How to Optimize for Local SEO (6 Quick Fixes)

Before we jump into the search engine optimization waters, there’s something that should be clear: there are two types of search engine optimization: There’s Organic Search and Local Search.

Organic Search is all about how people find your site in the search engine rankings.

Local Search is all about getting your business to rank better in the Google Places listings.

It’s an important distinction if you’re a local business because many small businesses get caught up trying to rank for big keywords and overshoot the moon.

Let’s face it – as a startup, you can’t compete with the big dogs that are throwing gobs of cash to optimize their online presence.

So how do you compete? You target a smaller pond.

Optimize your local SEO

Here are 6 quick local SEO fixes that will put you on the fast track to local SEO success:

Local search is all about how to rank better on Google Places. Aside from organizing your site well, there are really five main things you can do to optimize your site locally:

1.) Get a Google Business Page

2.) Put your business’s name, address, and phone number in the footer of your site

*Use microdata markup for that info

3.) Submit your business to local directories like the ones I’ve listed below

* Get Reviews on those sites

4.) Add testimonials to your site and use schema.org microdata markup

5.) Add images to the profiles you make on those directories and to your site

*Geo-tag your images *Add service & location ALT text to those images

6.) Get links.

It’s really that simple. And while the first five items are relatively easy to implement, the sixth takes a bit of effort to get moving. Link building is a process that can be simplified but just takes time. It’s something I’ll write about in a future post, but for now, let’s take a look at getting your site listed in the main local directories.

1.) Get Listed Locally

When you search for a business, oftentimes you’ll see a listing of the closest places in your region. Typically, Google will give you the top three or four results, then a listing of business places.

Something like this:

To get your business listed in these Google “Places” listings, you’ve got to have a Google Business Page.

*IMPORTANT: The categories that you select in Google Business are very important for how you appear in the listing results. Choose them wisely.*

Once you’ve set up your Google Business page, you’ve got to verify your business’s location with Google (typically they’ll mail you a postcard at your business’s location). After that, how you rank is in these Google Places listings is determined by a number of factors, which we’ll take a look at now.

2.) Put Your Business’s Name, Address, and Phone on Every Page of Your Site

First and foremost, you have to be sure that your Name, Address, and Phone are placed on every page of your site that you want to be associated with your business location.

The footer of your site (at the bottom) is typically a good place to do this.

You also want to be sure that your business information is placed correctly with the Google Business page you just made. What you’re doing here is listing your location information on your site so that the search engine bots can associate your Google Business page with your site. Google’s bots are smart, but they’re essentially just counting 0s and 1s. Different numbers and listings appear different to them, and you’ll need them to be as accurate as possible to help boost your rankings.

Bonus Points

Additionally, you can use a bit of html code that will further help the search engines. The Search Engine Journal did a great write-up on its implementation here. You can use these markups to add reviews to your site as well.

This microdata markup is a bit complex for newbie web designers. Google knows this, and so made a structured data highlighter tool in Google Webmaster Tools to help you out. It’s really just highlight and select – that simple.

3.) Get Citations

Which means, essentially, try to disseminate your business’s Name, Address, and Phone number (what’s called the “citation”) to other sites that the Google bots can crawl. Having your business’s “citation” listed on other sites (like local directories) exactly as they’re listed on your site helps Google link those addresses to your site.

This is why you should avoid using inconsistent abbreviations (St. for Street; Apt. for Apartment, 800 for 1-800, etc). Additionally, you’re going to want to add pertinent markup to your Title Tags, Meta-description, and website content. Don’t stuff keywords in there, but if you’re a business based in say, Ojai, California, you can usually find a way to insert the info organically.

As for local directory submission, here’s a list of the most commonly used directories to which you can add your information:

Yellowbook.com
Citysearch.com
 Google
Yahoo (Verizon) Small Business
yelp
MerchantCircle
LinkedIn
YellowPages.com
Whitepages
Mapquest
Local.com
Foursquare
CitySlick
SuperPages
BizJournals.com
Discover our Town
EZ Local
Zipweb
Data Axle
Infignos
My Huckleberry
GenieKnows
Brownbook
CitySquares
Judy’s Book
City-Data
PropertyShark
CityGrid

Additionally, here is a  Spreadsheet example that will assist you in keeping your login info and notes organized:

Alternatively, you can use a service like YextMoz Local, or to do a power-listing for you, and though this is something of a pricey option, you can assure that your Name, Address, and Phone are listed correctly across a wide variety of local directories.

You can also use a site like Upwork to hire someone overseas to fill out your various information, but ultimately, take it from someone who has done this personally and who knows – it’s best to do it yourself. It’s unfortunate and time-consuming, but really the only way to ensure accuracy is to either hire a service with access to all of your information or to do it yourself. Sites like Synup.com know this, and so offer an affordable hands-on solution that covers 175 sites.

When creating these listings, be aware that some listings like Yelp require a phone call to verify business ownership, so whoever is doing your listing should be by your business’s phone line.

Ok! I hope this helps.

Do you have any other tips for me? Share them in the comments!

–Hudson Hornick
Alchemy On Demand

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