Local Business SEO: Improving your Business’s Local Search Rankings

An average Google search will return hundreds of thousands of SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Ninety-nine percent of them are likely irrelevant, but that still leaves you facing off against 100 competitors for the top spot.

As a locally-focused business, you are given a head start with Google’s new local search features.

On any given search, Google gives preference to results that are geographically close to the searcher. For example – if someone in downtown Vancouver searches “veterinarian” they will be shown the websites for veterinary clinics with Vancouver addresses, even if a Seattle veterinarian has a more SEO-friendly website.

To a local business owner, this feature is especially helpful: Google is already working to bring targeted local prospects to your door.

If Google SERPs are Automatically Local, Why Bother with Directories?

Local directories are websites like Yelp, YellowPages.com, or Foursquare. There are hundreds of possible directories to list your business in – if you’re looking for some guidance, feel free to ask.

The primary value of directories is the consolidation of your business information: company name, full street address, website URL, or even a list of your products or services. Optimizing all your directory listings around target keywords helps keep your online presence focused on your target customer base. For example, if your business is a veterinary clinic, and your business name and description includes a pet care or veterinary-specific keyword your prospects will easily find you.

Consistency is equally important – it may be tempting to “broaden” your reach by targeting different keywords in different listings - don’t.

Seriously.

By keeping your different listings identical, you ensure that Google doesn’t get confused. Think of your directory listings as SEO support for your actual website. If some listings are spelled differently, or feature different keywords, the search engines (specifically the superpower Google) might not make the connection between your listing and your website – which does nothing to help your SEO.

Being Socially Motivated can Also Help You Reach a Local Audience

Social media networks are not the same as local directories; social networks offer you the chance to interact with your visitors and build a community. That said, you should treat your business page information like a directory – keep your company name, address, and additional information consistent with your website and all other listings.

It is important to know that not all social media accounts tie directly in to your website SEO – a murky world of affiliation and competition leaves search engines blind to the content on some social networking sites. Facebook, for example, is affiliated with Bing, leaving Google blind to any posts or other activity. For this reason, we strongly recommend nurturing a Google+ profile for your business. Google+ has the added benefit of combining the social media community with your local directory listing – all linked directly to Google search results.

The Majority of Local Searches are Made on Mobile Devices

When targeting local searches, having a mobile-friendly web presence is just as important as being consistent with your listings. According to Hubspot’s 50 Mobile Marketing Facts presentation (slide #16), 70% of mobile searches lead to action within one hour.

What does that mean?

The majority of mobile searches are made while the user is actively looking for a product or service – they are much closer to committing to a sale than someone doing research on their desktop computer. Keeping your directory listings up-to-date gives you multiple mobile-friendly listings that give potential clients access to your contact information.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Doug Hay & Associates and a clickable link back to this page.