Remember the days that you had to Google a place for lunch before you left the house earlier that day? Or, take it even further back and think about a time that you opened up the phone book to find the closest hardware store.
The growth of mobile technology has made it possible for us to search for nearby businesses literally at the exact moment we need them. If you decide you have a craving for ice cream while walking around downtown, you can take out your phone and simply type in “ice cream shops near me” and be given a list of local spots to indulge in your favorite sundae.
These local search results are an amazing opportunity for businesses to generate traffic and prospective clients in the geographic area they serve, making them ideal prospects. That’s why local SEO is such an important part of any small business’ digital marketing strategy.
Moz recently released their 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors Report that details the elements that affect local SEO. With the updates to this report and the growing importance of local SEO, I figured it would be a good idea to get our SEO analysts to weigh in on ways to improve local SEO. Read on below to find out their top 6 tips for improving your rankings in search results.
1. Verify and Optimize Your Google My Business Profile Page
It’s important to ensure your Google My Business Profile is set up correctly and maintained for accuracy. Local search results feature the most relevant results for each search. If your business information is complete and accurate, then it’s much easier and more likely that Google will match you to the right searches.
Make sure that you have entered all of the correctly business information into Google My Business. You should select the profile category that most accurately describes your business and verify your location(s). Make sure that when someone looks at your profile they know what you do, where you are, and when they can visit you. List your updated hours, phone number, and any other relevant contact information in your profile.
And it’s important to keep this information up to date. For example, if you’re closed for a holiday, you should make sure that’s in your profile so it says you are closed at that time. Or, if your phone number or location changes, this needs to be updated as well.
2. Get Your “NAP” in Order
If you want your business to rank at the top of the local maps results, it’s critical that you keep your “NAP” consistent. NAP refers to your business Name, Address, and Phone number.
You’ll want to keep your NAP consistent anywhere you can, including:
- Your website – make sure to include your NAP on the footer of your website so it’s on every page
- Business profiles and directory listings – you can use MozLocal to check for any errors
And if you’ve ever changed business names or addresses or phone numbers, then you’ll want to search for instances of old/outdated info and get it updated.
3. Get LOTS of Citations
“Citations” are mentions of your NAP across different websites and listings. Here are the steps we recommend for getting lots of citations.
- Submit to the major data aggregators. You can do this via several companies including MozLocal or YEXT or BrightLocal or AdviceLocal. The best deal we’ve found is BrightLocal which is $55/year.
- Get listed in lots of directories. Focus on local, national and industry-specific directories.
- Publish press releases. By including your NAP in the byline of your release, you can get dozens or even hundreds of citations when your press release is republished online. You can read about this approach in this case study here.
4. Get Reviews and Respond to Them
Whether customers are finding your business on social media or simply searching in Google, one of the first things they see is your business reviews. This can instantly put a good or bad taste in their mouth, depending on what those reviews say.
From eating at a new restaurant to buying new clothes or choosing a doctor, people are reading reviews. Positive reviews on social media and Google My Business can show your potential customers that your past clients trust you and believe in the product and services you have to offer. By asking your past customers for reviews, you will not only be helping your local SEO, but you will also be helping attract more people to your business.
You can add another layer to this by making sure to respond to reviews. If someone leaves you a positive review, thank them. If for some reason someone leaves a negative review, make sure to promptly provide a response that is nice, professional, and explains why you feel that’s not correct. By connecting with your customers, it shows that you care about their opinions.
5. Optimize Your Website for Service + Geographic Keywords
One way to improve the likelihood of ranking in Local Search Results is to make sure that the pages on your site are optimized.
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is having one “Services” page on their website that lists all of the different products or services you have available.
It is much more SEO-friendly to have separate service area pages for each of the services your business offers. That way, when people are looking for a specific service of yours, that specific page can rank in Google. In addition, if you operate in multiple towns, then you may want to add “service area” pages focused on each of the 5-10 primary towns within your service area.
It’s also extremely important that the title tags and meta descriptions on your site are optimized.
Think of the title tags and meta descriptions on your site as key real estate to promote and describe your business. Title tags can have geographical keywords in them to promote your site to the areas you want to rank in. Meta descriptions can be a little longer and have more descriptive keywords to relay the message your title tags are already saying.
Ultimately, both title tags and meta descriptions can serve as perfect billboards in search results that illustrate your business’ services and improve your SEO presence.
6. Avoid Keyword Stuffing
There has been a long standing belief (mainly through black-hat SEOs) that adding multiple cities or ZIP code keywords into the footer of your website helps boost the ranking of a website for different location-based search queries. At one time this actually worked.
However, Google is smarter than that. They have since released algorithm updates which have penalized sites who try to manipulate the search engine with this frowned-upon technique. Therefore, if you stuff keywords into your site it can actually hurt your rankings rather than help them.
Meet the Main Street SEO Team
Peter is Founder and CMO of Main Street ROI. At Main Street ROI, Peter oversees client SEO campaigns and leads the company’s marketing initiatives, including developing strategic partnerships.
Peter is an expert at direct-response copywriting, email marketing, conversion strategy and search engine optimization (SEO). Peter’s marketing thought leadership has been published on leading business news sources including Forbes.com, Inc.com, FoxBusiness.com, MSN.com.
Peter earned his bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard College.
Prior to Main Street ROI, Peter was a drummer in New York City, where he recorded albums and performed with various rock bands and hip-hop bands.
He lives with his wife Samantha and sons Ian and Adam in Connecticut.
Elliot Allan, SEO Analyst
Elliot is a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) analyst at Main Street ROI. He is responsible for producing website audits and developing monthly SEO plans for clients.
With over 5 years experience in SEO, digital marketing and web development, Elliot has worked with businesses small and large following graduation from Southampton Solent University in the UK, where he earned his Bachelor of Science ICT degree. He enjoys the “nitty gritty” of analytics; breaking down data and helping clients grow their business with meticulous project planning, execution and thinking outside of the box.
Aside from SEO, Elliot is a big soccer fan, enjoys craft beer, music festivals and documentaries. He is also a part time day trader, which developed from his passion for research, analytics and interpreting chart data.
Michael Cianciulli, Digital Marketing Analyst
Michael is a Digital Marketing Analyst at Main Street ROI. He helps research, create, and manage digital marketing campaigns for clients.
Michael is in his fourth year at Hofstra University where he studies marketing and business. He plans to obtain his MBA after graduating.
Outside of school and work Michael spends his time with his family, playing golf with friends, and cheering on the Yankees and the Patriots while shaking his head at the Knicks. He is also an avid fan of European Soccer.
Josh Hacking, Digital Marketing Analyst
Joshua is a Digital Marketing Analyst at Main Street ROI. He helps research, create, and manage digital marketing campaigns for clients.
Joshua earned a Bachelor Degree in Business with a concentration in Marketing at Nyack College. After graduation he started work in social media marketing and for almost two years helped small businesses with their social sites and campaigns. Now as a member of our team Joshua is focusing on helping client’s craft, and achieve success in their digital marketing campaigns.
Outside of the office Joshua loves spending time with his family, playing yard and board games, and supporting his favorite European Soccer team Manchester United.