Quick Guide to Local SEO

When consumers are deciding where to take their business, whether it’s a restaurant or any other supplier, they will now frequently turn to the Internet for help. Local SEO is all about positioning your business as what they’re looking for. To determine which businesses show up in a consumer’s search results, Google considers several factors – not the least of which is your physical location, plus a load of other relevant factors.

Local SEO For Your Business – Where To Start?
If your business welcomes customers though the door or offers services in a specific area, then you need a local SEO strategy. The rise of mobile internet has changed the way people search the web and the likes of Google and Bing have had to put a greater emphasis on local services in their search listings. Search engines haven’t always been kind to smaller businesses – with results typically dominated by big brands – but local SEO gives smaller businesses a chance to climb the SERPs and give the big guns a run for their money.

What does Local SEO involve?

Here are just some of the issues that may effect your listing:

NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)
The most important part of local SEO is a trio of information known as NAP, or Name, Address, Phone Number. Local search engines use NAP as a barometer for a company’s existence. All of your listings online need to be in line or search engines may identify your business inaccurately. For example, your information on Yelp needs to be consistent with your information on Google+. Even a misplaced apostrophe, or using “St.” on one and “Street” on another will affect it. This part is hard. You can either take the time to find every citation on the internet yourself, or hire someone to do it.

Having A Social Media Presence
In a lot of cases, customers are using your social media pages as your website instead of your actual site. They’ll use Facebook, UrbanSpoon, Yelp, or TripAdvisor as their source of information about you. At the very least, your Google+ page needs to be completed and relevant. Google will favor any business that keeps its listing and Google+ content fresh and updated frequently. Even more, Google and Twitter just inked a deal that allows a company’s tweets to show up in Google Searches making social media even more relevant. Social signals are becoming more and more important for local SEO.

Google Places
If your business hasn’t got a Google account now is the time to set one up. If you already have an account, head over to Google My Business and list your business details with Google Places. Start with your basic information – company name, address and phone number – plus your business description. With your basic info all set up you can move on to your location settings and more specific business details like open hours and payment options. You can also upload photos to show people what they can expect when they arrive – especially helpful for restaurants and bars.

Citations refer to places around the web where your basic details are listed – the name, address and number you used to signup to Google Places. The more of these you have the better, but it is important they are all the same – and that means exactly the same. So don’t use abbreviations like “St.” in some listings but not others or search engines won’t be able match them up.

Directory listing sites are a great place to get your business details cited but be cautious of smaller or low-quality directories that attract spam, because backlinks from these websites could get you in trouble with Google.

The ability to get reviews is vastly important. Going back to social media, a lot of customers don’t even visit the actual website, instead opting to visit a review site or look at Google’s reviews. Both quality and quantity are important because these are testimonials Google in distributing for you and are also important in how Google is ranking you on their Maps and Places results. Having a positive score affects how Google places you.

Mobile internet is a major driving force behind the rise of local SEO so it goes without saying you should have a website that works flawlessly on mobile devices. The truth is local SEO means searchers on the go can make up their mind without going as far as your website – but you never know when a potential customer will land on your site and it would be a shame to lose them now.