Local SEO is a hugely important topic these days, especially for businesses. If you have a location or locations that customers can visit, having a presence in local search results is the best way to get more people through the door. It’s elementary when you think about it!
Locality and proximity is what it’s all about, as people want to know what’s around them and how to get there fast. From restaurants to bicycle shops, plumbers to movie theaters, having your business front and center when somebody searches, whatever the device, will mean you’re more likely to get the traffic.
So how do you go about winning at local search engine optimization? Read on to find out- it’s not as difficult as you might think!
Google Local- Places for Businesses
Creating a Google+ page and having your business feature on Google Local for Businesses is one of the most important things you can do in optimizing for local search. Google is the most used search engine around, so it makes sense to use all of its features to capture the attention of searchers who use it.
Also, Google can have an impact when it comes to the ‘trickle down’ effect of data to other websites like Yellow Pages, which means you can gain an advantage over the competition by making sure you’re using everything properly.
Setting up your Google Local profile couldn’t be easier. Obviously you need a Google account, and then it’s a matter of inputting your data, and confirming your business page by requesting a PIN from Google (this will normally take 2 weeks). This can be done over the phone or by requesting a post card to be sent to your business address with a PIN on it. Enter the PIN and you’ll be good to go.
Some Important Things to Remember with Google Places For Business and Google+
Enter all possible information. From phone number to address, hours of operation and email contact, the more you provide, the better you’ll be. One of the most important pieces of information is the business category, so make sure you choose the right one. People won’t use a company that doesn’t meet what they’re looking for, so if you offer plumbing services, don’t categorize yourself as a pet shop!
Get your map marker in the correct location. If people find your listing, but you’re in the wrong place, that’s a rookie error. Check and double check that little red marker is in EXACTLY the right place, and it’ll make it easy for people on the move to visit you, as well as those planning a visit from home in advance using Maps.
Make sure your Google+ page is up to date for people that show interest in your business. Adding all the right contact information is a start, but your page is your identity so think about uploading some custom graphics like a logo and header image.
What is the Google+ cover photo size?
Recommended size: 1080 x 608
Minimum size: 480 x 270
Maximum size: 2120 x 1192
Getting a cool design on your page will make a strong first impression, and likely make searchers visit your website for more information. That’s pretty cool, right?
The Importance of Business Listings and Local Citations
Business listings and local citations are sites that let business owners (and/ or people who have used businesses) add information that can be readily viewed and circulated around the web. Winning at local search means selecting the best and most highly valued listing sites and getting your business on there ASAP.
Remember this: the more your site appears on business listings around the web, the more traffic you’ll likely get, and also the better your local search performance will be. But also keep in mind this important point: always choose the best listings around. There’s no point in just blanketing everything, you want to choose quality of quantity, as quality means higher value, and that’s what we want to capture.
The Big 4: Aggregator Listings
Just like Big Brother who can see everything in George Orwell’s novel 1984, the world of local listings has similar oversight from the ‘Big 4’ aggregator listings. These are the absolute priority to target for any business, because data from them feeds most other listing sites out there. Get listed on one and you’ll find your business popping continuously elsewhere.
The Importance of Accurate Data
Because data flows between different sites, especially from the aggregator listings, it’s important to get it right the first time. Accuracy means success in the world of Local, and that gives you a leg up on your competition. Make sure all information you enter is correct, but especially:
- Business name
- Business address
- Business phone number
- Business website URL
- Business category (electrician/ pet shop/ accountant etc)
The last thing you want is to find a mistake in your data. Not only will it look bad for customers who might not find you at all, but you’ll have to spend extra time and effort getting everything corrected. Make sure it’s 100% right the first time, and you won’t have any issues.
A List of 20 Business Listings/Local Citation Sites You’ve Got to Be On
There are literally hundreds of business listing and local citation sites out there, some better than others. But here’s a list of 20 that we think all businesses should be on:
- Neustar Localeze
- Google Places For Business
- Yahoo Local Listings
- Yellow Pages
- Super pages
- Hot Frog
- Yellowbook Local
- White Pages
Here’s a little trick: if you want to save some time, and have a budget to spend, consider using submissions services like Yext that help get your listings out there quickly and efficiently. We’d recommend submitting to the Big 4 manually, but if you feel an extra presence is required, this isn’t a bad idea to consider.
So really local SEO is pretty easy, but absolutely essential, to get right. Optimizing your Google+ and Pages For Business pages are one way to get more traffic and make a big impact, but business listings can be just as helpful.
We’d love to hear how you’re using local search to help your business, so shout out in the comments below!