Search engine optimization (SEO), specifically local SEO, is a critical part of your small business marketing strategy. Here’s a statistic from Google that shows why: 60% of local searches that take place on Google lead to sales. That’s pretty powerful! It makes sense, though, because most of the time people performing local searches need to get somewhere or are looking to get something. The number of actual local searches that take place on Google is something that is debated, but in 2010 Google said that location-related searches make up over 20% of all desktop searches, and 40% of mobile searches.
While it’s easy to see how important local SEO is for small businesses, lately we’ve seen the search engine result pages that Google returns for Local Intent searches get more and more complex. Though complex, they are good changes for local small businesses. For example, a searcher located in Huntington Beach, California, who searches for “lawyer” will see many local results that she previously wouldn’t have seen without explicitly including “Huntington Beach, California” in her query. In regards to local directories, Google Places is now called Google+ Local, and is absolutely the most critical directory to be listed in. We’ll talk more about local online directories in our tips below, as you’ll need to also build profiles on other sites to build citations for local SEO. The more consistent your listings are on all of your local search directories, the better your local rankings will be.
So now let’s move on to the top 5 factors that affect your ranking in local SEO rankings:
1. Physical Address in the City of Search: You can’t really do much to affect the #1 factor; it makes sense that local searches return local addresses. Although technically it’s possible to rank outside the city where your physical address is located, it’s not easy, and nearly impossible to do in highly competitive industries.
2. Proper Category Associations: Picking the right 5 categories in Google+ Local is critical, as setting the wrong category can severely hurt your rankings.
3. Proximity of Address to Centroid: This is another factor that you can’t really affect. Basically you have a better chance at ranking if you’re physically located near the center of the area your business is located in. With the increase in searches from mobile devices, the location of your Physical Address in relation to the location the user is searching from makes a huge difference.
4. Domain Authority of Website: Websites that have been around awhile are well optimized and authoritative rank higher. Google is now looking more at the website than they used to – -it’s actually a very important factor now. Make sure your website information exactly matches the information in your local online directories, in the form of your business name, address, and phone number. It’s more important than ever that Google be able to associate your +Local page with your website.
5. Quantity of Structured Citations: Citations are business listings in other local online directories. The additional directories that you need to make sure your small business is listed in are: Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Yelp, Merchant Circle, Superpages and Yellow Pages. The more listings you have, the better, so if you have the resources to list your small business in additional directories, you can find the most authoritative directories to start with in The Top 50 Citation Sources for Local Businesses.
There is obviously much more to local SEO, but if you want to get started with the most important items, this is a good list to start with. If you have questions or need help with your SEO, please feel free to give us a call at 877.609.3840 and we will be happy to help you!