From Google to Your Storefront
Local search engines are powerful tools for directing customers to your brick-and-mortar store, but they’re only as helpful as the information they contain. As with much in the world of search engine optimization (SEO), the factors that generate search results seem complex and impenetrable—but for local listings, those that matter can easily be broken down into achievable goals. Here are some local search best practices for your business.
Laying the Foundation
Two basic steps will ensure that Google and other search engines can serve up your information to searchers. Both can be easy to overlook, however, so take a moment to verify that you’re leading customers down the right path.
First, it’s vitally important to have a consistent business name across all search engines, listings, and hard copy materials, such as business cards and the Yellow Pages. This not only creates a cohesive business presence, making it easier for people to remember, but also tells search engines that you are a single entity.
Second, keep your contact information readily available, either by listing it on your home page or on a clearly labeled page of its own. Again, this helps customers to get in touch and helps search engines index the information for results.
When creating a local search engine listing, or when editing a preexisting one, there is usually an option to place your business in one or more categories. This is actually a more important step than it may appear: search engines rely on these categories to determine what businesses will be listed for which searches. Skipping categories, or placing yourself in a less than optimally accurate slot, reduces your chances of being found.
Links and References
Another way search engines collect and filter information to display to searchers is by investigating the network surrounding local businesses. This means that links directing people to your website, or mentions of your site on other sites, are heavily taken into account; the more links and connections you have, the higher you will rank in search results.
Communicate with other local businesses, link to each other, and get listed on your city’s Chamber of Commerce website. Another good idea is to invest time in Google+ for your business.
Seek Out Rave Reviews
Reviews, and the accompanying ratings, photos, videos, and other feedback, don’t technically impact search engine optimization in a measurable way, but potential patrons find them persuasive when making a decision. Most people are more likely to trust the word of a stranger than no word at all, so it’s a smart strategy to request reviews from good customers. You should also engage with anyone who leaves a negative comment, in order to rectify the situation.
Search engine optimization is a highly complex field, but these highlights are excellent initial steps for local businesses. By ensuring that search engines provide the right information and registering your business as a prime example of your industry category, you’ll drive customers right to your doors.
Check out our complete guide to local marketing for more local marketing strategies.
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources.
ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.