Structure Your Site Right
Internal linking structure – which pages are linked to which others, and how they’re linked – is an important part of working your way up the results list for any search, including local ones. Done right, it even makes your site easier to use for customers, which means more sales and better reviews.
There are several guides on how to do this well, but for most companies, it’s best to make your priorities known to your website designer and make sure it’s part of the design from the beginning.
Include the Right Information
Some of this is common sense of course, but make sure you don’t miss anything vital.
Where are you?
Dedicated Contact Page with name, address, email and phone number. The smaller you are, the more detailed your information should be. For example, if you have a single location, make sure the whole address is in the footer of each page on your site.
How can they get in touch?
Your site has to be optimized for mobile devices. These are a major – and growing – proportion of search origins. An added benefit of mobile searches is that many of them – more than three-quarters – result in a phone call immediately after the search. Your site should be set up to make that phone call a single-click effort.
How can they find you?
Always include a map. For some, this will be the only way they can find you; for others, it will be a simple way to spot you in an area with which they are familiar. Either way, the point is to get feet into your store, and a map is a great way to make it easy for potential customers.
Make sure your name, address, email and phone number is consistent throughout the website. Special emails for sales or customer support are fine, but make sure the other data is identical (not ‘Street’ on one and ‘St.’ on another, for example).
If you have multiple locations, include a page dedicated to that, with active maps for each one.
Google considers a testimonials link a sign of trustworthiness in a website or company. These can be paid ones, or those you’ve picked from your comments box. The best ones are always the real ones. You don’t have to include anything negative, but make sure they are genuine.
Haven’t heard of this? You aren’t alone.
Schema was invented to allow major search engine to share a common language. The correct schema communicates facts about your business to all of the major search engines. It will indicate that you are, in fact, a local business, for example, and not a multinational chain stealing the top line of the search for brand awareness.
You can develop your site’s schema here, or trust it to your website professional.
Though this can be daunting for some, it is important to keep at least a basic presence on platforms like Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, and if appropriate, Trip Advisor. Local review sites are also important.
Google My Business is the top dog here, because the world’s most popular search engine (Google) can verify the information there better than it can for other platforms.
Social media and (especially) review sites are important not only in order to engage with customers who use these sites, but also because Google often places review sites just under the initial three results on a list. This means that you could get onto the top three spots and have an additional mention just below them, complete with review stars. Set it up right and you potential customers’ first impression of your company will be one of trust.
Because it’s a job that needs to be done on a regular basis, blogging is often neglected. Neglected at your search-engine peril, however, as this fresh content – especially if it is quality content – shows really well to a search engine.
Links to your blog (or citations in other blogs) mean links to your company’s website, which means a rise in the search rankings. A good blog will include local place names, references to other local companies, news, and events. Sponsoring events and covering them in your blog also helps generate these links and traffic – and all of that helps with search result rankings.
Your blog shouldn’t be a list of your products or descriptions, in fact avoid that. Instead, try to give some benefit to the reader. Get some real value in there that you give to them for free. That will keep the traffic flowing, the contact fresh, and the search benefits high.
Every new blog entry is a new blip on a search engine’s radar, so a regular blog can add up to a big return over time.
Finally, make sure that past work on your site is still working for you – not against you. Services like Whitespark Local Citation Finder, Moz Local, Screaming Frog, Buzzstream, and Ahrefs can help you keep an eye on where you’re linked up to other sites, which sites are linked up to you, and whether or not you have any errors – like the frustrating 404 – that might put customers off and harm your SEO quality.
Whether you tackle these jobs yourself, or hire a professional to make and monitor your site for you, it is important to ensure that each of these factors has been considered. Local business is the best kind, and making sure your place is found at the top of the list is an important – but very doable – part of maintaining an effective presence on the web.