What is local SEO?
Local SEO is simply search engine optimization for a local business or organization. For example, if you own an electronics store with just one shop, it helps greatly to let Google know that. If you take the appropriate steps to develop your website for local SEO, and you also setup your company information correctly in Google, you will become more visible online to people who are close to your business. The general idea is that you don’t need to draw in visitors from far away if you can’t service them anyway. Think of it as a local city directory instead of an international one.
One of the great benefits of optimizing your website and Google account for local SEO is for mobile traffic. Often when people are on the road they will search for businesses on their smart phones. If they’re searching for a local electronics store, you want your shop to show up in the results so that they can find you. It’s convenient for your customers too, as once they see your shop listed in the local search results, they can click on it to call you, email you, visit your website, and even get GPS directions right to your front door!
As a side note, your website should also be able to be viewed on mobile devices such as phones and tablets. If someone is on the road and they’re searching for your store, they may want to quickly view your website. If it’s not easily viewable on their small screen and they have trouble reading the text, they will get frustrated and possibly go to you competitor. If your website isn’t already mobile friendly, it’s high time you get that taken care of!
How do I make my website local SEO friendly?
Google has an automated program which browses through the entire internet and collects as much information about all the different websites it can. This program is called a Google bot. It usually starts out by visiting your home page and analyzing all the information that it finds on that page. It then systematically goes through all the links on your website and analyzes all the content on all the pages that it finds. It uses the content on the individual pages of you website to figure out what your website is about, and what each page is about.
One of the most important pages that it will look for is your contact page, which should have as much information regarding your business as possible. This includes your business name, street address, phone number, email address, opening hours, a map and more. Depending on how that information is coded into your website, Google may be able to extract it and index it properly for local SEO. For best results though, you will need to also specifically tell Google what all your contact information is. You do that by opening a free account with Google and entering it all into their database directly.
How do I provide Google with my business information?
Get your business listed on Google for local SEO.
This is done by creating a Google+ (Google Plus) business page. You start out by creating an account with Google and then setting up a personal Google+ page. Once that has been established you can create a separate business page. On your Google+ business page you fill out all the fields so that Google can know all the details for your local business, which will help your local SEO. The final step is for Google to confirm that the information you entered for the street address is correct. To get this confirmation, which they refer to as a verification process, you need to request that they send you a postcard via regular mail. It takes a few weeks, but when you receive Google’s postcard in the mail, it will have a verification code on it. You then log back into your Google+ business page and enter that verification number. This provides Google with proof that your business does actually reside at the street address you provided. At that point you’re verified.
As you can see, there are quite a few steps that need to be completed to get your local SEO in order. It can also take awhile to get the final verification process completed as well. If all of this sounds overwhelming, it may be easier to get some outside help. Most website developers will be able to help you through the process. If everything is done correctly, your website will be well ranked in the search results for people searching for you locally.
Local Directory Listings
Here’s a bonus tip, which is a different kind of local SEO! Most likely there are a number of websites in your area that provide local business listings for your city. They may be run by the city itself, the local chamber of commerce, business groups or private individuals. Search for all the local business directory websites in your city and let them know you exist! Most of them will have an online form to fill out. You can enter all your business contact information so that it can be added to that business directory. Usually you will also be able to upload your company logo, write a brief paragraph about your company and maybe even provide pictures of your business and its products.
You will get more exposure by having your company listed on all these local business directories. It’s not local SEO, but it does help the local population know you exist. A very important side benefit is that Google also indexes these directory sites. Overall you get a higher search engine ranking when a lot of other websites link to your website. From Google’s perspective, the larger and more popular that site is, the more favorable those links to your website are as well. Submitting your website to local online business directories should be considered part of your overall local SEO efforts.
Keep your information updated!
If any of your business information changes, you will need to remember to update your Google business listing, as well as all the smaller local search directories. That’s the case if your phone number changes, you move your business to a new street address, you change your opening hours, or anything else. Therefore it’s a good idea to keep a list of all the directories that you submitted your website to.