Local SEO: a guide to making sure your local business can be found on Google

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SEO – the process of ensuring your website can be found in Google can be daunting and overwhelming. But don’t worry, if your site is relatively up to date, loads fast on mobile and contains lots of clear written information about your business including your address, then you are halfway there! The next step is to help Google find your website. Follow the simple steps below and you’ll be well on your way.

STEP ONE: Set up and optimise your Google ‘My Business’ Page

If you haven’t done so already – it is essential that you set up a Google My Business Page. Go here if you haven’t already and get set up, making sure you link to your website with the correct URL and include all of your correct business information. Once this is done, make sure you are getting the most out of your listing by following the three steps below.

Firstly – make sure there are no old or duplicate pages for your business, and delete those that are no longer in use. Here is a good tool for searching the site: http://www.michaelcottam.com/google-business-page-finder/

Secondly – make sure your business page is ‘verified’. When you are logged in there should be a check mark with the ‘verified’ stamp next to it. If this isn’t the case, you need to follow the instructions on how to verify – usually this involves receiving a postcard or phonecall from Google to verify your address and number.

Thirdly – list the correct categories for your business. This means honestly listing your business under every category that accurately describes what your business is. Don’t be spammy, be relevant and realistic. There is an exhaustive list here you can use to help you decide: https://moz.com/local/categories

STEP TWO: List your website in directories online

Your business address, postcode and telephone number needs to be 100% consistent across the web, and ALWAYS consistent with your ‘Google My Business’ page. Update or get yourself a listing in all of the below (free) sites. This creates a footprint that Google can index, and ensures Google’s algorithm knows the location of your business.

Remember – any time your business is listed online, be that in a job listing, directory or advertisement, the business name, postcode, telephone number and address needs to be consistent with your website.

STEP THREE: Get links to your website from local websites

Get as many local businesses and websites as possible to put a link to your website on their site.

  • Reach out to blogs in your local area and get them to write about or link to you.
  • Make sure any related businesses, clients or partners have links to your website on theirs.
  • Ideally the words they use in that link should be keywords you want to rank in Google for.
  • Contact local colleges and get into their online recommended lists
  • Search on Google for any mentions of your business – contact the websites and ask if they can turn the mention into a link.
  • Make sure any PR you generate results in a link back to your website

STEP FOUR: Set up social media profiles 

You don’t have to spend all your time in social media, but setting up a profile, that links to your site and has up to date information on all the major platforms will help.

  • Google Plus is important, because, well, it’s owned by Google. Make sure it links to your website and Google My Business page and contains up-to-date information: http://support.google.com/plus/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1713826
  • Having a Facebook page is beneficial as well.
  • Instagram is great if you have a visual or creative business
  • Linkedin may not be the exact fit for your business but it’s good to have an up-to-date listing.
  • Twitter/Pinterest are NOT necessary, but if they suit your niche and you have the time, go for it!

STEP FIVE: Get online reviews of your business

This a great help for your online reputation AND it directly affects your ranking in Google. Get (GENUINE) client reviews on a vast range of sites and  make sure they include your keywords, and have the correct address info.

  • Email all your clients and friends who have gmail accounts to review your business on Google Plus (authentic reviews only!). Send them a direct link to your review page. Eg: https://plus.google.com/105422445553763057971/about?hl=en&review=1
  • Send other clients to your other review sites for reviews – if you are a hospitality business then Trip Advisor is good, for types of businesses, see what is out there in your vertical.
  • If you have clients that use Yelp a lot – get them to review you there. Do not send people directly to Yelp – you’ll get black listed
  • Use your network of clients and friends to get lots of GENUINE reviews on any sites they use in this way.
  • DO NOT put up fake reviews – all of these sites have systems for sniffing these out, it’s not worth the risk. 3-4 genuine reviews from real people are worth 20 fake ones.

 

More resources on Local SEO:

https://thesiteedge.com/local-seo-guide/

https://moz.com/blog/category/local-seo