2 months ago, I was asked to write a guest blog post on the topic of local search by Ethan Bloch and Dan Martell of Flowtown, a small business consulting company based in San Francisco. I had initially met Dan Martell at Twestival Toronto and we got talking about the rising importance of Local SEO for small businesses. Shortly after our meet, Dan and Ethan were kind enough publish my article on Flowtown.com and I am re-posting my work to kick things off on my own blog.
More Online Searches Are Now Local
The importance of local search has increased dramatically since the launch of the local 10 pack in early 2008.
With local search statistics like:
- 35% of all online searches are local
- 61% of all local searches result in purchases
- 73% of online activity is related to local content
Deciding whether to optimize your small business for Local SEO should be a no-brainer.The following is a comprehensive guide on how to optimize your listing on Google’s Local Business Center:
1. Getting Started – Add a business location on Google by visiting the Google Local Business Center (GLBC).
2. Business Name – It’s not about who you are but what you do. The opportunity for any local small business to attract new customers lies in attracting people who are looking for what the business does rather than who they are. Before you could get away with having the type of your business present alongside your actual business name and location, but now Google has clarified the guidelines on business titles on map listings.
3. Telephone Number – Always provide a local telephone number. A local number oozes good customer service and an 800 oozes automated telephone systems and call center representatives.
4. Description – Having a brief description of your business and associated products or services is vital. Ensure that the main keywords for which you wish to be positioned for are included in this 200 character description and avoid copy/pasting in this field. Writing a unique and catchy business description will entice consumers to click through your listing.
5. Categories – Perhaps the most important section of your business listing. GLBC allows you up to 5 categories for your listing. The key to obtaining top rankings for your main keywords is to avoid using the auto suggest feature and actually list the main keywords + city in the fields.
6. Photos/Videos – Having business related photos such as your company logo or product shots can add value to your business profile. However, it is important to name your images such that they reflect the type of your business. Eg: Having your company logo image named as image001.jpeg will not add any context to the image. Instead name each relevant image in the format: city-keyword.jpeg.
Adding videos is another value-added feature to your business listing. Not only does it improve conversions, but it also helps your business rank better as it contributes to the completion of your profile.
7. Additional Information – GLBC allows you to add additional information such as your payment options, hours of operations etc. Following the same reasoning as mentioned above, the more complete your profile is, the better your local rankings will be.
8. Reviews – As local search is becoming increasingly social, user reviews are becoming extremely important in securing top rankings in the local 10 pack. A combination of having a complete business profile and enabling your business to be listed on various review based local search engines is the ideal mantra for optimizing your business for Local SEO. Some of the important U.S based local citations include Yelp, Superpages, InfoUSA but for a complete list, refer to David Mihm’s “The BCS of Local Search Engine Optimization” and Dev Basu’s “The Canadian Guide to Local SEO Citations”, for Canadian specific citation sources.