Back in the old days—before the dawn of the Internet age—customers had to flip tediously through the clunky phone book to find services from a local business. Today, the process of local search is much more streamlined and targeted. You simply type a service and location in a search engine, and up pop the details of several local businesses offering the products or services you’re looking for. Often, someone doing a local search is ready to take action and make a purchase. According to a study by Google, 18% of local searches lead to sales within a day, as opposed to 7% of non-local searches. You can imagine how important it is to end up near the top of these searches. You may have noticed the so-called “Google Local 3-Pack,” which are the top three local results in Google. Get your business to show up there, and you’re golden. But how do you get your business to show up at the top of Google or other local searches?
1. Always use the correct address format.
Sometimes it’s the little details that can make a huge difference. It may seem like a no-brainer, but you want to make sure that you have your address with name, phone number, and URL. Also, make sure this shows up on all of your pages, usually in the footer of your website.
2. Take full advantage of local profiles.
Make sure your business is listed in the major local directories that are relevant to your business, such as Google+ Local, Yelp, yp.com, Citysearch, Bing Local, and others. Simply “claim” your business, and fill out your profile completely, using the exact format you used to when you placed it on your website. Some sites allow you to spice up your listings with images or even videos. As with social media postings and blog posts, images add interest. Businesses with an image tend to rank higher. Sites like Yelp also make it easy for you to offer a deal. If someone is on the fence about visiting your restaurant, a 20%-off coupon may be enough of an incentive for them to book a table.
3. Optimize your website for search engines.
Your website is one of your most important marketing tools, so make sure it’s optimized for local searches! Think about how people might search for you. If they’re looking for local businesses, they’ll likely put the town or city name combined with the services they’re looking for, so be sure to include the town in which you’re located along with your keywords. Also make sure your contact information appears on your website. You can embed a Google map to help your ranking as well.
4. Incorporate local into your blog posts.
Wherever you do business, there are no doubt some intriguing and relevant local stories or attributes you can weave into a blog post. This further ties you to a specific area, which will give you more local clout. You can also try to get featured on other credible local blogs in your area.
5. Encourage reviews.
If people are talking about your business—even negatively—you’ll rank as more relevant in local searches. You want to encourage people to leave reviews, but you also need to make a point of responding to them. Obviously, you won’t want to promote negative reviews, but it’s a good idea to acknowledge them and reach out to any disgruntled customers. You can add positive reviews to your website to further boost your local SEO. Ranking at the top of an organic local search won’t happen overnight. But by implementing the above tactics, you should see your rankings rise, and you may even land at the top of the page in the coveted Google Local 3-Pack.