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What is “local SEO” and how can it help your business?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is how you get your website or business to show up on Google and other search engines. This is one of the first places people go when they are searching for a new local service that they need.

If you do a Google search right now for your top service, what shows up?

What is local SEO?

Local SEO is how you get your business to show up for searches on Google that have “local intent.” Google can generally tell when someone is trying to search for a local business, and so it tries to show the most relevant results to them.

When people search for phrases like “dentists near me” or “restaurants in los angeles,” they are showing local intent by searching for businesses in a specific location.

Google presents specific types of results for these searches with local intent. You may be familiar with the “map pack” (the map with three listings underneath it) from your own Google searches. That is something that Google only shows when it thinks the user is displaying a local intent.

 

How do you know if you need local SEO?

If you have a business that serves a specific geographic area, you need local SEO. If customers are going to be searching for local services that garner these map packs and local search results, then you need local SEO. If your business is not taking advantage of the benefits of local SEO, your competitors definitely will.

How can you rank in local searches?

SEO is generally this huge complex map and there are a lot of factors that go into it, and while that still holds true for local SEO, there are a few huge steps that you can take to get started: (1) create a Google My Business listing, (2) build citations, and (3) get some online reviews.

Google My Business

The very first thing you need to do if you want potential customers to find your business in local searches is to create a Google My Business listing. This is free and relatively simple to do.

Go to business.google.com to get started.

Once you’ve created your Google My Business listing, make sure it is optimized with as much information about your business as possible.

Be sure to include the following items:

  • Business name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Website
  • Hours
  • Services or products
  • Photos (with your logo and picture of your location if applicable)

To fully optimize your Google My Business listing, use our checklist!

Citations

Citation building is a huge part of local SEO. Citations are just listings in other online web directories. Your Google My Business listing is a citation.

Once you have a Google My Business listing in place, it’s important to make sure you build some of these citations by listing your business on other prominent web directories. This helps Google to cross reference your business information with other websites to make sure that it is providing accurate information to its users. The more accurate citations you have out there, the more Google trusts the information on your Google My Business listing.

Most of these prominent citations are free as well, so this is a really inexpensive way to get a jumpstart on your SEO–you just need a little time to make it happen.

Here are a few of the most common citations you should build:

  • Bing
  • Yelp
  • Facebook (yes, even your Facebook page counts as a citation)
  • MapQuest
  • Foursquare
  • Manta
  • CitySearch
  • ShowMeLocal

Important Note: It is crucial that you make sure the information you share in each of your listings is consistent with your Google My Business listing. At the very least, your business name, address, and phone number (also called NAP) should all be the same across each listing. Even the difference between “Your Business Name” and “Your Business Name, Inc.” can hurt your reputation with Google. We suggest keeping a reference document in place so you know exactly what information to put on each listing. This can also help you keep track of the various passwords and logins you create across each site.

Reviews

Online reviews are crucial, not only to help your business rank well in local searches but also to help convert new customers. Online reviews send great trust signals to Google and its users.

The more reviews you have (especially if the majority of them are positive), the better chance you have of ranking better in relevant searches on Google.

Here are a couple of ways that you can get new reviews:

  • Ask your customers to leave a review on Google
  • Pass out review cards to customers with a QR code that links to your business listing
  • Send customers short links to your Google listing
  • Use a review management software to send links to your customers to share their feedback

Conclusion

If you serve a specific geographic area, you need local SEO. Get started on the tips in this article today to help your business start showing up where it counts.

Need help managing your local SEO? We have a team of experts who is ready to help! Just give us a call today to discuss a free proposal.


You might also find this article helpful: How To Rank In A City Where You Don't Have An Address

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