If your business has multiple locations, or even just one physical location, it's worth investing in a Local SEO strategy. Your customers and potential customers are searching for your services and you need them to visit your website, leave a review, or find your physical location. There are steps you can take to improve your chances of showing up in Google's Local Pack, Local Finder, Google Maps, Facebook and organic search rankings. The following five Local SEO basics range from super easy to mildly technical. Here's what you need to do.
1. Claim & optimize your Google My Business account.
If you haven't done this yet, go to business.google.com to get started. You will need to verify that you own or manage the business. If your business has multiple locations, make sure to claim and optimize each one.
The main factors in optimizing your listings are:
- Make sure your business name matches your website, and is spelled/punctuated correctly and consistently.
- Add a description for your business.
- Check that the address, phone number, email, website, and other information about your website is listed and accurate.
- Add good photos of your business, employees, interior and exterior of building.
- Create a Post. This adds visual interest to your listing when it shows up on the right hand column of Google search page or on Google Maps. Here is an example of a Google Post from one of our clients, Euro Motorworks:
2. Scan your listings and citations across the internet.
Google penalizes websites that have inconsistent listings across the internet. This means if your business is named "Sally's Toy Store" it should be spelled and punctuated the same across all listings: Google, Facebook, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Angie's List, and other review sites. You may find after doing an audit of your listings that one is spelled "Sallie's Toy Store" and another "Sally's Toys" or that one listing has an incorrect address for your location.
You can use tools like MOZ Local to help manage listings. If you have multiple locations, the level of automation and time savings may be worth the fee, which is fairly low for the basic package.
3. Optimize website and location landing pages.
Do each of your locations have it's own page on your website? If not, you should create new landing pages for each location. Then, point your Google My Business listing to the correct page. Make sure each page is optimized with the location name, city, address and all pertinent information that a user would need if they are looking for your exact location. Structure URLs, Page Titles, Headings, Meta Descriptions appropriately, for example:
- URL: www.sallystoystore.com/locations/indianapolis
- Page Title: Sally's Toy Store | Educational Toys in Indianapolis, Indiana
- Meta Description: Sally's Toy Store specializes in educational and hand-crafted toys for ages infant to high school. Visit our Indianapolis location on 123 Main Street, Indianapolis IN.
4. Respond to all reviews.
In the past, and we still see it today, businesses might only respond to negative reviews. This practice needs to change. Google, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Angie's List—wherever your customers are leaving reviews you have the opportunity to respond! It's an opportunity to demonstrate your friendly customer service and build relationships. Your audience is the customer (who you should be thanking for their business!) and the potential customers who are reading the reviews. I get a good feeling about a person or business when they take the time to respond to all of their reviews.
- Free PR
- Customer relationship building for repeat business and referrals
- Google recommends doing it, so need we say more
Tip: Don't use a canned, copy/paste reply. Personalize the reply to the reviewer and respond to the details of their review if possible.
You can respond directly to new and old reviews right in your Google My Business account dashboard.
5. Local structured data markup
When users search for businesses on Google Search or Maps, their search results may display what Google calls a "Knowledge Graph card." You've probably seen this. It is a prominent area with details about a business that looks like this:
You can affect what Google displays in this area by adding local structured data markup to your website. This gets a little technical and you may need a developer to help you out. Google offers technical resources here to help you get started. By adding this to your website, you can specify complex business hours (standard, late night, all day, seasonal) and even define order and reservation scenarios (order food deliver, reserve a fitness class).
Whatever your business type, you can use a local structured data markup to enhance the way your business is displayed in a Google Search or Map results.
This final tip is really the only one that is on the complicated side. Tips 1-4 are tasks that anyone in your marketing or web department should be able to handle. If local SEO is your priority, or getting into the top listings on a local map pack is your goal, you should immediately start working on these five things! Let us know if you need help.
Additional Local SEO Resources: