5 Local SEO Shortcuts to Ranking Your Local Website in Record Time

What’s the best marketing technique for your local business?

Answer:  Local SEO.

The majority of your potential customers are searching for your business online, and most of them are using mobile devices. Your only chance to reach them is by getting your local business website to rank high in the search engines.

And how is that supposed to happen?

Through dominance. You must master your local SEO, which used to be a tough beast to tame. What made it tough to tame was the fact that the “rules” of local SEO were in flux.

Today, however, you’re at an advantage. The techniques for ranking your local business website are relatively simple to implement.

Here are 5 shortcuts that will give you a powerful advantage.

1. Use your city name/neighborhood on every page of your website.

The most important component of local SEO is your website. Your website must include the name of your city or neighborhood.

There are a few reasons why this is important.

First, it’s critical for search engines to know what city you’re in. Second, website visitors need to know that your website is relevant to them.

If your business is located in a large urban area, you should also include the name of the area or neighborhood where you are located. A “Bakery in New York City” is rather vague, whereas a “French pastry café in Lenox Hill, Manhattan” is specific.

If you have a robust content marketing strategy, you can maintain a steady stream of local information in your blog articles and updates — the local softball team’s victory, the fire station’s fundraiser, etc. Regularily referring to your city, its neighborhoods, and its current events can improve your local SEO.

Here are a few bonus tips for extra SEO power:

  • Mention your location in your title tag. For example:  “Bob’s Crossfit, Los Angeles, CA”
  • Mention your location in your H1: “Top-rated L.A. Fitness Club”
  • Mention your location in your content.

2. Place your NAP in the footer of your website or on every page.

NAP stands for “Name, Address, and Phone Number.” This bit of information is the key to local ranking.

I recommend that local businesses place this information prominently on every page. Obviously, you don’t want to be accused of keyword stuffing. You do want to drive long tail traffic to your website, which includes local long tail queries.

3. List your business on local websites and directories.

As soon as your website is optimized, it’s time to get busy with directories.

Directory listings are to local SEO what backlinks are to traditional SEO. All things being equal, the local business with the most directory listings will rank higher and faster.

Local websites and directories vary from area to area, but the following directories are available everywhere:

  • Google+
  • Bing
  • Yahoo
  • Yelp
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • CitySearch
  • MerchantCircle
  • Manta
  • Yellow Pages
  • White Pages
  • Local.com
  • Foursquare
  • DexKnows

Get your business listed on as many high-quality directories as you can, but take heed:  Many of these directories want to charge hefty fees for the apparent privilege of adding a little extra exposure, tracking your metrics, or enhancing your listing.

In most cases, you don’t need the extra lift. A standard free listing is enough to signal to the search engines that you’re a viable business with a recognized presence in your local area.

That being said, you should fill out as much information as possible on these online directories. If you have the option to add the name of the business owner, photos of your locations, and a description of your services, by all means add this information.

4. Make sure that your NAP is consistent.

Google and other search engines use your NAP as the business’s unique identifier. For this reason, your NAP must be consistent across all websites and social media sites.

For example, it’s possible that your business may have changed locations at some point in the past. If you moved from 123 Main Street to 456 Elm Street, you will need to make sure that you’ve updated this information on your Facebook page, Google page, Yelp, Foursquare, and any other online directories.

5. Get reviews.

The better your reviews, the better your business will do.

Although the exact impact of reviews is unknown, we can be fairly certain that a greater quantity of user reviews on a site like Yelp can enhance a website’s ranking.

The biggest upside of reviews is that it attracts potential customers. Let’s say you were in the mood for sushi, so you compare two local sushi restaurants.

One has 500 five-star reviews, and one has 18 one-star reviews. You would probably opt for better reviewed restaurant, right?

Now getting reviews is easier said than done. It is often considered poor form to ask for reviews outright. It’s even worse to pay for reviews.

But there are ways to get reviews. The most effective way to get stellar reviews is to earn them through bend-over-backwards customer service and over-the-top customer care.

You can try other methods, too:

  • Place a reminder about online reviews near the checkout or exit doors.
  • Post URLs or QR codes in these locations as well.
  • Encourage your staff to mention the value of online reviews.
  • Incentivize those who leave a review by offering coupons, giveaways, or other perks.
  • Include links to your directory profiles such as Google+ or Yelp where you are eager to earn reviews.

Conclusion

It’s so important for businesses to understand local SEO and to do what it takes to rank.

Google is getting much better at returning relevant local results, but it’s still up to local businesses to take the right action.

With this solid understanding of what it takes to rank, you should see greater results, greater revenue, and superior business success.

What techniques do you rely on to help your local business rank?

Jessica Corry

Jessica is a marketing consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship.

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