Can your customers find your business?
This question used to only refer to whether customers could find your business's physical location. Nowadays, however, it refers to both your physical location and online visibility. Customers search for products online first, and if they don’t find you, chances are they’ll find your competition.
Local SEO is the key to being found by customers and increasing profits.
A quick gut-check for the strength of your local SEO is to search keywords relevant to your businesses. If your competitors rank higher than you do, then your local SEO is not doing you any favors.
The good news is that local SEO is easy to fix. This article describes two key components of local SEO, the local "3-Pack" and branded searches, and provides three steps for businesses to take to improve their local SEO to achieve success for those components.
What is Local SEO and Why Does It Matter?
Local SEO is location-specific. Since more people conduct searches on mobile devices than computers and since Google Maps is thought to solicit information from organic search, it’s essential to do what you can to improve your local SEO.
The two key components of Local SEO are:
Prior to 2015, local search results on Google highlighted seven businesses at the top of the page. The seven businesses that appeared there had a better chance of getting calls and visits than those that didn’t.
In 2015, Google narrowed the box to show only 3 businesses. If your business isn’t in the top 3 results for local search, you’re probably going to miss connecting with potential customers.
Branded Searches and Business Listings
Consider combining local search with branded search terms for better results. When you add a brand name to a common search term, Google abandons the three-pack and displays more ads at the top of the search results and business listings that sell that brand.
If your business sells popular brand names, work to associate those names with your location and company to improve your local SEO.
The "3 Pack" and branded searches are ideal targets for your local SEO. In order to achieve success for each of these components and top local search results, consider the following three steps.
Step 1: Claim and Verify Your Main Business Listings on Google, Bing, and Apple
One of the best ways to get your local SEO in line is to claim and verify your Google My Business, Bing Places, and Apple Maps listings. Use these three directories to verify information about your business and add information about your hours and anything else that might be relevant to customers.
You should also upload several pictures and include a description of your business that is designed to appeal to your target audience.
Keep in mind that your NAP listings (name, address, and phone number) must be identical for all your online listings. That means if you use “Avenue” in one listing, you can’t use “Ave” in the next – it dilutes the effectiveness of your local SEO.
Step 2: Add Schema Markup Code
Schema code is structured code that you insert on your website to help Google index pull more detailed information from your website, such as rich snippets.
Schema markup increases the odds that your site will display rich snippets (or whatever you place in the markup code) in search results. Every search result gets three things: a title, a display URL, and a description. Rich snippets that are displayed through schema code display additional information like star ratings of reviews, product prices, and event dates associated with your company, which allows searchers to get a better idea of the value and services your business provides.
Use this document to access step-by-step instructions for installing schema code.
Step 3: Use Meta Titles and Descriptions Properly
When you search something on Google, you typically see a list of search results with blue titles and descriptions beneath them. Those titles and descriptions are known as meta information, and your success in local search depends on you using them correctly.
Two key things you should include in every meta title and description are your location and service offerings.
The goal here is to make sure that your search results inform customers that your business is in their area and sells the products and services they are interested in. A lot of times, you’ll see a meta title that looks like this:
Business Name | Business Type | Location
That’s easy to read and leaves prospective customers with no doubt about who you are, where you are, and what you do. You can also make selective use of brackets and capital letters if you have images or infographics on your site. For example, you can include [VIDEO HERE] in your meta description to let people know that they’ll find a video if they navigate to your page.
Companies Risk Losing Customers By Ignoring Local SEO
Investing in local SEO provides distinct advantages for businesses. To ignore local SEO is to risk undermining your business through:
- Keeping you off the first page on Google, Bing, and other search engines
- Preventing potential customers from finding you
- Sending business to your competitors
Claiming and optimizing business listings, adding schema markup, and using meta information improve your local SEO and your chance of capturing a greater audience for your business.
About the Author
Rahul Alim is the CEO of Custom Creatives, a digital marketing firm in Los Angeles. Custom Creatives has been helping digital marketing agencies and small businesses grow with effective online marketing strategies, design, and execution. If your business needs help, contact Rahul Alim here.