With 2018 just around the corner, it’s time to begin thinking about your new year’s resolutions. Perhaps you want to get in better shape, or maybe you’d like to start a new hobby. If you own a website, your resolution could be to improve your local website rankings. Lucky for you, it’s easier than you might think. You see, search engine rankings are determined by an algorithm that’s looking for specific criteria. By using local SEO, you can ensure that your website is ranked highly on search engines in targeted locations that are key to your business.
So, what can you do to improve your local website ranking?
1. Create a Google My Business page.
This is the first and most important thing you can do in order to improve your local SEO. You want to fill in as much detail as you can when you’re filling in this page. The more information, the more engaging the page will be, and thus the more attention it will receive. Details like your business’ contact information, opening hours and address will really assist with Google optimizing the information on a local level. Another key box to fill in is the one asking you to pick what category your company falls into. Not only will this help customers identify exactly what your business does, it’s also super helpful for the Google bots. For example, if you own a restaurant, choosing this category means you will rank on searches for ‘restaurant’ in your area, rather than solely appearing when someone searches for the name of your venue. Choose a selection of high-res pictures to support the page, too.
To create (or later edit) your My Business page, you will need to verify that you have permission to do so. This will either involve:
- An email being sent to the email account you have registered with the My Business details.
- A verification code sent via automated message to your mobile phone.
- A postcard sent to your listed address.
2. Build citations to your website.
Once your Google My Business page is up and running, it’s time to add some NAP citations. NAP stands for name, address and phone number. Sometime people add extra letters to the acronym to denote the importance of factors like your website URL, but ultimately the initial three letters are the most important. Search engines use NAP citations to determine your authority online. Essentially, the more records of your business exist online, the more search engines will see it as a relevant site to suggest to web users.
NAP citations are also great because:
- Citation signals account for 13% of ranking factors.
- The NAP directories are a great way for people to find you, when they’re not using search engines like Google.
- These directories will also rank on Google, so you’re essentially doubling your SEO reach.
Depending on the purpose of your business, you’ll want to focus your NAP citations differently. You’ll either want to focus on directory citations for your business category, or by location. However, one thing to always remember when setting up NAP citations is to ensure that your details are consistent across all websites. According to Myles Anderson, a columnist for Search Engine Land, inconsistent citations are the top issue for local SEO rankings. There are certain auditing services you can use to check this for you such as Citations Builder who offer various local citation building services.
3. Be present on authority websites.
Rather than setting up a profile for your business on every website under the sun, you can streamline your work by appealing to authority websites. These are websites that receive high SEO rankings of their own, which will further improve your own local website ranking. To find the best websites for you to post on, search online for the top citation sources in your country. Some of them may not be relevant to your business, but the majority will be sites that you can use. Before you start, set up a spreadsheet to organize the results, based on their relevance to your business, and the influence each one has. Some of these sites may involve participation to merit you being mentioned. If a local university gets lots of traffic, why not sponsor an event or have a pop-up shop on campus? Do any local bloggers have a big following? If so, you could send them a product for free, in exchange for a review and advertising space on their site. Make sure to send company announcements to the local newspaper, too.
4. Get reviews.
Although it may take a bit of time to have a significant number of reviews of your business online, this can make a great deal of difference to your local SEO ranking. It will also make your business seem more legitimate and trustworthy to new customers. In fact, the Local Consumer Review Survey for 2017 found that 97% of consumers read reviews for local businesses online in 2017. What’s more, a whopping 87% said they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Rather than waiting for reviews to appear on their own, you can spur customers along. If you have a regular crowd of customers who have posted reviews on other websites, it’s worth asking them first if they can leave a review on your Google My Business page. Once you have a couple of reviews under your belt, other customers will be much more inclined to do the same. Why not put up signs around the premises asking visitors to do so, or even have the cashier ask customers to leave a review if they’ve had a positive experience. Online, you can drive people to review your site by adding a request for reviews to your website, and mentioning it in your email signature. You’ll need to always keep an eye on your reviews, in case a bad one sneaks through the cracks. Make sure to personally respond and try and find a solution to their issue, and they may be inclined to change their review.