A lot of SEOs are focusing their efforts on traditional SEO techniques. However, there is one area of SEO that is extremely beneficial to businesses that have physical locations and are dependent on walk-in customers. These can be brick and mortar stores, hairdressers, beauty salons, gyms, dentists, you name it.
If you’re a business owner of one of these types of businesses then you’re only interested in people searching for your services in your city – sometimes even only in your neighborhood.
Let’s assume I own a barber shop in Shepherd’s Bush, London – do I care that I’m ranking for my set of keywords globally (although that’s highly unlikely, but we’ll leave it be)? Of course I don’t. I don’t give a rat’s ass that people in Mumbai can find my website or a mention of my shop somewhere online.
Because those people are not translating into paying customers!
Local SEO is a process through which we can optimize our business (our online mentions, citations, and things like that) so that we appear in top results when someone searches for our services locally.
These searches can be anything in the lines of:
- Barber shop in Shepherd’s Bush
- Best barber shop in London
- Barber shops near me
Once you start dominating this area of SEO you’re going to start seeing a lot more business coming your way. These customers might look like accidental finds and fluke drop-ins but it’s going to be Google who’s delivering them to you.
Difference Between Organic Results and Snack Pack Results
Organic results are showing the most relevant information from the web based on keywords that we’re entered in the search. On the other hand, the Snack Pack results (a set of three top results) are businesses related to the said search that are close to your location or the location they are searching for and have signed up with Google My Business.
Of course, in order to appear multiple times in the search engines for any given term you want to nail both organic search and the Snack Pack results but right now we’re going to stick to optimizing for local.
Getting Started – Register for Google My Business
If you didn’t register your business with Google, it’s time to do so right now. Don’t worry – the entire process takes a couple of minutes and it’s easy.
- Visit Google.com/business, click ‘Get on Google’, and create an account
- Click ‘Add My Business’
- Make sure to fill in all the necessary information accurately – your name, address, phone number, and category – this is a very important step so be careful
- Proceed and Google will send you a postcard with your PIN verification number – it takes a few days for it to arrive but when it does simply follow the instructions and your listing will go live.
While you’re waiting for the PIN to arrive, use that time to really make your Google My Business profile shine:
- Add images to your listing
- Use your keywords in the description box – be careful not to overstuff them
- Put in your working hours
Google Knows About You – It’s Time for Everyone Else
Now that Google knows that you own and operate a business somewhere it’s time to build up some signals that will help Google show your listing at the top. There are 4 strategies that you should consider using that will significantly improve your relevancy.
Citations are nothing more than mentions of your business online. Well, they might be only mentions but they are extremely important. Think of citations as a validation that signals to Google that you’re running a legitimate business that is recognized by others.
You want to get citations from local industry directories (these are most valuable, yellow pages, yelp – pretty much anywhere where you can register your business. Keep in mind that the name of your business should appear everywhere the same as it appears on Google My Business and your website. The same goes for your address and phone number.
It’s incredible how many websites for brick and mortar businesses fail to properly list their address on the page. How else is Google going to have a clue? Make sure that your website (and pages on it) mention your location, address, and phone number several times – don’t overdo it.
Generally, aim to have that information included in:
- Title Tag
- H1 Tag
Use Schema Markup
Schema allows crawlers to read and understand the context of your website. Without it, everything is a jumbled mess and the algorithm can’t make heads or tails of it. With it, you can clearly mark parts of your site and let Google know where your address can be found, as well, as your open hours and your phone number.
Social Signal and Reviews
Ranking for the Snack Pack also depends on some social signals and reviews that your business is getting. As for reviews, it makes sense that they are going to impact your ranking and they will do it two-fold: specific positioning and engagement. If your business has good reviews then it stands to reason that people will read them and base their positive decisions regarding your business on them.
As far as social signals go, I like to think that they always add credibility to a brand – it’s always useful to have them.
There are several things you can do to make sure your social profiles are contributing to your local SEO:
- Be active and engage with your users
- Link to your website and from it back to your social media sites
- Mention your address and your phone number (as it appears on your page)
To learn more about what you can do to improve your local SEO make sure to check out this comprehensive guide by Marcus Miller of Search Engine Land. In the meantime, let me know if you are relying on local SEO to drive business to your location and how is that working out for you – drop down to the comments section for a chat!