A lot of small business owners face a relatively easy-to-tackle problem from SEOs’ perspective for which they often fail to find a resolution and often give up. The problem is that they fail to show up in local-results dominated SERPs in the first place. To take care of this issue, a small business run by people with little technical knowledge can follow the easy-to-implement methods below.
- A local existence in the place / region you want to target.
- Preferably a contact (phone) number.
It’s a lot easier to show up directly on SERPs if you have a website or an active Google+ page for your business or organisation. Otherwise your company can still show up on Google maps. Suppose, you have a restaurant in Toronto that lacks a website or a properly maintained Google+ page. The people of Toronto can still find it by searching for nearby restaurants in Google maps in most cases, because either you or someone else might have somehow let Google know “there’s a restaurant in that blue building with address 212, XX Avenue”. But, it’ll be impossible for you to rank directly on Google when someone from Toronto searches simply for ‘restaurant’ or ‘places where I can eat’.
Let’s say you already have got a website, but it doesn’t show up anywhere among the local results on Google.
There are two major steps to make your website a place among the local search results:
- Link your physical address, contact number and other useful details to your website.
- Offer Google ways to validate those information.
Step 1: The Link
First of all you have to list your organisation’s contact information directly on its website. You can create a separate ‘about’ or ‘contact’ page and list all helpful details there. Or, you can place its phone number or address on the footer across all the site pages, so they’re easier to access for users. While simply placing contact information on the website is often enough for what we’re trying to achieve, it’s usually a lot safer to just mark those information up with Schema.org tags.
If you’re using WordPress, you can download and install this Schema Creator Plugin. Or, if you’re ready to spend some money on a premium-quality, easy to use plugin with lots of features, you may give Local SEO Plugin by Yoast a try.
If you’re a little comfortable with HTML, you may use Schema Creator for Organizations. You can simply input your company’s details there and it’ll output a nice Schema.org compilant HTML for you to directly place on your site. Let’s see how that looks:
<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/LocalBusiness">
<a itemprop="url" href="http://poweredbysearch.com"><div itemprop="name"><strong>Powered by Search</strong></div>
<div itemprop="description">Full service Toronto SEO, SEM & Inbound Marketing Services. PROFIT HOT 50 Ranked Google Adwords Certified Partner + Featured in Globe & Mail and CTV.</div>
<div itemprop="address" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/PostalAddress">
<span itemprop="streetAddress">505 Consumers Rd #507, Toronto, ON M2J 4V8</span><br>
You can then markup other details individually. This is the code you’ll use to markup your business’ phone number:
Phone: <span itemprop=”telephone”>(416)840-9044</span>
And this is what you should use to markup your location on Google maps:
7660360473996289142&sa=X&ei=3A2iUo2XNMWNrQftpoDoCQ&ved=0CDwQrwswAA” itemprop=”maps”>URL of Map</a>
You can check the Local Business page on Schema.org out to know more about even more types of markups. Remember, you can always validate your page utilizing Schema.org markup using Google’s Rich Snippets tool.
It’s also a good idea to utilize Google Authorship to connect your authors with their Google+ profiles. Author validation is another way of making your site more trustworthy in the eyes of Google, I’ve seen it helping rankings in most cases.
Step 2: The Validation
What is NAP?
NAP is the short form for Name, Address and Phone Number.
What are citations?
Citations are mentions of your company or brand along with other details (NAP for one) across local sites or directories. Citations are to local SEO what links are to generic SEO.
Any time you take a look, you’ll find numerous directories that will allow you to get citations. However, for rookies, ensure you’ve secured your local listing on Google+ Local, Bing Local Pages and Yahoo Local! The Big-3 continue to be the top guns for citations. Furthermore, many people even suggest that Yahoo Local stands out as the ultimate goal for citations. Don’t forget to claim the painless ones: FourSquare, Yelp, UrbanSpoon, and virtually any local directory in your local area. In case you’re part of a local chamber of commerce, get your full NAP contact details posted on their sites, too.
You’ll never hear an SEO specialist say links aren’t crucial. However, if the link is simply your website URL without an impressive anchor text, provided that it’s listed alongside your NAP data, it matters.
Ensure your NAP information is regular throughout all of your listings. In the event you shorten your address (e.g.: St. or Ave.), then do it routinely over every one of your listings. Fix previously inserted listings, if required. If your business includes an ampersand (&), make sure that all of the citations contain it and certainly not the term “and.” Be consistent!
Also, apart from being a trust factor, citations also often drive indirect traffic to websites. That targeted (who would search and find you if they weren’t looking for someone like you) traffic is just a bonus, if not anything else, that the task of citation building offers.
Directories: Discovering local directories ought to be easy. Just search for terms like:
Your City + “Directory”
Your Zip Code + “Directory”
Your Neighborhood + “Directory”
Local Blogs and Websites: Blogs are an additional way to develop local connections and trust. To locate them, hunt for phrases such as:
Your City + “Blog” or “News”
Your Zip Code + “Blog” or “News”
Whenever you find a site, offer to guest post or politely ask the local site link to yours for being a useful “local resource.”
Reputable citation source lists can be found all over the place and vary significantly from list to list but here a handful of our most liked citation sites that appear to fill a good number of listings:
Yelp – www.yelp.com
Foursquare – www.foursquare.com
Merchant Circle – www.merchantcircle.com
Yellow Book – www.yellowbook.com
Judy’s Book – www.judysbook.com
Magic Yellow Pages – www.magicyellow.com
Dex Knows – www.dexknows.com
Local.com – www.local.com
Info USA – www.infousa.com
City Search – www.citysearch.com
Kudzu – www.kudzu.com
Insider Pages – www.insiderpages.com
Note: Almost all the listed sites are free to use, so they’re very much suitable for someone concerned about their budget.
Getting your small business the visibility on location-driven searches doesn’t require you to be a rocket scientist. The process isn’t the easiest SEO method to implement, but that efforts are well worth it considering the outcome.
Sure, you can instead rely on your happy customers for citations and Google+ mentions and meanwhile increase your domain authority. But, the problem with that is that your local listings won’t be guaranteed that way. It just makes more sense to just take care of all of it yourself, especially when it doesn’t have too much cost involved, and you’re sure that increased exposure to local searchers will do your business some serious good.
So, what other ways do you recommend for a small local brand to get listed on Google’s local searches?
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