One of the mysteries that escapes many small to medium sized businesses is the magic behind getting their companies to appear in Google Maps and Google Search results (SERPs) for different geographic locations that their business serves.
Let’s put this in story form. For the purposes of this story, I am now a plumber. An awesome plumber.
I have opened a plumbing business in small town “A”, which is not the main town in my county. That main town is larger town “B” which is about 10 miles away. I have created a website that we will call “AwesomePlumber.com,” as I could only be a completely awesome plumber. There are many small towns and nearby cities and counties that I currently service. I’ve been open for six months and business is going well, but I’ve noticed that I only get calls from a small radius around my city center. I’d really like to start getting business from people in town “B,” but they just don’t seem to find me when they search for plumbers on Google.
How do I get my AwesomePlumber.com business information to show up in local searches outside my direct business area?
The Local SEO Challenge
There are several steps that must be taken, and quite a few that must absolutely avoided. For a long time, there were some rather “black hat” SEO methods to get businesses to appear in searches for cities and states where the businesses were not physically located. This involved location spamming in the footer, listing zip codes and city names with links back to the homepage, and many other recently-banned methods for local SEO optimization.
Google released an update, affectionately known as “Pigeon,” around Christmas that has killed many of these “black hat” methods and improved local SERPs overall.
Get On Google Maps & Google+
There is no good excuse for not having a local business page on Google that is linked to your website. The business in the story above should have started with the following easy steps that can be done in one afternoon:
- Create your Local Business Page on Google+ and link it to Google Maps
- This is a snap, and if you already have a Places Page, you can easily link it to a Google+ Local Business page.
- Link this to your website. This verifies your profile, which can also be accomplished by verifying your business (postcard / PIN method).
- Create the following Google Accounts and link them
- Google Analytics
- Google Webmaster Tools
- If you have used the same web address for all of these accounts you will now see linked data in Google MyBusiness.
- Edit your business settings and establish a service radius for your brick & mortar location.
Once a service radius is established, you will now begin to appear within search results inside that radius. Now, don’t get crazy and set a 300 mile service radius. Google will know that you’re full of it, and it won’t really benefit you in the long run.
That’s the end of the first step, and it can all be done in less than an hour.
Local Website Optimization
Now that the really easy part is done, we need to talk about some harder work. Because the days of link spamming your footer with location links and zip codes are over, there are some far more advanced and completely “white hat” methods for getting your business page to appear more prominently for locales away from your brick & mortar location.
Create location specific landing pages that describe your services, use names of towns in that area and associate them with your services using contexted internal links, and use proper on-page optimization techniques. If you follow these simple steps, you’ll immediately begin to outpace most of the local business pack.
Leverage Voice of the Customer
I cannot say enough about the power of the customer review. While you will always get negative reviews, attaining positive reviews for your business or store from around the internet are immensely helpful for local search.
Be sure to create accounts on services (when appropriate) like TripAdvisor, Yelp, UrbanSpoon, and Angie’s List. These are just a few examples, but creating your accounts before people start reviewing accomplishes a few things.
- You ensure that your business information matches your business listing on Google. That’s really important.
- You are contacted by certain services when you receive a review. Being responsive to negative reviews helps.
- Reviews from different services across the internet where your business NAP (name, address, phone number) is listed helps boost your SERP.
So Local SEO is Easy, Right?
I know. I went and made local SEO sound like someone can just go and SERP rank overnight. Well, I certainly didn’t share all the tricks, but that’s why you should talk to the experts.
If you have a business and need to expand or improve your local search results, talk to the local SEO experts at Synapse.