Truly, local SEO is not rocket science. However, it does require a knowledge of the basic components and what is most effective to get your business showing in what we call “the Local Stack.” In the sample below, I searched for “restaurants near me.”
This is the local SEO stack and it is where you need to be if your business depends upon people finding you and actually showing up at your front door. It doesn’t require a fancy degree or a position with NASA to show up in these results. It requires knowledge of the 5 pieces of the local search foundation.
Foundation Piece 1 = Google My Business
In order to show up in that stack, you must have a Google My Business Listing (GMB). This listing gets you on the map. There are a few things to keep in mind before you jump over there, though.
- Make sure your information is accurate. Search your business to see if you already have a listing. Creating a duplicate will cause both listings to be suspended. If one is already there, claim it. If it is not, then begin the process to create one.
- Be sure to fill out your GMB completely! Do not leave any portion empty or blank.
- Be sure to add images of the outside of your location, your product, and your people.
Take your time and do it right the first time. You don’t want to get the Google slap down later. We have gotten into the ring with Google many times, trust me, it’s ugly.
Lastly, be sure to complete the verification process. Without doing so, all of your hard work and time has been wasted and your local SEO has still not begun.
Foundation Piece 2 = Bing Places for Business
Bing is not the biggest search engine, but it is the most forgotten. However, Apple products are now pre-inclined to Bing search unless the user knows how to change the default and actually takes the time to do so. So ensuring you have a listing for your business in Bing is very important.
Completing your listing with Bing is very similar to the Google My Business process, just be advised that the interface is different. Take your time, fill out each section and leave nothing blank. Again, ensure you complete the verification process as well and do not waste your time and effort.
Foundation Piece 3 – Apple Maps
Apple Maps are another animal indeed, and the process can be daunting. A listing will require you to create an apple id, and most times a phone call at the time of submission is required in order to complete your listing. I highly recommend that you set aside a block of completely uninterrupted time to complete your listing.
Foundation Piece 4 – Local Directories
Local directories are a must for every local business. Do not skip this step. Sites like Yelp are a must for every local business. You can run a free directory audit here and see where your business is listed, if any, and if the information is correct. Then you can begin the process of listing your business. You only need the free listing with each directory. Be sure to consider if your business is a good fit for each particular directory. For example, Home Advisor is a great place for a handyman, or siding installer, but maybe not so much for a clothing store.
Foundation Piece 5 – Onsite SEO
Here is where most people run into issues trying to improve their Local SEO rankings. Each and every page of your website must be optimized. You need a page title and a meta description that clearly resonates with keywords and the content of that page itself. There is no way to ‘game’ this. Don’t try. Google will give out that notorious slap down and pain will be involved. It is much harder to fix penalties than to just do it right the first time.
If your business is dependent upon that customer walking in the front door, make sure you have a location page on your website that clearly has your name, address, and hours of operation with a Google map inserted as well. This page’s SEO components (title and meta description) will go a long way to helping you show up well in search results.
These are the 5 foundation pieces to your local SEO efforts. Yes, it can be taken further, of course. But without these, other efforts are somewhat lacking in effectiveness.