5 Tips for Improving Your LOCAL Search Ranking

If you do business on a local basis, you probably have asked yourself why your business isn’t on the “map”. What is the map I’m talking about?

This one:

Barber_Shop_Google_Search

Those seven search results sort of by themselves associated with the map and push pins generate a tremendous amount of new business for those listed in these search results.

As a specialist in helping businesses with their online brand optimization, most small businesses want to be listed in these search results.

Before I get to the five tips to get you there, let me just say that these aren’t the only tips you should be aware of as you conduct your marketing. These are the five you should focus on first, in my opinion. There are prob ably more than 20 others you could focus on, but start with these five.

I love Google and what it is doing for the visitors of your website. The message Google is making is pretty clear … you, the business owner, needs to worry about “content” and let us work on getting your business on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

1. Categories

This is how your business will be listed on the web. Google advises you use the categories you want, but to keep the list to as few as possible to avoid confusion. And your first Category is the most important, so spend some time making sure you describe your business with the set categories provided by Google.

In Google’s words, “Select categories that complete the statement: “This business IS a” rather than “this business HAS a .” The goal is to describe your business holistically rather than a list of all the services it offers, products it sells, or amenities it features.” Just a tip … don’t try and stuff your categories with keywords. It won’t work out.

2. NAP

Take a moment to read my last blog entry on the importance of your NAP.

The is the heart of local search … your name, address, and phone number. Make sure your address is in the city in which you are physically located. Don’t try and game the system, Google will find out.

How? Well, they do have a mapping program so your local business shows up on the map. Then there is that zip code … does it match your location? Oh, and the area code of your business phone? Does it match up with the other data? Here is a big hint — using a toll-free number is NOT a good idea. It defeats the whole idea of “local”.

3. Citations

Citations are simply a mention of your business on a website. They can ones you want and ones you really don’t want. Think of them as the phone books of the internet. Many times, “aggregators” buy and sell your listings and they get replicated all over the internet. Want to find out where your citations come from on the internet? Google your business name and the city you are located in and, “BAM” you’ll see them.

Many times you will see advertisers telling you that they will get you listed on hundreds of directories. There are really only ten you have to have, along with your three local business directories. Although quantity is good, quality is better here. Fifty or so relevant directory listings (citations) is the best strategy to start off. They don’t all count the same in the eyes of search enginges. For example, a listing of a flower shop  on a wedding planner site would be good. On a car dealer site, probably not so good.

 4. Verified Pages

Verifying your main local business directories is something you should do. What are we verifying? Your business listing on Google+, Bing, and Yahoo!. Having your local pages set-up correctly on the local versions of these pages is important.

This lets searchers know you are in business and take your business seriously. See those search results next to the map above? When you click on the link for the Google+ page,  a check-mark with show up indicating the owner has verified the business.

5. Reviews

If you notice on the above map, you will see the Google Reviews listed. Certainly there are other review sites out there (Yelp, for instance) but Google Reviews are tightly integrated into a business’ search results. Focus on getting Google Reviews first.

Keep in mind that to get a star rating with Google, you will need to have five Google Reviews posted to your Google+ page. Buyers trust reviews almost as much as a personal recommendation, so don’t leave this to chance. Have a plan to get feedback and reviews for your business.

A final note on the importance of reviews — your brand is what you tell the world and potential customers about your business. Your reviews are what customers tell the world about your business.

Here are Google’s Guidelines for representing your business on Google.

There you have it — five things you can do to help raise your rankings in local search. Call us and find out how we can help you with this process at (412) 409-3489 today!