5 Local SEO Tips for Small Businesses

All local businesses want more customers making it crucial to have an SEO strategy. Here are my top 10 local SEO tips for small businesses. Follow these tips and you can expect to get more exposure,  improve your ranking, drive more traffic and, attract more customers.   These tips assume that you’ve already got Google Analytics set up and your site speed is around 2 seconds. 

  1. Google My Business

Imagine you own a bike shop.  Your window display showcases a wide array of bikes.  You attract people walking or driving by your shop front. How can they resist? But Lisa works in a large office building a few blocks away and has never walked past your shop.  She’s just accepted an invitation for a weekend bike ride. It’s Thursday. Lisa does a Google search for  “bikes”  and up pops three of your competitors.  Their shop isn’t as close as yours and their selection is less varied.  Lisa will have to settle for less-than-satisfactory options and you’ve missed out on an easy sell.  You also miss out on the repair and maintenance work, which boosts that customer’s lifetime value. 

Why didn’t your business pop up in the map-pack? It’s because you either don’t have a Google My Business (GMB) listing or the information has outdated pictures and reviews.

How to fix:

Check if you already have a GMB listing.  Go to Google Maps and put in your business name.   If your listing appears, you are already ahead of the game.   Update your business description.  Make sure your web address and contact details are up-to-date and start uploading some new pictures. Aim for a few a week. Don’t just upload a whole bunch and then leave it.  If your business isn’t listed, then before the sun sets today go to Google My Business and sign up.  Fill out all the information as completely as possible.  Google will then send you a postcard in the mail to verify your business.  When you receive the postcard, put in the code and then your listing will be visible.

Do the same for Bing.  While Bing is only about 30% of all search traffic, it makes sense to create a Bing Places listing. First, go to Bing Places and create an account. Bing allows you to import your information directly from Google My Business – nice, right! If the business you’re trying to get listed doesn’t have a verified Google My Business listing, you can manually add the information. Fill out all the details. You’ll then be sent a card in the mail to verify your listing – like the GMB verification. That’s it.

  1. Avoid Spammy Business Listings

Do you know what ticks me right off? Spammy Google My Business listings. Say you own Tidy Cleaners and you’re based in Alpharetta, GA. You’ve optimized your GMB listing and your name says nothing more than your business name. But the listings above yours have keywords beside their name i.e. Total Cleaners – House Cleaning Alpharetta. According to Google a listing with unnecessary information in your business name is not permitted.  That type of listing could result in the suspension of the listing. Those spammy listings push down the listings that are playing fair.

What can you do about it? Go to that listing, click on “Suggest an Edit”.  Google will investigate. That’s it. 

  1. Check Your NAP

Let’s talk about NAP. It has nothing to do with taking 40 winks during the day, and it has everything to do with the Name, Address and Phone Number of your business. ‘Citations’ of your business could be in business directories, blogs, press releases, and guest posts.  Why pay attention to this?  Because consistent and frequent mentions of your NAP tell Google that you’re trustworthy and established. The more trust Google has in your business, the higher your position in the map listings will be. Also, your positions will rise in the regular organic results.

For example, 52425 Peachtree Pkwy is NOT the same as 5425 Peachtree Parkway. Whichever format you choose, use it in every instance online. 

What if you’ve changed your business address or phone number recently? What if your business is already listed in dozens of directories? You may want to consider an online platform to manage your citations.  Check out www.yext.com or www.brightlocal.com  to manage your listings. It is time-consuming to update, build and review all your citations.

  1. Check Your Google My Business Category

This is a local SEO tip that is rather important. Make sure that the primary category you’re using for your business is the best possible choice based on your business’ products, services. It can make a big difference as you try to improve visibility for terms related to that category.

Google updates its list of categories so it’s good to check that your business is listed under the correct one. Check which category your competitors list under too.

How to Fix

Log into your Google My Business listing (google.com/mybusiness). Under your business name, you can edit the category if necessary.

  1. Meta Descriptions

It’s important to check your meta descriptions – that’s the bit of text in black on a search engine listing.  Why should you care about meta descriptions? Because it’s a mini advertisement to help readers click on your listing and not your competitor’s.

How to fix

Review your meta descriptions with the following in mind:

      1. Add keywords that are relevant for your business and have a high search volume?
      2. Write unique meta descriptions. Don’t use the same description on another web page. You should optimize each page of your website with a different keyword.
      3. Would the description encourage a visitor to click on the listing?
      4. Is the description running off the page?

If you’ve got Yoast or another SEO plugin, it will show if you’ve written too much or too little. Taking the time to review your descriptions and compare them to those of your competitors could make a lot of difference. Higher click-through rates in search engine results could lead to improved search engine rankings.

Best tip of all. Be creative and be consistent.

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