As more and more consumers turn to the internet everyday to make purchasing decisions the importance of visibility in the major search engines has become extremely important for local businesses. Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO, helps your website increase its visibility on Google, Bing and Yahoo.
- Local Keywords in the Title Tag
Google uses the title tag to find out what your site is about, and uses it as the title and link for your website as seen above (the blue, underlined text). It is also what appears on the title bar of the user’s web browser. As you can see in our example above we used our main key-phrase “Website Designers” with our location (Saint Louis, Missouri). This makes it much easier for Google, as well as the searcher to understand what our website is about.
- Claim Your Local Business Listings
The two most important local directories to claim your business listing in are Google+ and Bing. These two show up on the search results for their respective search engines. You also want to claim your listings on the other major business directory sites including Yelp, Merchant Circle, Manta, Superpages.com and more. There a few services such as Yext which will allow you to submit to all of these important directories at once. If you hire an SEO specialist to promote your business they should be taking care of this for you.Google cross-references many of these business directories to validate the accuracy of your business listing. It is important to have your basic information – name, address, and phone (NAP) consistent among all of these listings.
- Make sure your location information is on every page of your website.
Your phone number and address should appear on every page of your website to help Google associate your business with your location so you are visible in the local search results. This information should be consistent with the NAP (name, address, phone number) information listed with the local business directories. If you have a home-based business you do not need to list your full address, but at least list the city and state your business is located in.
- Get Inbound Links to Your Website
Inbound links, also known as back links are basically vote of confidence to Google for your website. They show that your site is trusted and well respected on the web. Obtaining back links from respectable web sites shows your website is valued on the web.It is important to note that not all links to your website help with your SEO efforts. Many links, especially links on most business directory listing sites are “nofollow” links, meaning they do not pass the “vote of confidence” for your website, although some experts suggest they still have some SEO value, because they make your linking profile look more natural.Some back links can potentially be bad for your website. Links from spam sites (aka bad neighborhood websites) can make your site look like spam and potentially hurt your search engine ranking. Luckily, Google has released the Disavow Links Tool, to report these types of links and show that you are not associated with these links.Good sites to gain backlinks from include .edu and .gov sites, large and popular websites, and sites that are similar in topic to your own.
- Make your content local.
Instead of saying you are a “pet supplies store”, say you are a “Saint Louis pet supplies store.” This helps search engines understand that your site caters to your local area.
- Update often.
Search engines love fresh content. Updating your site often is a great way to increase your search engine rankings. A blog is an easy way to do this. By adding new content regularly, you will gain the benefit of getting a boost due to fresh content, and all that new, relevant content on your website will help you show up for keywords and key-phrases you haven’t even thought about before.
- Embrace social media.
Social media presence is becoming a more and more important factor in SEO. Having social share buttons on your website (such as share on Facebook, tweet this post, etc.) allow users to easily share your content. More shares, likes, and tweets make your content look more important to Google and other search engines.