You’ve heard of Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp. But to provide the best service possible to customers, you must continue there – especially if you’re a small business.
The best part? You can get started and strengthen your digital foundation in just 30 minutes after reading this article.
Earning customer trust over more well-known companies in your area is already hard enough. Fortunately, you can make a dent that’s proven to work with a robust local SEO strategy.
First off, what is Local SEO?
In short, it’s providing consistent, relevant information about your business to people looking for what you do.
From Moz, “Local SEO is all about increasing search visibility for businesses that serve their communities face-to-face.”
People want to know when you’re open and where you’re located quickly. It’s why Google introduced that short list of locations showing up on a map within search results, which are locally focused.
This is excellent news for small businesses because they have a visual way to gain attention and have excellent customer reviews about them right in front of potential new customers!
But just like the rest of Google, there’s a method to the madness of who gets the top spot.
So, how do I rank well in the map?
Many factors exist; no reputable company can guarantee a #1 ranking.
But it’s well-documented that every small business can take a few simple steps to get themselves moving in the right direction:
- Claim your (free!) business listings on various sites, including Google My Business, Facebook, Bing Places, Yelp, and more.
- Ensure the NAP and other information is consistent (more on this below)
- Include a link to your optimized website in each listing.
- Optimize your website for local – including city/state in page titles, local keywords used on pages, etc.
- Optimize your entire SEO – fast page load times, easy-to-use design on mobile, great content, and make it easy to get to the best information.
- Have authentic, 5-star customer reviews and respond to positive and negative reviews.
This list is a starting point. Unfortunately, many high-level listings are blocked, which leads into:
You need to know about the Big Five
Data Axle, Neustar Localeze, GPS Network, and ExpressUpdate (a.k.a. Infogroup).
There are many listing sites, but most rely on at least one of these five to ensure business accuracy. Even Google sometimes offers “suggestions” for your listing if your information differs from these databases.
Getting your information in the right place is essential and must be accurate.
Sadly, sending in your info and getting listed is sometimes impossible.
Three options for getting into these:
Use their Citation Building service and spend $100/location submitting to data aggregators. Then, immediately inject the correct information into the Local SEO sphere (and the service doesn’t auto-renew, so you can do it once and forget about it).
The white-glove treatment. It’s more expensive but does much more hands-on work and is far more thorough.
Whitespark is our preferred option for those needing significant help or those in hyper-competitive niches.
Fun fact: We work with both platforms if you need small business marketing help!
Don’t sleep on the importance of the NAP
(Sorry, we couldn’t help it)
NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number.
NAP consistency – a.k.a. “Is your business NAP the same on all listings + your website?” – is a significant factor. If you have it right, it’s a plus. Get it wrong, and it’s a severe minus. (More on this here and a list of negative ranking factors here)
In other words, if you get this right, additional efforts in this space will be meaningful.
First, have the information in the footer of your website so it appears on every page. A (totally fake) example would be:
Rule Marketing Group
777 Marketing Drive
Macon, Ga., 30122
Then, use the same information as above in any listing you set up on a Facebook page, Yelp, etc. No additional commas, LLCs, or typos (which happen far more often than you might think!).
Pro tip: Pay attention to the business category you select. Use the most accurate category from Google My Business, then select that same category as the “Primary category” on all other business listings (or as close as you can get).
So, what can you do in the next 30 minutes?
Quickly build a foundation:
- If you haven’t, claim your free listings on Google My Business, Bing Places, Yelp, Facebook, Yellowpages, and Foursquare and get as much information that fits your business as you can
- Make sure your NAP information on each matches EXACTLY with what is on your website. No “LLC” in one place and not the other. No comma on the website company name, but not the listing.
- Include the city/state you are in on various on-site items, such as page titles and in the copy where it makes sense.
- Ensure the website checks your standard SEO boxes: loads quickly, has great customer experience, and authoritative and helpful content.
In 15 minutes a week, you can build on this foundation by:
- Finding out keywords people search for that trigger these types of listings and optimizing your site’s content for them.
- Including relevant keywords in the business descriptions on all of your listings
- Running a branding campaign to encourage more people to search for your business name in Google and click on your links/listings
Bonus: Submit your information through a program, such as MozLocal, Whitespark, or BrightLocal, to get your data into the “Big Five” and jumpstart your efforts.
So there you have it: An easy way to begin positively impacting your small business with Local SEO!
But of course, we understand that any small business has a million other things to do. If you need help with your local SEO at any step, consider our small business marketing services.