Be in the kNOW: Local SEO for Small Business
Small business SEO can be a monumental task when first starting and becomes even more overwhelming when you find out there’s more to it.
If you already have the “regular” search engine optimization stuff down, then what about the Local stuff?
If you say to yourself, “WAIT — local SEO is different?!“, don’t fret!
You’re not going to have to “redo” your small businesses SEO or anything like that. For the most part, it’s adding some new pages and a few other things.
Before we begin, let me clarify the difference between SEO and Local SEO.
→ SEO can be called different things such as Organic SEO, Global SEO, Traditional SEO, and several other variations. In general, SEO helps with finding information on the internet.
“Regular” SEO Search Example:
- How to do SEO
- What is the name of the 1st President?
- Which cats have smushed faces?
→ Local SEO is used to help find places around you, specifically.
Local SEO Search Example:
- Best SEO Agencies near you.
- Best Thai Resturant.
- Smushed Faced Cat breeders in Pennsylvania (I suggest searching animal shelters first)
Next thing to consider is when to use “regular” vs. local SEO.
We use (“regular”) SEO when trying to get found on the internet through search engines.
When you use Local SEO, it still has the search aspect going on, but it helps to target audiences in a specific geographical area based on a business’s physical location.
Where to Start – Claim Your Business
Requirement: Have a brick and mortar location.
Claim your business on the different search engines and popular business directories (Yelp and Yellow Pages: You can do each for free. Yelp will often call about services).
After claiming your business, it’s time to verify your biz. Becoming verified with Google can either be fast or take up to 2 weeks depending on which verification method you choose. P.S. Most businesses verify with a postcard. Other companies may have the option to confirm by phone, e-mail, or search console. If you happen to have 10 or more locations to verify, there is a bulk verification option available.
Bing has similar options for business verification.
Becoming verified allows your small business SEO to appear within that search engine’s map when potential customers are searching for related companies or products that are close to them.
Website with Local SEO
While you’re waiting for the verification to finish, it’s time to move onto your site. Disclaimer: Adding Local SEO can feel like a daunting task, especially when going in blindly (I’ve been there, and it sucks!). Let’s go in together and get you found.
Title Tags with Location
Title tags are essential for naming a page. They give us (and search engine bots) an idea of what the page is all about. Having your location (City and State) within the title helps people and search engine bots know that you are local. The tricky part is fitting this info in with the appropriate title and keeping it all under 60 characters. Going over the 60 characters causes titles to get cut off on the local search results page.
What if you are one of the lucky people with a long city name? You can add the name of the city in your title. Example: “John’s Hardware Supply – Rancho Santa Margarita.” (47 characters). Sometimes states will have matching city names, but people who are searching will see that in the map results. It is acceptable to use your zip code or abbreviated state name after the city name too.
Not part of Local SEO, but still relevant. As with titles, meta descriptions gives another look at what a page is all about. Being as descriptive as possible is essential. Also, be personable and keep things simple! Nobody wants to visit a super ‘dry’ and overtly complex page.
Another thing to note, meta descriptions don’t directly impact your ranking on search engines, but they can provide a good user experience if they accurately describe your page. Otherwise, as a default, a snippet of the first few sentences gets used as your description. Try to keep this close to 160 characters, anything over gets cut off with a ‘…’.
NAP in Footer
Don’t sleep on this opportunity! Name, Address, and Phone in your footer will help current, and future customers contact you easier. It also helps to solidify your business identity. Extra points for making your phone number clickable with: <a href=”tel:1-883-222-3333“>1-883-222-3333</a>
Store Locator for Merchandise You Carry
Not only is this one of my favorite ways of gaining additional traffic (and possibly earning a couple of backlinks in the process), but it’s easy and straightforward for retailers use!
The chances are high that many of the companies who make the items that you sell in your store, also have a website. Obvious, right?
The kicker: Most of those sites also have a (retail or store) locator that allows visitors to find their products in stores near them easily!
The other kicker: Many companies don’t always (automatically) add your shop to their Store Locator. You’ll need to reach out to them by going to their contact or affiliate page and submitting a form to be added to their locator. If you can’t find the info online, send them an email asking for instructions.
Most websites with store locators list the store’s website as a hyperlink which can give you a backlink if they don’t use the <nofollow> tag. Most of those sites don’t use them, so it can, in turn, help your website rank a little and bring highly targeted customers to your store.
Create Pages for Products Carried
Sometimes the simple things get overlooked, and this tends to be one of them! Making pages for different product lines and then describing them in your own words opens up the opportunity of being found easier after the search engine indexes the page.
Here are some examples of good and not-so-good ideas when making the pages. Let’s assume you’re a hardware store:
Good pages to make (if you carry these products):
- DeWalt Hand Tools
- Dremel Multi Tools
- Armstrong Flooring
Not-so-good pages to create:
- 2 1/2″ Nails
- Big Hammers
- White Paint
See the difference?
Using a brand name that has a line of tools is a good practice. Makes it specific enough that it’ll be easy to categorize and you’ll have plenty to write about!
Also using an established brand name helps with buyers intent.
From an SEO perspective, it could open more opportunities of being indexed by search engines based merely on the keywords related to those brands.
After getting a verified business account with Google. You will get the huge perk of being able to reply to customer reviews! Positive reviews do well with a thank you, but a negative review may (PSA: you should!) require an apology for the sub-par experience. Also, provide a way for them to contact you directly if it can’t get resolved online.
Ultimately, publically handling reviews professionally and with a positive and caring attitude shows that you value what your customers have to say. It also shows that you have excellent customer service!
For some reason, many businesses don’t ask customers to review them online. If you want to know what your customers are thinking, ask them to send a review! How else will you know? However, make sure to avoid any incentive when asking customers to review your business (it’s against Google’s review policy).
Ultimately, comments and criticisms are one of the factors used by Google for ranking because they’re searching for quality and relevance. Keep in mind that Google CAN tell if the review/comment is legit or not!
Local SEO for Small Business Overview
Setting up business accounts on search engines, getting verified, being added to store locators, and filling websites with valuable information can be a lot of work. Doing all of this over time provides your site with another bonus of being updated with fresh content on a regular basis.
Ultimately, getting each of these things done will give you a solid base and plenty of places to work on to advance your Local SEO efforts.
So there you have it, a few essential pieces of Local SEO for Small Businesses (and a checklist)! In the meantime, if you’re looking for more info on how to improve SEO, check to see if you have duplicate content issues on your website. Also, stay tuned for additional UGH! Media posts that revolve around practical digital solutions for the small (or aspiring) business owner.
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