Tip #1: Make sure you are categorized as a local business
Before you can start optimizing for search, you need find out how your business presents on search. If you are an online business –but work in an area — you aren’t qualified as a local business. However, if you have a storefront or service a particular local area, you are classified as a local business.
But wait, there are a few more factors that come into play.
Not only do you need to be local, but your business also needs to have a local identity. Local identity doesn’t mean that people need to be aware of your business, but that you are recognized as being in a specific location. To have a local identity, you must have a physical location (not a P.O. Box) and a local phone number (not a 1-800 or in addition to a 1-800).
Tip #2: Keep things consistent
Every place you promote your business, should have the same consistent information. You’ll want to always share your NAP (name, address and phone number) with the same exact information and the same style (unless otherwise dictated). Any online space you have a presence on — from your own website and social profiles to directories and maps — should have the same information.
Being consistent will reinforce your brand image in the online world. Keep in mind that it is a two-against-one mentality: the more places your NAP is listed the same, the stronger your search results will be.
Tip #3: Claim listings
Tip #3 is an expansion of tip #2. By claiming your listings, you are spreading your business all over the web with stronger numbers. Your NAP should be listed on a plethora of local directories in order to help search engines (and customers) find you quickly and easily.
A good place to start are with the five best local directories; once you have updated your business information in all those directories, you can move on to industry-specific directories.
Keywords are often the most confusing thing about SEO — even for seasoned SEO strategists. While being listed in many places makes sense from a numbers perspective, keywords are a bit more qualitative than quantitative.
A good rule of thumb about which keywords to choose (and use frequently across social sites and content, which we’ll get to next) are simply detailed descriptors of your business.
Let’s review an example, using a law firm that describes themselves as “law” or “legal services.” These keywords are too broad and apply to every single law firm in the U.S., so we want to dig deeper. “Chicago law firm,” or “Chicago legal services” would be better keywords for SEO because they define the local area the business is in, as well as descriptors. The law firm could go deeper still, by using a long-tail keyword (sentences), such as “Norwood Park bankruptcy legal services.”
Taking these descriptive keywords and including them in your social posts will help you to be found on social and add strength to your business’s search. Twitter is, once again, being indexed by Google in real-time helping your tweets spread further and quicker across the web.
Tip #5: Invest in content
Tips 1-3 will help you establish your SEO, but they can only take you so far. Using keywords on social media will boost your ranking on social, but if you aren’t regularly posting content, you’re using a butter knife when you really need a butcher knife.
Content is named “king” for a reason: it brings in an audience in a way advertisements and traditional marketing methods can’t, while also strengthening your business image online. By regularly writing on a blog (or posting deals/news) about your business online, and incorporating keywords, you will reinforce the strong hold you created with tips 1-3.
Use these five local SEO tips and you’ll be on the road to dominating local search and bringing new customers through the door.