You’ve optimized your small business website for search engines, and you’ve made sure that it’s also mobile friendly. But if you want your business to come up at the top in search results, there’s something else you need to do: improve your local search rankings.
More and more users are searching on mobile devices — last year, according to Google, was the first time more searches were conducted on mobile devices than on desktop computers. That trend isn’t going away, and as a result, Google is increasingly favoring locally optimized websites in its search engine results page. Local search engine optimization (LSEO) can really boost your visibility, and it’s not hard to do. In fact, one simple step will drastically improve your local search rankings: Claim and optimize your Google My Business listing.
Claiming your listing is easy, and you’ve probably already done it. But if you want to climb up higher in local search results, you also need to optimize it. Here’s what to do:
Make your listing as complete and detailed as possible. The more information you provide about your business, the more data Google has to work with in determining if your business is relevant to a user’s search request. Include your business’s name, address, phone number, hours and a link to your website. You should also add images, videos and anything else that will give more details about your business.
It’s especially important to make sure your NAP (name, address and phone number) information is the same in your Google My Business listing, on your website, and on any other local search directories on which your business is listed. When I say “the same,” I mean that it needs to be written out in exactly the same way. If one of your listing says you’re located on N.E. Jackson St., another says you’re located on Northeast Jackson Street and a third has you on N.E. Jackson Street, Google may read this as three different businesses, which will negatively affect your results.
Once your Google My Business listing is optimized, do the same for as many other local search directories as you can find. This sounds time-consuming — and it is. Fortunately, you can use a service to list your business on local search directories, including but not limited to Google My Business, and to update your listings for you as needed.
You should check your listings at least once a month and make sure all the information is still current and consistent. For example, if you have different hours in the summer than in the winter, it’s important to keep that updated. Updating your listings with new images from time to time will also help your search results.
Beyond local search directories, good LSEO also depends on boosting the rest of your online presence. Factors that Google considers include:
- Online reviews. Make sure that you stay on top of any online ratings in review sites where your business is mentioned, and respond to reviews in a timely fashion. Having more online reviews will boost your search engine results.
- Social media. Having a strong presence on social media will help your LSEO. For example, if local customers are sharing your content, liking your business and posting about you, it will show search engines that your business has a local presence, helping it come up higher in local search results.
Optimizing your business website for local search does take some time, but if you’re trying to attract a local clientele, it’s well worth the effort.
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.