If you are a local business, getting your business found and set up properly is essential. There are three components to this.
- Off Site / Off places
- Google My Business Listing
One critical thing to keep in mind when doing local SEO is that you must have consistent contact information at every touchpoint on the web. This is called NAP (Business Name, Address and Phone Number).
The reason why you want this is because search engines aggregate data from multiple sources that relate back to your business profile on the web. If you do it right the first time, you will save yourself a lot of time and heartache from having to go back and do it again. It is very frustrating to go back and change things later on.
Here are some tips for your NAP
- Get your NAP (name, address and postcode) and telephone numbers everywhere before you do your page.
- Use a company email address with the business domain name e.g. www.yourdomain.com
- If you have a home based business and do not want to show your address, consider using a service like http://www.mbe.com.au which gives you a physical address
- Use a company email address – not an employee email address because you never know if they will move on
- Fill in as much information as you can as this will help your listing rank
- Use your official business name and do not add keywords to your name – you will be punished if you get caught!
- Make sure sure the information you put in is consistent.
The next step is to get citations (mentions of your business name, address, phone number and web address) from off-site around the web before you claim your listing.
Off Site / Off Places
- Add your business to relevant directories – Market Specific, Local Directories, Portals (i.e. Bing Local), etc.
- The most important ones in Australia are:
- yelp.com.au -Yelp is is new in Australia but likely to become powerful because it integrates with Facebook
- You can use the Whitesparks Local Citation Finder to help you build out a list of citation opportunities.
- Inbound Links to Website (and internal links)
- Make sure your website has links from other trusted websites
- Ensure your website has links from other trusted websites in your area (city level)
- Make sure the links (anchor text) is targeting the proper keyword terms (anchor text) that you want your business to be associated with
- Establish partnerships/relationships with other industry related websites where you can obtain a link from
- Have internal links within you website – use rich anchor text that represents your products and services. Include location in your anchor text links.
- Have a blog – This will enable you to add content to your site. The benefits of a blog are: quicker indexation, more pages to target more keywords and creating trust with customers.
- Add link from your social media accounts to your website. Some social media sites includes:
- Facebook Page
- Google+ Business Page
- Include social sharing icons on your site so your customers can easily share your pages and content over social networks
- Bookmark, link build, & retweet your citations to distribute content – This has proved to be an effective way to get content on high PR, trusted sites.
- You can use tools like Google Webmaster Tools or SEOmoz Open Site Explorer to keep an eye on how many links the website receives over time.
Google My Business
Once you have listings off-site around the web, you should start to complete your Google My Business listing. Here are some tips to help you get started.
- Use your actual Business Name: Make sure you don’t stuff keywords in the title.
- Physical Address: Make sure you added your physical address to your Places account – PO Boxes are not allowed.
- Manually Verified Place Page
- Manually claim and verify your business listing in Google Places
- If you see your business already there on Google Maps, make sure you claim the listing.
- Note: Google only allows you to register one listing per account. Choose your account wisely.
- Categories: Add in the categories that describe the products and services that your company offers. If not, review your categories to ensure your business is placed under the right section.
- Area Code/Telephone
- Ideally you should use a local area code telephone number for your business.
- Use a different telephone number if you have multiple locations – do not use a 13 number which diverts to the local location if you want all your offices listed. You should also use an area code specific telephone number for that listing.
- Never use a 1-800 number in Google Places.
- Photos: add as many as you can (you can have up to 10)
- Geotag your pictures and name the pictures with your keywords that you want to rank for in Google.
- To geotag Open an account at Flickr. Label your photos as [category keyword,town] & [town,category keyword], and use the geo-coding capabilities. Otherwise use a tool like Exif Tool out this Guide to Geotagging Images for Local Seo on Search Engine Land.
- Video: Add video (you can have up to 5 videos)
- Geo-tag your video’s and add your business name, address & phone number to the description of each video.
- Additional Details: Add in the the Additional Details section – eg. do a short sentences which contains your keywords or use this section to link to the page that also has these reviews.
- Offers: Use the offers page to add coupons that people can use or view on their mobile.
- Reviews: Get Reviews – this is going to critical in the future.
- Ask your clients / customers to add their review of your business on your Google Places page or even other sites where your business is listed.
- Let your customers know you are on other review sites like Yelp.com by displaying a sign/sticker on your store front.
Finally, you also want to make sure that your website is also optimized for local search.
- On Page SEO (search engine optimization)
- Make sure your homepage is optimized for
- <meta description>
- Body text
- ALT text
- Make your pages have specific local + keyword targeting – If you are a Estate Planning Lawyer in Melbourne, you’ll want ‘Melbourne’ along with your practice in all these areas.
- Have a landing page for each location if your business has more than one location. For example, it is recommended that you have a different landing page for each city that your business is in. This increases the opportunity to target towns/suburbs that you may not be targeting if you were in a larger city.
- See if your NAP information marked up using Microdata (Schema.org)
- Make sure your homepage is optimized for
- Contact Us Pages
- Make sure you have included;
- Business hours;
- Directions to your store;
- Menu if you are a restaurant; and,
- A map locating your physical location (you can get your map from Google Maps.
- Make sure you have included;
- KML File
- Make sure you have a KML file specifying your location and coordinates (latitude and longitude) in the root directory of your site? (i.e. www.yourdomain.com/locations.kml)
- Use a tool to help you create your
Geositemap andKML files: http://www.geositemapgenerator.com/).
- Geo Sitemap. Note : As March the Geositemap is no longer required and will report a warning message if you upload it.
Create and upload a geo sitemap to the root directory of your site. Make sure your geo sitemap references your KML file. Specify your geo sitemap in Google Webmaster Tools.
- Mobile Site
- Make sure your site is optimized for mobile.
- Ensure that your contact information, including phone, directions and a map, is presented in a clean manner on mobile devices.
- Make sure you have content about your products and services.
- Ensure your pages are optimized for your researched keywords + location.
- Write and provide helpful resources that make you sound credible and trustworthy to your customers.
We recommend reading the official Google Places Guidelines as well as checking out GetListed.