Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Top Tips For Local Businesses

If you are a small business owner then the chances are, your customers are mostly withing the local area.

Google realized about 3 years ago that local search was becoming more and more important and a growing number of people were typing a location name along with their search terms. After all, it makes sense to search for 'Aberdeen emergency plumber' rather than 'emergency plumber' if you have a burst water pipe and you stay in Danestone!

The Venice update (see SEOMoz for the full lowdown) rolled out a large number of enhancements to the local search and kick-started the process that has led to today's blended (ie it appears in the main search listings complete with map listing, reviews and Google+ integration.

Improvements to ranking for local search results. [launch codename “Venice”] This improvement improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal.
"Improved local results. We launched a new system to find results from a user’s city more reliably. Now we’re better able to detect when both queries and documents are local to the user."

The amazing thing (at least for me) is that, according to recent research, 63% of consumers and small business owners use the Internet as their primary source of information when looking to buy goods or services.

Even more amazing is the fact that 39% of them say that , quite often, they cant locate a particular business. That's a lot of traffic (and business) going begging! So, if you are a small business owner targeting the local market, you really need to implement local SEO techniques to tap into this growing market. Luckily, its not too hard to improve your local visibility if you follow a few simple guidelines.

Over the next couple of days, I am going to list some of my top tips for promoting your business using local search. Here are 3 to get started today:

1. Think Local and Link Local! There are loads of quality local websites and directories that will allow you to place links for free, for a small fee or sometimes just for contributing some content to their site. These sites often rank well in the search engines themselves and get local traffic. Links from sites such as hotfrog.co.uk, or even Best Of Aberdeen (just contact Harry!) give you local exposure and will drive local visitors to your site.

2. Consistency Is Key. Even if you have different websites or trading names, you need to present a single front to the search engines. Make sure that you use the same NAP - Name, Address and Phone number when listing your business in online directories because Google uses this information to tie these citations back to your business. By varying this information you are diluting their effectiveness and creating more work for yourself!

3. Get Reviews. Hopefully your customers are of the happy variety! If they are, then why not ask them to give you a review saying so? Many directory sites such as HotFrog and Yelp allow their users to leave reviews and,of course so does Google, providing you are logged in using your Google+ account. It only takes your customers a few minutes of their time and most are happy to help you (you could even incentivise them by offering a discount voucher etc). The more reviews you get, the better you will rank in the local listings.

If you want to know more about local SEO then please take a look at my website where I offer a range of professional local SEO services including bespoke consultancy and pre-defined packages., and remember to come back tomorrow when I will give you another 3 killer tips for great local rankings.

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