Local SEO For Beginners
It is so important now to optimize your small business website for local search results.
Google serves up local search results based on your IP address. This is part of semantic search, introduced as a theory 14 years ago, and implemented by Google over the course of the last three years. Semantic search delivers search results that are more meaningful to you, for example, if you want a coffee shop or cafe to meet someone in tomorrow, you probably don’t need to see a cafe 4,000 miles away. Just type in “how many miles to Paris” and find out – Google knows where you are and will tell you precisely how many miles to Paris, with a map to get you there – all based on your IP address.
The data provided by your website, in your website, and data provided by other websites, including social signals, tells Google where you are, and what you’re about, so that they may include your coffee shop website in search results for users in your area.
A few things you can do to ensure this are:
- Claim your profiles!
Depending on your region, certain local sites are more popular than others are. Check the Moz guide, or just search for your business and a few local competitors to see what local listings you have out there that need to be corrected.
One of the most important part about claiming you profiles is ensuring accurate listing information (referred to as NAP – Name, Address, Phone). Claiming your profiles will only help you if the NAP on your local listings and citations match that of your website (as defined in point #3 below). This is also your opportunity to work on points #2 and #5 below – if available, ensure that the link to your website is correct and working.
- Gain citations
Citations occur as links to your website, or information about your company or brand – this includes social. Ensure that you have claimed your business pages on each social network you intend to participate in. It may be a good idea to snag your business name on that platform that you don’t think you’re likely to use in the future as well, so you can ensure your NAP is correct and the link to your website is working and correct.
- Use semantic markup
Google refers to semantic markup as ‘rich snippets’ and ‘structured data’. For your local business, you should use schema.org to identify your business name, address, and phone number – you can include additional business data from awards to hours to you specific business type, as well.
The easiest way to add markup to your WordPress website is to use a Schema plug-in, such as the Organization Schema Widget. You can also add a browser extension to check your output, such as the Microdata/JSON-LD sniffer for Chrome.
- Ask for Reviews
- Monitor and gain more citations quarterly
Last but not least, you should review the Local SEO Checklist by Synup, which they have kept updated this year, and will walk you further through each of these steps and more.
If you’d like assistance, certainly, MWC can claim and update your profiles for you, but it is important that you, the business owner, be a part of the process, so you can own your listings, authorize them via phone call, postcard and text message, as each individual service requires.