Making Local SEO Work For Your Small Business

There are nearly 30 million small businesses in the United States, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. More than 60 percent of small business customers use the Internet to search for local companies, with more than 80 percent using search engines to find a business in their area. This is a perfect storm situation for search engine optimization on a local level. SEO, the use of carefully selected words and phrases within web content to boost search engine ranking, can be an effective way to direct traffic to your website. Here are some ways to make local SEO work for your small business:

Claim Your Profile

Claiming your profile is just a process where you officially verify that your business profile is really yours. You simply log in to Google Places, Yahoo Local, or Bing Local and go through the verification process. You’ll either have to make a quick phone call or send in something to verify your business address. You can still earn a respectable ranking in search engines even if you skip this step.

All About Content

SEO, in general, is all about content. This doesn’t just include text, but anything that involves your business website. Upload pictures of your business. They don’t have to be professional, but should represent your business in a positive way. Business photos usually include exterior shots and possibly products being manufactured and maybe a group shot of your employees. Content also includes captions for your photos and even video clips. If you’re not that good at crafting content that includes keywords naturally sprinkled throughout your website, consider hiring a pro to do the writing. It’s an investment that can payoff big time if you get a boost in business. Blogging is an ideal way to get your content out there. Joining a community of bloggers can give you a huge boost because of the training and discussion with all the successful leaders in the group ( you even get a blog fully set up ready for you to publish your content).

Control Information

Successful SEO includes obtaining information from other websites. Search engines use a local listing aggregation that searches for reviews, pictures, images, and other information related to your company. You can control this information to some extent by submitting your own company info to services such as Info USA and Localize. It’s important to double check the info that’s out there about your business. If you find something that’s incorrect, trace it back to the source and ask them to correct the information that’s wrong. Potential customers have no way of knowing what’s right and what’s not.

Encourage Reviews

Most major local sites, except for Yelp, allow you to ask your customers to review your business. You can further encourage reviews by adding a blurb to your contact page, order forms, invoices, or emails asking customers to post a review to Google Places, Yahoo Local, or Bing Local. Customers tend to look for reviews when deciding whether or not to use your business. While you don’t want to encourage bad reviews, don’t stress out if you get a few. It just shows that you are willing to learn from your mistakes.

Detailed Contact Info

Make sure you have detailed contact information on your website. This should include complete address, city and state, zip code, and phone number. While 800 numbers can be convenient, they don’t help identify you locally. If you want to include a toll-free number, include your regular business number as well. Many search engines will use your phone number as a way to identify your location. Your physical mailing address should be on all pages of your site. This further re-enforces your location.

These are just some of the things you can do to make the most of local SEO to direct traffic to your business website. Think like your customers do when choosing which words and phrases to emphasize. What would you type in the search box if you were looking for your business? You can’t control everything about how your business appears in local searches, but you can at least do your best to optimize your ranking.

Taking thing a step further – actually local marketing is starting to become more and more mobile orientated. If you would like to learn more about this new trend in marketing watch this webinar.

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