It’s no secret that the majority of people now use the Internet to find local businesses.
It’s always possible they’ll find you in Google Maps, Yelp or Superpages.com and call you from there but many users will go a step further and research your business by visiting your website.
Google and other search engines are also putting increasingly more value on your website in terms of how you rank for local searches.
It’s important that you site has the right site optimization factors for local search and that it’s conversion friendly to turn that website traffic into more business.
Site optimization for local search
There are many, many articles about how to optimize your site for SEO. The majority of them contain great tips and I recommend implementing as much of it as you can. However, these site optimization tips will focus solely on local search. If you are a local business, these site optimization tips should be implemented in addition to general SEO best practices.
In February 2012, Google made a significant change in local search called the Venice Update. In short, Google started displaying local content for search terms Google deemed had local intent but didn’t have a geo-modifier in the query. Overall, this is a big win for local businesses.
Prior to the Venice Update, if you searched for “divorce attorney”, you would see general information or directories with listings for divorce attorneys. After the Venice update, Google started using your IP address to show a mix of national and localized results. This means divorce attorneys in the same area as the searchers IP address now have a shot at ranking where they wouldn’t have in the past.
How can you take advantage of the Venice Update? It’s pretty simple but many business owners aren’t doing it. Create a lot of local content and send a lot of signals to search engines about your location.
- For multiple location businesses, create a unique page for each city you have locations and a unique page for each location.
- Make sure that content has the city, state and service keywords in the title tag, content and URL.
- Make sure your city, state and service keywords are in a portion of the anchor text of your backlinks.
Local Business Schema
Google, Yahoo and Bing all support the markup available on Schema.org. There is an overwhelming amount of information and options on that website so just focus on the local business schema for now. The schema is structured markup that all search engines recognize and understand. Putting the local business schema markup on your website around your business name, address and phone number will send a very clear signal to Google that the information listed on your website is for your local business.
Schema can really easy to implement. Once you have the schema code, place it in the footer of your site so it is on all pages if you have a single location. If you have multiple locations, use the schema for each location page.
Use Microdatagenerator.com to get your schema code quick and easy. Here is an example of what yours might look like:
Blended Local Results
In the past, Google didn’t do a very good job of tying your Google Places listing to your website. It was possible that your local business profile and your website would rank independently of each other. Google has changed that this year and now show blended results; meaning they blend your website and your Places listing into one result.
This also means that in order to rank well for many local search queries, you need to be optimizing both your website and your Places listing. Here are some of the common ranking factors for traditional SEO and local search that you need to consider to rank well.
Traditional SEO ranking factors:
- Domain Authority
- Site structure
- Keywords usage throughout your website
- Quantity and Quality of Backlinks
Local Search Ranking Factors
- Claiming and Optimizing your listing on Google
- Obtaining citations on other sites like Yelp, Superpages and other similar sites.
- Quantity and quality of reviews
Your website is the cornerstone of all your online marketing efforts from local SEO to PPC to social media. Invest some time in updating and improving your site both from a usability and SEO standpoint. The local search tips above are important for ranking well but your website is also your virtual storefront and should represent your business and brand appropriately.
About The Author
Bryan Phelps is the Director of SEO, Small Business for SEO.com. He oversees strategy and fulfillment for the SEO.com small business search engine optimization clients. To learn more about Bryan or SEO.com, please visit their site.