How do people find a local business these days? They don’t go looking through the Yellow Pages, that’s for sure. Today, people turn to the Internet to find local products, services, and establishments. Now that more and more people are browsing on mobile devices like smart phones and tablets, the information that they need is right at the tip of their fingers. If someone is in the mood for Chinese food and don’t already have a go-to Chinese restaurant they will simply type “Anytown Chinese food” into a search engine and then choose from one of the results. No matter what industry you are in, if you are operating on a local scale, you need to have a locally optimized website. If you don’t, you will be missing out on a wealth of new business opportunities. Here are 5 local SEO guidelines to follow:
Conduct National Keyword Research
The methodology behind how someone searches for your product or service is the same no matter where you are located. Don’t worry about the location when conducting keyword research. The location will be added later. National search volume is a good indicator of whether a keyword will be successful or not. If there are only a few searches for a particular keyword on a national level, that means that there will probably be none on a local level and it’s not a good keyword to target.
Keep It Simple
Typically, the website of a local business is relatively small. There is no need to try and “stuff” excess information into the content just for the search engines. That’s a spammy approach and will be a turn off for website visitors. For example, don’t create a new page of content to target every surrounding city or include a long list of zip codes in your area. It’s obvious that this is only for the search engines. Instead, focus only on the actual city in which you are located (or cities if you have more than one office location).
Activate Local Profiles
Google, Bing, and Yahoo! all allow businesses to fill out local profiles that will appear in the search results for specific related queries. Providing basic information is free. Make sure that these profiles are complete, accurate, and verified. While you can’t control the position of a search engine profile on the results page, it’s still important search engine results page real estate that shouldn’t be ignored.
Include Address and Phone Number
While it may seem obvious to include this information on a “Contact Us” or “About Us” page, this information should also be included on every other page, either in the header or the footer as crawlable text. Use a local phone number, not an 800 number. This information is important to have on every page because it confirms to the search engines where you are physically located.
Utilize PPC if Needed
Since you have limited space and content on a local business website, you can use PPC advertising in order to target additional long tail keywords or other areas. This provides an additional outlet to get your brand noticed in the search engines.