Many small business owners believe they lack the technical skills or savviness to do their own online marketing.
But don’t shy away from Local SEO. There are simple improvements businesses can make to significantly improve local SEO or local search results.
This year commit to making these Local SEO improvements happen and drive more customers your way without having any technical or marketing knowledge.
Claim your Google Maps + Create a Google Plus Page
Everyone should have a Gmail account. A Gmail account serves an important business purpose as a gateway to manage all Google small business tools. Gmail and other Google small business tools are free to setup, so businesses should take advantage of this.
For Google Local (Maps) listings a business owner must verify an address along with populate information on the listing such as a logo, description and photos.
Search for the desired business on Google. Once the business is found, it can be “claimed” as your business. In most cases, a business will be mailed a postcard with a verifcation code. Once that code is received, log back into the Google Business account and confirm the business listing with the code.
Take it a step further to create a Google Plus page. Many times when a business is searched, Google will display this page with information, such as photos, services and reviews. It is a businesses job to build the profile up so it looks professional and provides all the information your customer could be looking for.
Add a company logo, manage photos, videos, post specials and more. Google Plus will also assign you a web address. A link back to the Google Plus account can be placed as a social media link onto the website at this point.
Now, when people search for your business in a specific geographical area, the chance of them finding yours is now much higher.
With a great business profile, your chances of being found are much greater!
The easiest local SEO tip on Facebook is to add your main location into your page title.
A great example is Willowdale Animal Hospital in Toronto. The company’s geographic location is assigned as part of their name. Right now Facebook allows this if it is clean and simple, so try and keep the business name and location to a minimum.
When potential clients search on Google for services in a specific region, this Facebook page will be added to search results and having your location in your name (and facebook address) increases your SEO ranking significantly.
On the Facebook Page Info is where this setting can be changed. There are also two description settings, a short and a long description in this section. Make sure that the geographic location in these descriptions along with your main service and a few keywords.
Warning, do not spam for locations by putting in multiple towns near your area. Focus on the main search that is relevant to your business, Google will figure out the rest.
Yelp is a powerful business directory that encompasses business profiles and customer reviews. It is very popular among specific kinds of local businesses such as restaurants, movers, plumbers and many other B2C businesses. Potential clients will visit Yelp for example if they are visiting a local area and need to find a business or service. For example, a business person visiting a new town could be looking for a copy store or somewhere to eat.
There is also the experienced “yelper” -those who will go to the Yelp site just to check out reviews before using a service.
It is free to have your business listing on Yelp and all businesses should take advantage of that. Yelp has gained a negative night howling reputation for bad restaurant reviews and some really hurting businesses that don’t focus as much on services as they should. But overall Yelp is a valuable tool to most business, so don’t be frightened away.
It can also allow you to collect customer feedback and improve your business overall. Create an account on Yelp, add your local info, logo, description and lots of great photos.
Thumbtack is an online lead service that connects businesses at the local level. Having a business on Thumbtack can help with local visibility even if you don’t purchase their online leads. Thumback dominates search engine results for local businesses and can give smaller companies and professionals some competition when it comes to first page Google results.
Thumbtack allows businesses to setup their listing with logo, examples of work and clients can submit testimonials. Users can also receive email inquiries for work and if the leads look interesting, pay a fee to submit a quote.
A common element of the local website listings above is that they all have review features. If customers have a positive experience many are happy to write about it.
For clients that know a business owner really well, it is likely not a problem to ask for a positive review of the product or service. Most loyal clients are happy to provide this.
Send an email to your customers and provide links to the preferred review sites. Craft it accordingly, be creative in letting them know how valuable a review is to a small business. An incentive to write a review, such as a return review or discount, a regular customer would be even more obliged to take advantage of that.
Many business owners shy away from asking for reviews, but it is common practice and again, should not be an inconvenience to the customer.
You never know if you don’t ask!
Once this is setup, analytics and Google page results will be viewable Google’s main business dashboard upon login.
Businesses can see where visitors are coming from along with analyse behavior once they get there. As businesses add more more marketing efforts watching growth on Analytics will prove to be a very valuable tool.