For some time now Google has been working hard to promote local search results, often to the detriment of national or non geographical results. How hard have you been working to capitalise on this? With the right SEO approach you can enjoy top placement in major keyword searches, with the result that traffic can become multiplied several times over in a very short space of time.
But in order to be listed by Google right at the top of the search results as a local business it’s important that you spend time working on your local search engine optimisation campaign. It’s clearly more involved than simply sticking the name of the town you’re based in on one or two web pages, so how do you maximise your brand visibility within the local search results? The following five tips should help steer you in the right direction for a traffic explosion.
1. The place to be is Google Places. Google Places is the equivalent of their local business directory, and it’s just about as good as it gets. Imagine having your business listed as number one on Google, with a huge area of the page dedicated to your listing, with a map and even a photograph listed alongside your business name, summary, description and even contact details. It’s like having a business card being distributed by the number one traffic generator in the world.
But of course, to get on Google Places it’s necessary to create that business card first. You’ll need a Google account, which then gives you access to the Google Places service. It’s completely free, and once you’ve completed the necessary verification you’ll have a hugely powerful presence. Don’t forget though that Yahoo and Bing have similar features, and with Bing & Yahoo now powering 30% of the searches carried out each day, it’s well worth getting your business listed there too.
2. Location consistency. Make sure that you go back through all instances of your website being referenced on the web (known as citations!). This might include web directories, profiles and social media accounts. Make sure that any and all websites which reference or link to your business are doing so in a consistent way, and which references the one location you’re focussing on. It’s important to make sure that the localisation is consistent, otherwise Google may not list your site as a local business.
3. Meta tags. Listing the name of your town on a couple of pages is not enough. Make sure that every web page title includes the town name, and that as well as appearing in the <title> tag it also appears in the description tag. Whilst I’m talking about ‘on-page’, it’s also a good idea to have your full address listed on every single webpage – not just the contact page. The best way to achieve this is to incorporate it into the footer section.
4. Local directories. In the real world you would expect a good deal of enquiries to come from people finding your business in the local telephone directory. The same is true online, with many local business directories working very hard to generate traffic. Being listed in directories such as Yelp.co.uk, Qype.co.uk, Hotfrog.co.uk and such like not only means that you’re more likely to be found by people using these sites to find local businesses, but they also help to persuade Google that you really are a local business with a geographical presence, which helps to ensure your listing appears at the top of the Google Places results page.
5. Use a local area code. It’s tempting for a business to use an 0800 number, or one of the other ’08’ business codes. However, this doesn’t help with your localisation optimisation. Good SEO practise when optimising for local search results is to include a local area code number. So if you’re in Manchester, use an 0161 number, not an 0845 one. Google and the other search engines will pick up on this as they know which area codes relate to which localities.
There are many other excellent ways to help optimise your business for Google’s local search results. If you’d like more help or more specific advice tailored to your business’s needs, why not get in touch?