If your business serves a particular town or city and its surrounding areas, then Local SEO – that is, making sure your website is optimized locally – is a critical component of your online marketing.
There are many factors that contribute to your local search rankings but local SEO starts, unsurprisingly, with your company website. From choosing a domain name that indicates your geographic location (like philspizzanyc.com) to adding your location in page titles, to including your business name, address and phone number in the website’s footer – all of these contribute to boost your rankings in local search results.
The next step to success in Local SEO can be summarized in two words: directory listings. The world of directory listings can be overwhelming and the task of submitting your information may seem daunting. We won’t lie — it’s a long process, but not overly complicated – just time consuming.
While you may be tempted to list your business everywhere, that’s actually not the best plan. After submitting to all the major sites like Yelp and Google+, spend a little time to thoroughly research local and niche directories specific to your industry. Don’t neglect any hyperlocal directories where you can optimize for your neighborhood and not just the larger geographical area.
There are various elements that contribute to the efficacy of directory listings’ impact on your online presence. These elements are:
- NAP (Name, Address, Phone number)
- Current information
- Being thorough
NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone number and it’s very important that when you start filling out forms for the listings that your NAP be both accurate and consistent. That means that the information added to the directories should be identical in each and every listing: Phil’s Pizza, and Phils Pizza may be considered as two different businesses by Google.
Make sure your business information is up-to-date. If you’ve changed locations or phone numbers, you should go through all your directory listings to make sure they all have the updated info. Inconsistencies can undermine the authority of your listings, which can negatively impact your position in search results.
While some directories ask for summary information (business name, address, phone number, website URL) others allow and encourage you to be more thorough with the information you publish. For example, if you’re a restaurant listed on Yelp you’re encouraged to give information regarding business hours, accepted forms of payment, parking, etc. If a directory allows you to publish pictures of your business then you absolutely should! The more information you can provide the better. Thoroughly completed listings are not only helpful to your business by providing useful information to your customers, they also help your website SEO.
The more (positive) reviews your business has, the more authoritative the listing is, and the better the business will position itself in local searches.
Always encourage your customers to leave reviews, and not just on one review or social media site (foursquare, Yelp, Google+, etc.). You can accomplish this more easily by linking to your listings directly from your website or emailing a customer after a successful engagement.
Remember to respond to the reviews your customers leave, even when they’re negative. When you receive a positive review it’s a good idea to thank the customer for their review; when it’s negative, thank the customer for the feedback and let them know that you’ll look into improving your products or services.