google in the United States (which includes about 50%+ of mobile queries). This is a huge volume of search traffic that you could direct towards your business.
Today, we’ll talk through simple ways to optimize your business for local search.
1. Complete contact information on your website
Sounds like no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how frequently websites bury their contact information.
We recommend a single “Contact Us” page on your site that includes your NAP (name, address, phone number), and alternative ways to get in touch, like your email address and links to social media accounts.
Think carefully through your NAP and make sure it won’t change. You’ll need to copy this information verbatim to third party business pages (more on this below), and it must stay consistent.
Your Contact Us page is a great place to embed a Google Map, or link to directions via Google Maps. Also, make sure you include the hours you’re open!
We also recommend adding your contact information to the footer of your website. Website visitors typically scroll or scan quickly through a site seeking information. You want to make it as simple as possible for them to find it, visit you, or reach out with inquiries.
2. Create a page for each location on your website
If your business has more than one physical location, create separate single pages on your site to promote that business. Make sure it includes all your contact information and anything that distinguishes one location from another.
By making each location a different page, it helps Google understand your business, and how all the parts fit together.
3. Update your website with geographically-based keywords
Your website should be optimized for location, in addition to keywords around your products and services.
Add geographically-based keywords to appropriate pages and products on your site, following organic search best practices.
Include your location to page titles (Lexus Dealership | Avalon, NJ | Leo’s Lexus, for example). When appropriate, add location information in header tags and in the body content.
4. Create and maintain business listings
Search engines rank and filter listings based on a ton of ranking factors. Of course, they won’t give us the exact recipe for success, but it’s clear that one strong factor is other websites, applications, social networks, and directories that list your business information and link to your website.
Just like inbound links from other websites increase organic results in SERPs, these factors suggest to Google that your business is reputable and established.
Start with your Google My Business listing. Fill it out completely, adding your NAP exactly as it’s listed on your website (consistency is key), your website URL, your hours of operation, and select from Google’s categories to identify the type of business.
Try not to leave any field blank. When choosing one listing or another, Google prioritizes completed profiles over ones missing information.
If you already have a Google listing, check all the information to make sure it’s still accurate and make any necessary corrections.
Next, complete and update your business profiles on third party sites like:
- Internet Yellow Pages
- Bing Places
- Apple Maps
- Yahoo Small Business
- Facebook business page
- LinkedIn Business page
- Location- or industry-specific pages
5. Request reviews
Google knows reviews are important to searchers and will display a business higher in search rankings if it has more positive reviews than an alternative listing. Results show a business’s average star rating and links to these reviews.
Encourage customers to leave you reviews. You can request reviews through email, place a promotion on your social networks, or display a sign in your business window or at checkout.
Equally important, if you get any negative reviews, respond as quickly as possible and try to correct the issue. A prompt, apologetic, and helpful response goes a long way to influence a searcher to overlook a negative review.
Thanks to Mobilegeddon, Google penalizes websites in mobile search results that aren’t user-friendly.
Take Advantage of Local Search
If your business has a physical location or your services target your surrounding community, optimizing for local search is a must!
As Google’s algorithms get smarter, more and more consumers rely on local search intent and reviews to decide where to spend their money.
Get started with our six local search optimization steps. If you need more hands-on help, contact Whereoware’s search team.