Ranking well in local search engine results doesn’t come easy. If you’re looking for an affordable way to bring in more customers, Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is worth paying attention to.
There are tons of factors that go into Local SEO — many of which take years to master — but taking the three basic steps below will help to increase your local search engine rankings.
Google My Business is THE most powerful tool you have as a business owner to manage your online presence in Google.
This is why it’s so important to have control of, and to make sure everything is optimized to attract customers and let Google know what you’re all about.
Let me back up for a second, though. What even is a Google My Business profile?…
A Google My Business profile is the business information you see pop up when you search for something local, or for a specific business. It shows up as a box to the right of your Google search engine results page and is also the business information that comes up on Google Maps (which we refer to as the Local SEO Pack).
See PostcardMania’s Google My Business profile in the screenshot below.
Claiming Your Google My Business Profile
Just because you have a business doesn’t mean you have a Google My Business profile.
If a Google My Business profile does exist for your business, it doesn’t mean you already own it. If you Google your name and see that a Google My Business profile exists, you have to claim ownership of it and verify that you do in fact own this business before you can make any edits.
I know, this is a lot of information but I promise it’s important, so bear with me!
First, you need to check if a Google My Business profile exists for your business.
You can find your profile by either Googling your company name and location and clicking on “ Own this business?” on the profile. Or, visit Google’s official business search page, sign in to your Google account, and type in the name and address of your business to see if it comes up.
If you can’t find a profile for your business, you can create one by following these steps.
Follow the prompts to enter your business information and choose how you want to verify your business. Google will send a verification code to you via a postcard to your business address, or offer to call or email your business (they don’t always offer to call or email).
Once your Google My Business profile is claimed and verified, you can start optimizing it!
Optimizing Your Google My Business Profile
Congratulations! You now have full control over your Google My Business profile.
But you’re not done just yet.
It’s important to add all of the information you possibly can, including:
- Relevant business category and subcategories
- Your full address, business name, and phone number
- Business hours (plus any special holiday hours)
- An engaging business description
- Eye-catching photos
- Google Posts about new offers, services, or business updates
- Services or products if applicable (not every business type is able to add these)
Also, remember to always respond to customer reviews, even if it’s just a quick thank you! This shows you’re a highly engaged business owner, which sends a positive signal to Google but is also something potential customers want to see.
To really take advantage of everything Google My Business has to offer, read this ultimate guide on how to optimize your Google My Business listing.
If you already have a website, great! If you don’t, now is the time to get one (guess what, we also offer affordable web design services!)
It’s not enough to just throw a website up and see what happens.
In order to rank well locally in search engine results, your website needs to be optimized for your specific area.
Let’s use a dentist’s website in Clearwater, Florida as an example.
Most dental websites have a services page that covers everything they offer. A main headline for this page will usually just say “Services”. For SEO purposes, a better headline would be something like “Dental Services in Clearwater, FL.” Throughout this web page, you should also add in location-specific information, such as the city or county name, throughout the text where it makes sense.
A few quick ways to localize your website:
- Make sure your address is in the footer of your website on every single page
- Clearly display your phone number on every page
- Include your location information in headlines throughout each page
- If you have multiple locations, create a page for each location and fill it with content specific to that area
- Create content about any local events, community partnerships, or charities you’re involved with
A backlink is a link to your website from a different website. Backlinks are important because Google crawls the internet by following links, and more links equal more authority and trust.
Think of links like votes to your website — ranking well is more than a popularity contest, but if there are multiple websites linking to you instead of your competitors, Google will trust your site just a little bit more.
In general, it’s important to have backlinks. But for local businesses, it’s important to build local backlinks so users in your area can easily find your business on any local review site or business directory.
Links from business directories are called citations, and they usually give you the ability to list your business’ name, address, phone number, website, and write a little description about yourself.
Make sure your business has profiles with up to date information on the following websites:
- Bing Places for Business
- The Better Business Bureau (you don’t have to be BBB accredited to have a free listing on their website!)
- Angie’s List
Feeling overwhelmed yet?
I know, it’s a LOT and these are just three of the first steps your business needs to take. Fully optimizing your business for SEO has so many additional factors and is an ongoing process.
While we can’t teach you everything you need to know about SEO with one blog post, we can give you a solid place to start.
Luckily, PostcardMania just launched an affordable Local SEO Service to help you with all of the items listed above and way more!
If you have any questions, feel free to contact one of our marketing experts or call us at 800-628-1804.
Or, you can always email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. We’ve made our Small Business Owners Growth Summit FREE and VIRTUAL! Register here completely free and join us LIVE September 21-25, 1-3pm EST.