If you run a local business, you must have realised how crucial it is to attract local customers. You would also have been told that your business needs local seo. But for many business owners, term local seo remains a confusing topic. What do they need to do? why do they need it?

As per the statistics, 1 in 3 of all Google searches being  for local businesses, getting your business onto the first page of Google in your local area is more important than ever.

As a small business owner, you need to let Google know where you are located and what you have to offer so you’re not only showing up on Google search results pages but you’re showing up on Google places or Google map listing as well.

To help small business owners understand the local SEO, I have created this blog post, which will highlight significant insights about local seo and why it is useful to your business.

a. What types of businesses need Local SEO?

If you run a business where majority of your customers are located within the vicinity of 15 Km or may be less from your business location, you need local SEO. That could be a massage therapy, local restaurant, cafe, retail outlet, dentist, physiotherapist or a lawyer. Also, if you have a physical address and if you need your customers to find your business who could be located 50Km away, you would still need a local seo for that location.

b. How Local SEO is different from an average SEO campaign?

Local SEO is a lot different from your average SEO campaign, and the local search results are changing more rapidly than any other. Google places/maps operates on a different algorithm to a traditional organic results.

  • Local SEO triggered places listing can appear higher and larger than organic SEO results.
  • Listing represent physical businesses and thus puts customers closer to a purchase and more readily engage.
  • There are only 3 places position available. To appear, you must beat your competitors.

Now you know that what is local seo and how it works, it is a time to create a strategy. Below are some of the most popular and most important pointers to create your local SEO strategy.

1: Create Local Google Places Pages.

In doing the local seo, the first step is making sure that you have a local business page. Google Places is the information that a search engine receives and uses when listing your business. A search engine will probably already have your business listed in results, but your Google Places page allows you to control what information Google has and presents to searchers about your business.

Below are important links from where you will be able to create your local business listings.

Before creating a local listing you must make sure that don’t have any existing listing on Google or Bing. If you find one, you must claim your listing and update your information from your dashboard.

2. Choose Proper Business Categories

Google business places listings are categorised to help users find just the sort of business they want.

Categorising your business correctly is actually one of the most crucial steps to optimizing for local search. Several local search engines offer you the ability to place your business into 2-5 categories to help them understand what your business does.

There are strong indications that Google uses the category information you provide, in part, to decide when or how prominently to display your listing.

With this in mind it is very important to select categories that accurately describe your business and that will resonate with your potential customers.

3. Accurate Business Citations.

Citations are defined as mentions of your business name and address on other webpages. An example of a citation might be an online yellow pages directory where your business is listed, but not linked to. Citations can also be found on some of the famous local directories like True Local, start local or hotfrog etc.

You need to make sure all of your information is filled out and you have consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone) data for your company across all listings. It is possible that your business is already listed somewhere by someone else, but don’t panic! All you need to do is claim this listing, often referred to also as a citation.

You can claim a citation by first looking to see if there is another business by the same name with the same location. Claiming any listing of your business online verifies that you are the owner of a valid business and authorized to maintain its presence on the web. Each online local business index has its own claiming process with unique steps to verify your listing.

 Citations are particularly important in less-competitive niches, like plumbing or electrical, where many service providers don’t have websites themselves. Without much other information, the search engines rely heavily on whatever information they can find.

4. Online Reviews.

Google looks at reviews as a major factor for ranking, however more than anything your reviews are for Google users who see your company on a SERP. The emergence of numerous review sites has created an unprecedented, ongoing online conversation about local businesses. The wise local business owner will monitor this dynamic conversation and join in when appropriate to earn loyalty and control damage. If you’re in an industry that doesn’t get a lot of reviews, even one or two bad ones can have a dramatic impact on your business. Reviews are quick and easy ways for consumers to decide which link they want to click.

Fortunately, there are many different ways to improve your number of reviews. You don’t want to have any fake reviews or offer any gifts for those giving you reviews (you want them to be natural), but you can put a button on your webpage so it’s easy to get started for visitors, prompt visitors to leave a review after purchasing something or visiting a particular landing page, or actually talk with people in your store or company about leaving a review.

5. Quality Photos.

This point goes back to optimizing your listing, but it’s so important it deserves its own number. When people are searching for local businesses, they want to see photos. Most local accounts including Google+ Local allow you to upload at least 10 pictures. Your goal should try to be to have that many photos uploaded. Below are different ways to use images for local SEO.

  • Provide a photo of your business facility location/building on your site. If there’s a particularly beautiful or interesting view looking out from your business, you might consider adding that as well.
  • For businesses such as restaurants, it may be beneficial to add photos of celebrities who have visited your restaurant.
  • Provide photos of the staffs as a team
  • Provide photos of all your products or services.

All you have to do to upload photos is visit your local listing and click a little link that says “add photos.” It’s as easy as that.

6. Optimise Your Website.

Part of local search is your actual website as well as what is being said about your site around the web—it’s not just your local listings and pages. Make sure you have your contact information and preferably a phone number somewhere on your website. It’s also important to try and include city or regional keywords wherever possible and write content that is specific to your local area.

It’s very common to add in a map or link to a map on a local business’s website. I think it’s beneficial for SEO to have the map image stored on the same domain name as the site, though it’s preferable for users to pull in a map dynamically through one of the major providers so that all the zooming and panning controls can be available.

If your local business has its own blog, add a blog map onto it. This will add a local signal to the blog, and also bring it to the attention of other bloggers in your local area.

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