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Local SEO for Your Small Business

5 Local SEO Tips to Make Your Business MORE Visible Online.

Making sure your business is visible online is mission critical. Both Google and Bing, which provide 80% of all global searches according to data from Net Market Share, try to anticipate the user’s intent when providing search content. This includes providing local results for searches that Google and Bing assume have local intent. For instance, if a user searches for “restaurants,” Google and Bing both assume local intent and give the user results based on current location versus results that could be miles away.

Ranking for local searches requires different search engine optimization (SEO) strategies than campaigns geared for a broader regional or national audience.

SEO can be a bit mysterious for a lot of small business owners. Certainly, many small business owners have heard about search engine optimization. But they are not always sure where to start or how to actually make their business more visible online. There are  various technical aspects in a well-planned SEO strategy. Coupled with some vendors looking to prey on your inexperience and naivety by overwhelming you with SEO word salad, you could end up paying for services that have little or no benefit for your business. Who hasn’t gotten solicitations that claim your site is being penalized or not visible by Google and that you need to act immediately or risk losing the opportunity to appear in search results forever!

Although search engine optimization can get complex quickly, there are a few things you can do on your own, fairly easily and without a lot of expense, that will go a long way to increase your online visibility.

So where do you start? Here are five things things you can do yourself to make sure that your business is showing up on relevant local searches.

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1. Create a Google My Business Account & Claim Your Listing

With over 70% of all searches worldwide being performed by Google, having a Google My Business listing is imperative.

You want your listing to come up on the first page of Google, so claiming your listing on Google could almost seem like common sense. Google+ is also a great way for people to follow you, and it is yet another avenue through which your customers can communicate with you.

When you create a Google listing, there are a few things to remember. First, make sure you fully optimize your listing, providing as much detail as possible about your business. Additionally, you will have to verify your listing. DO NOT forget to do this. If you don’t verify your listing, you will not show up in search results. To find out more, watch the video below from Google.

Visit Google My Business to create or claim your listing.

2. Create & Claim a Business Listing on Bing

Similar to Google, you’ll also want to claim your listing with Bing. Not all customers use Google these days, so getting your listing out with multiple services only helps drive more traffic to your website. Different search engines have different algorithms for generating search results, which means that a company at the top of a Google search may not necessarily be the one that is at the top of a search on Bing.

Visit the Bing Places for Business to create your profile.

3. Encourage Customers to Review Your Business

Word of mouth can be a powerful tool when it comes to bringing more business to your doorstep. There are a lot of review services out there, BUT it’s best to focus your efforts on Google and Bing since these reviews are most likely going to impact your online visibility.

“High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.”

— Google Support

However, asking customers for reviews can be a little tricky, and you have to do this with care. There are some basic guidelines that Google recommends when asking customers for reviews:

  • Do not provide any incentives for reviews.
  • Provide links to Google (and Bing) reviews on your website and in any email correspondence.
  • Ask customers to review your business online, or provide a postcard to remind them, but do not set up in-store stations or kiosks for reviews.

It’s important to follow these guidelines. Google and Bing both want unbiased, “natural” reviews. Any attempt by you or anyone within your organization to engineer reviews could jeopardize the review listing or your business listing.

4. Create a Business Page on Facebook & Verify

We love to hate Facebook but it’s influence is undeniable. In most cases having a Facebook business page is important and often your Facebook business page will appear near the top of search listings. Additionally, a Facebook business page provides valuable signals to Google about your businesses authenticity. If you still haven’t created a page on Facebook for your small business go here to set one up now.

Having a business page is a great start but once you have a page (or if you already have a business page) the next step should be to verify your business page. It’s a simple process. You can verify your business under the “Settings>> General>> Page Verification.” Once you click the “Verify this Page” Facebook will step you through the process of either verifying your page with a phone call and PIN number or with business documentation. See the images below.

With some many ne’r-do-wells on the web taking this extra step will help Facebook understand that you are a legitimate business.

For more dos and don’ts regarding your Facebook business page check out our post on the 5 most common mistakes most small business make on their Facebook page and how to fix them.

5. Sign Up for Local Directories

One last thing you can do to increase your visibility on line is to sign up for relevant business directories. Most directories offer a free listing that you can upgrade or purchase ads that will increase visibility in their search listings. You will have to decide what makes sense for your business. A handful of properly placed free directory listings can be valuable to increase your overall on line visibility. Here at bMighty2 we look at listing services on a client-by-client basis to determine the directories that are most relevant to each client.

So, for instance, if our client is a “massage therapist,” we would research a few common keywords for that business and look at which directories appeared in the first few pages of a search.

Here are a few good directories for this type of business:

So, what about using a directory service?

You may be see advertising about various services that allow you to list your business across multiple local listing directories automatically. These services provide a single interface to add your business information and then publish across multiple platforms. Convenient right? But with that, you’re locked into a monthly payment ranging anywhere from $40 to hundreds of dollars per month.

On the face of it, this seems like a great idea: In one click, list my business on 50+ websites. But is it worth it? In our opinion, probably not. Why? From our research there are a few reasons why you may want to steer clear of these types of services. One, of the 50+ directories your listed on only a handful consistently show high in search results. Two, many niche or industry specific directories which tend to rank high for related keyword searches are not included. And three, it has been are experience with the better directories that listings created directly in the app perform better than listings created by third party providers.

Ultimately, we recommend that you add or claim your business listing through each of the directory services. When you create your listing make sure that you complete as much information as possible, including address, hours, services, images and videos if you have them.

Taking these 5 easy-to-do steps will help you raise your businesses on line visibility and help potential customers and clients find you and do business with you.

Ready to take it further? Download our comprehensive Local SEO checklist.

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