These five tried-and-true fundamentals of local search engine optimization can help your local business website rank higher, and ultimately increase traffic and sales.
1. Add or Claim Your Local Listing
First, you will want to add or claim your local business listing in the major search engines: Google Maps, Yahoo! Local, and Bing Local.
Many other sites will automatically find and list information about your business. Usually, this means that your website is left unclaimed, hanging out there in directory limbo.
Don't let this happen to your business. You will miss-out on free exposure, extra traffic, and good incoming links that could only help with your Search Engine Optimization efforts.
As well, these local business listings, or profiles, can help to build trust with the major search engines. If your local business is legitimate, Google and the other major search engines want to rank your site well. They just need reason to trust that it is relevant and useful to their users, and this could be one of the most important ways to earn that trust.
Finally, this prevents someone else from claiming your listing, and allows you to correct any errors or add missing information. Make certain that you add your business in the correct categories.
2. Submit Your Business Information to the Major Data Providers
These companies include, ExpressUpdateUSA.com, Acxiom and Localeze, and they collect the data that is the foundation of local search engine results. Make sure your business information is listed, accurately and consistently over these data providers.
NOTE: Always be sure to add your business in the right categories.
3. Use Geographic-Specific Keywords in Your Title Tags, Heading Tags, and in the Content on Your Website.
Make certain your website is found when local searchers add a geographic modifier (city, town, county, zip code, neighborhood, etc.) to your important keyword phrases. If you are a plumber, for example, use phrases like "plumber ventura" or "plumber ventura county" so that you will rank higher for these types of searches.
When you have control over the link text used to link to your website from another website, be sure to use these types of geo-targeted keyword phrases.
4. Make Sure Your Local Business Information is Accurate and Consistent
This is crucial. This is about trust. Make sure that your business information is both accurate and consistent wherever it is made available on the Internet. Use the exact same business name, address, and phone number whenever possible.
In the local Internet marketing business we call this a citation. A citation consists of your company Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP). Notice that I typed number and not numbers. Use only one phone number as you create your business profiles around the Internet (I advise against the use of multiple tracking numbers unless you know what you're doing.). Google needs to see a consistent NAP, using the same phone number.
Bottom line: Build citations, and build them everywhere, accurately, consistently, and with robust profiles (lots of text, photos, videos, etc.).
5. Don't Reinvent the Wheel
It is likely that your high-ranking competitors have paid their SEO / Internet marketing dues and are ranking well for good reason. Study closely what they are doing to achieve their position, both on their website, and off (inbound links).
NOTE: Do not copy content directly from another website. Create lots of original and engaging content for the pages that you want to rank high in search engines.
Local search engine optimization is both an art and a science. Creating content that appeals to and motivates your visitors is the top priority. But using this great content to create a website that the major search engines deem a trustworthy and important source of information or commerce is golden.
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