How to Optimize Local Business for Search
Whether you are a small retail store or a large business that offers services, if you have an office or a store, having your online presence optimized to drive local sales can help take you to the next level. Particularly with Google algorithm updates like Pigeon giving preference to businesses in the areas they operate in, it is important that you take the time to make sure that your local business is easily found by people searching not only for your business, but also for the local products or services that you offer.
Most businesses are aware that they need to do this, but don't know where they should start to make sure they're getting the most out of their offline business location online. Here just a few simple ways you can get started:
1) Make a locally verified Google+ Page
Many businesses are already on Google+ because they feel like it can add social media traffic to their website. What they don't know is that they can leverage their page to get better local search results for their business. Getting locally verified is a fairly simple process when done over the phone or through webmaster tools if it has been set up, and allows a business to add themselves to a user's Google Maps and tie their branded Google+ page to their listing.
Doing this makes it easier for users to find a business on Google searches on desktop and mobile devices. As an added bonus, if your branded page has images, contact info, or other information about your business, it will be added to Google's search results for your specific brand - adding legitimacy and trust that can help users feel more comfortable buying your business' products or services.
2) Get On Local Listing Sites
While submitting to a slew of local directories can be a dangerous game in terms of search engine optimization best practices, using well-respected business directories like Yelp, Glassdoor, or Zagat can help drive local traffic to your website in droves. Not only are their sites well optimized for your business so that there isn't as much work to do on your own website, having a listing will help your business look more legitimate when people search for it because of the rating information that these websites add to a search engine results page.
Ratings are a great addition for any business to have in their branded search results, and these services do a great job making sure they are included in their search results. Furthermore, users that are searching for your business will see your location information for your specific listing on these websites.
3) Include Your Location Information On Your Website
While this won't necessarily play as large a role in terms of SEO as some of the other recommendations on this list, it definitely is a great way to let your users know where your business is. Particularly if you're already done a good job of targeting paid and organic keywords that are related to your business' location, having users that are coming through from those terms then seeing your business' location can help them feel more confident converting with your business online or taking the time to go to your actual location to purchase, if applicable.
4) Include Location In Title Tags and Meta Descriptions for Relevant Pages
If you are a brick and mortar business with multiple local locations, or a service provider that has a number of different offices, it can be beneficial to include local keywords in pages that are talking about specific locations in order to help Google to understand that your business can be found in different places. If you have only one location it might make sense to have your homepage targeting location, but using another page to send clear signals to your location can certainly be similarly as effective.
As an example, our homepage actively targets "NYC" by including it right in the title tag and meta description. This results in Blue Fountain Media ranking much higher for a lot of the organic keywords we target in the local NYC area, because Google is actively aware of where we are located - in part because of our title tag optimization for local terms (in this case NYC). Furthermore, users who see our meta description when searching for the services we offer in the New York City area know straight away that we are nearby - making them more likely to request a quote from us rather than a business that is located further away.
5) Use Schema.org Markup On Your Website
Using Schema mark-up on your website can help to improve search results for your business while simultaneously giving your customers better results when they search for your business. Adding schema will help Google to show rich snippets in their search results - giving customers detailed information about your business including reviews, photos, and descriptions. Include local information in your website's schema by providing content like maps, local reviews and testimonials that you might have can help your business edge out competitors who are missing it from their websites.
Don't Ignore Local Optimization
For business' that aren't a brick and mortar store, it can be really easily to focus on optimizing your online business specifically for organic keywords or focusing on other marketing channels like SEM or social media. However, it should be remembered that a big part of user behavior when making purchases comes down to trust in a business.
While testimonials, reviews, and security certificates can play a huge role in building trust, knowing that a business is located locally can play as large a part in a purchasing decision. It is really no different than knowing a product was made domestically versus being imported from abroad - there is a level of trust in buying from someone who is near you - whether the purchase in question is a small product or a much larger service package.