As explained in my last post which covered the definition of SEO, we learned that authority plus relevance equals rank. Search engines typically measure authority by looking at how many actual pages exist on your website, and by analyzing how many other websites link to yours. The more relevant pages you have, and the more relevant and credible links you have linking back to your website, the better your SEO mojo. However, when it comes to local businesses, it would be nearly impossible for your business to rank against big directories, like Yelp and YP, if the same approach were taken.
That’s why for local businesses, the search engines use a different approach. Local SEO is the term used to describe the specific tactics involved in helping local businesses get found and ranked on the search engines. There are 3 factors to consider when thinking about Local SEO.
On-Page SEO refers to the content and structure of your businesses website. It’s important that your website prominently displays your NAP (name, address, and phone number) correctly across all pages. The products and services that you offer should be listed. If you offer a wide array of services, create a services page that lists and explains all of the services you offer. If you serve a large community that extends far beyond your physical address, create a page that speaks to the products and services you offer in the various communities you serve. Also, don’t forget a good call to action, coupon, or other offer. In short, make it easy for your website visitors to understand who you are, what you do, why they should use you, and make it super easy for them to know where to call or visit you.
When it comes to website structure, there are so many website building tools and services that ensure your website is structured in a way that makes it easy for the search engines to find and index the information on your site. Website services like those offered through our very own PowerSites® will allow you to have a perfectly structured website with little effort and at an affordable price.
Citations are your businesses NAP (name, address, and phone) listed across the web. If your NAP is listed on ten different web pages, then you have ten different citations. Since most local business websites don’t have tons of pages nor do they have tons of back links from other websites, the search engines look to citations as a way to measure authority and relevance instead. When it comes to citations, it’s important that your NAP is consistent across all websites and pages. If you have a phone number listed on your Yelp business listing page that differs from your listing on Yahoo! Local, that is not good.
The more consistent and error free your NAP, the more professional and authoritative you look in the eyes of the search engines. Additionally, the way your citations appear across the internet should match the NAP used on your local business’s website. And, if you are trying to get in Google’s good graces, you should make sure you have a Google+ page for your business, again with the same info.
There is a reason why reviews are all the craze. Not only is it proven that consumers are more likely to patronize a business or use their products or services if they have reviews, but the search engines actually favor businesses that have reviews posted on sites like Google+, Yelp, and Facebook. Asking your customers to give you reviews on these sites will not only help your local SEO, but it shows your customers that you care about their feedback. Don’t be afraid to incentivize your customers either. Offer them a discount on their next purchase or service if they write a review for you!
Whatever you do, don’t get bogged down thinking about how you are going to take on these three factors. Local SEO may seem daunting, but any time you think about ranking on the search engines it is important to remember one thing – the search engines are trying to think like humans. When put that way, local SEO is really just a good result of professionally representing your brand online, explaining why people love you, and making sure everyone knows how to get a hold of you.
Drew Fortin is the VP of Marketing at PowerSites®, an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Local Business Listings.