For many small and medium business website owners, ranking locally is more important than achieving a good ranking in the general SERPs. The majority of searches with transactional intent are local and mobile. You’re losing custom if your business doesn’t appear in a prominent position in the search engine results when a potential customer picks up their smartphone and enters a query that relates to your business.
In this article, I’m going to assume that your site’s search optimization is in good condition: that you understand the value of high-quality content, that the pages of your site are optimized for relevant keywords, and that the site itself is optimized for performance and crawlability. If you’ve got all your ducks in a row, but your site still doesn’t make a good showing in local results, here are three things you can do to improve local visibility.
The Power Of NAP
NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone — the three most important details about your business from a local SEO perspective. Firstly, and most obviously, make sure that NAP details are included on your website. It’s important that your business name, its address, and its phone number are available to users and to Googlebot. It’s vital that these details are both correct and consistent both internally and on external sites.
Ideally, Google would be able to find NAP information by itself once it’s present and correct, but there’s no harm in giving it a little help. Schema.org is a system of markup that indicates to non-human users what information on a site actually means — which parts represent a business, which a telephone number for that business, and so on. Search Engine Journal has an excellent guide to implementing Schema.org markup for local SEO.
Google My Business
You’ve probably noticed that some searches in Google display a prominent business listing at the top of the results with star ratings, reviews, a descriptive snippet, opening hours, and directions. Much of that information is drawn from Google My Business. After your on-site optimization is in good shape, the next step is to give Google the information it needs to create an information-rich listing for your business. Make sure that the information is correct and consistent with the information on your website.
Local Link Building
Incoming links are probably still the most important signal for determining a site’s ranking in the search engine results. There are two major types of links: editorial links and citations.
Citations are a mention of your business alongside a piece of information like the phone number, address, or other relevant details. Think of sites like Yelp and other business directories. Google uses citations as an indication of relevance. There are many potential sources of citations; Moz has an excellent list of citations sources by category.
Don’t forget to research any business directories that are specific to your area and approach their maintainers for inclusion.
Editorial links include links on local media, local blogs, local government websites, nonprofits, and so on. There are various tactics businesses can use to get links onto this sort of site, including guest blogging, simply asking, running competitions or giveaways, running events or giving donations to local non-profits. This is an area in which a bit of imaginative promotion can have substantial benefits.
Local SEO is an ongoing and time-consuming process, but in an age in which the majority of customers and users discover businesses through a local web search on a mobile device, it’s well worth the effort.