Five Steps to Improve Your Local Search

You know it’s important to optimize your website for search engines, but did you know you can optimize for local search – yourself? Yep! You can! Here are our top five tips. If your business specializes in a product or service that is only available locally, it definitely makes sense for you to try and rank as high as possible when someone searches your industry listings. Try these simple steps…

1. Register Your Business’ Google Places Listing

Do you have a Google Places listing? If you do, that’s a good start – but you still need to make sure that you’re the owner of it. To claim your listing, Google your company in Google maps. Once you’ve located your listing click on the blue hyper-link titled ‘Business Owner” on the right hand side.

Using an existing Gmail email address or one you have created for your business, claim your listing. If there is no listing for your business, cruise over to Google Places and get started. The more complete your account, the better. Add photos, videos, product information, services offered, industry information, hours of operation – everything you can. Once your Google Places account is complete and submitted to Google, you will receive a postcard in the mail with a unique pin, which you then enter into Google places to verify the listing. Sounds a little complicated, but Google makes it pretty simple.

2.  Ensure Your Website Content References Your Location

Make sure that your content describes that product or services you sell and the city in which you’re offering them! It seems extremely simple but it is often overlooked. An easy way to do this is in headings, “Gluten-free baking in Edmonton, Alberta.” And in content,” We bake gluten-free cakes, biscuits, cookies and bread. Centrally located on one of downtown Edmonton’s finest streets, we only use the freshest ingredients in an entirely gluten-free bakery. We specialize in delectable treats using potato and rice flour, all conveniently located in Alberta’s capital city.” You want to make sure to reference your product/service alongside your city so that when Google crawls your website it sees both. The trick to this is making sure that you don’t stuff your content with keywords or locations; your content has to make sense, or you could be penalized.

3.  Put Your Address & Phone Number in the Footer of your Website

Putting a verifiable address and phone number on your website increases your algorithmic integrity with the Google robots. Referencing your local address on each page really shows Google where your business is located and that you are in fact a real business.

4. Name, Address & Phone Number (NAP) Consistency

Ensure that your company’s name, address and phone number are displayed consistently across every single website, directory or link. If your name is Betty Lou’s Gluten-Free Bakery you will need to make sure that you always use the full name Betty Lou’s Gluten-Free Bakery every time you display your company’s name online. Any variations like Betty Lou’s Gluten-Free or betty lou’s bakery will only dilute your search results. The same is true for your address; commit to one way of displaying your mailing address and one way only. When it comes to your phone number, the natural inclination is to publish your 800 number in the most prominent place; however, if you post your local number first it identifies your business as relevant much more quickly.

5. Reviews

The golden unicorn of local search. Reviews act in a similar way that link building does. Legitimate reviews show Google that live people are using your services and buying your products. Even better, reviews are recommendations from people and not just affiliate links from websites. Encourage your customers to review your business on Google Places and other review sites such as Yelp and Hotfrog – and don’t forget about industry-specific review sites like Urbanspoon. Just like with Google Places, you will want to make sure that you owner-verify all your business listings so you can  respond to reviews, post photos and provide relevant news and updates to your existing and potential clients.

And there you have it – five relatively quick tips to help your business rank better locally! Let us know if these tips make a difference for your business!