- Posted by wainscot
- On December 11, 2015
Google is the new Yellow Pages.
Your local business needs to show up prominently in Google for the keywords your customers use. But gaining those top spots in local search is competitive.
This post discusses 7 steps that will move your business to the top of local search results so you can take full advantage of the way today’s consumers shop for goods and services.
One of my favorite graphs is shown below. It is a summary of research conducted by Moz on the factors that cause businesses to rank for local search. I’ll step through each “slice of the pie” below to describe the 7 steps that a local business needs to take to master local SEO.
1. Google My Business
The most important factor in showing up well in a local Google search is having a great Google directory listing. By “great” I mean complete and consistent with your other business listings on the Internet (specifically have the same name, address and phone number as other listings.) Complete means having a selection of quality photos in your listing, a well written description of your business and having plenty of positive reviews of your business visible.
2. Fix online directories
After completing your Google My Business listing you have hundreds of other directories you can be listed in. Some directories carry more weight than others. Some of the most important are Bing Local, Yahoo Local, Yelp and Superpages.
You can get a sense of your listing situation on 15 of the most important directories using Moz’s Local SEO tool here. The tool will point out gaps in your listings and where your listings have problems like missing data or inconsistent information across the Internet.
Moz’s tool shows only the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to directories. So there are many more directories you should fix but this is a good starting point.
You are almost certainly listed in many directories even if you don’t know about them. There is a lot of data sharing on the Internet so local business listings show up in dozens of places even if you’ve never been in touch with those websites. The result is your business could be inconsistently listed in many directories even if you’ve never heard of them. These inconsistent listings damage your search ranking. You need to complete an audit of everywhere you are listed and fix any problems.
3. Add keywords to your website
This is the part of SEO most people are more familiar with. You need to put your keywords on your website pages. Of course to do this you need to know what your keywords are. To identify your best keywords you need to complete some research.
You should include your business name, address and phone number on your website and you should make sure these details match the way you are listed in directories.
4. Secure inbound links
Google was founded on the principle that inbound links indicate authority. Google’s search engine still considers inbound links important so getting other sites to link to you is still a key move in local SEO.
The best ways to get inbound links are to create quality content that people will want to link to and to be friendly! You need to be friendly as link building is an inherently human endeavor. You will need to convince another human being to link to your site.
Reviews are becoming increasingly important to search results. Reviews are prominent in Google’s directory listings bringing them to the top of most local search results pages. Recent research conducted by BrightLocal found most consumers won’t go any further in considering a business if they see a 1- or 2-star rating on an online listing. Google’s search algorithm also seems to be taking into account what reviews it finds about your business in where it decides you should rank in search results.
6. Social media
Social media is an “up and coming” ranking factor. Google assesses the size of your following on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. It’s not clear what data Google is paying attention to here but your social following does play into search results. It’s not a huge ranking factor yet but it’s growing.
7. Be responsive
Google has stated that websites that are not mobile friendly will likely suffer some losses in ranking. How big an impact this will have on your rankings is still uncertain. It’s likely this penalty will increase in the next year so most local businesses need to upgrade their websites in 2016.
Although I’ve broken down local SEO into 7 steps each of these steps may have dozens of tasks within them. Reaching the top of search rankings for lucrative keywords can be very competitive. To get there may mean completing hundreds of tasks.
For most local business owners it’s not worth executing these tasks yourself—you are better off running your business. These are tasks you should consider outsourcing.