How to rank in Google Local Searches, Google Place Search, and Google Maps is mystifying to many small business owners. I’ve tried to chop during the complexity and misinformation with this straightforward checklist.
If you’re wondering tips on how to enable your small business to rank well when people seek your services and products to your city and area, the following pointers can help establish yourself pretty thoroughly. Since many businesses do a poor or haphazard job of optimizing themselves to be present in local search results, just following the stairs during this checklist may position you for a few of the top rankings in your form of business on your city.
This checklist is in rough order of importance, and a few of the stairs are a touch sequential. So follow the list so as.
How to Rank in Google Places Checklist
- Select a terrific domain name. In case you don’t have already got one, select a fair domain name on your website. Decide on a site name that reflects your business’s name or the business category name in your company, comparable to “SmithBrosAtlantaPlumbers.com” or “AtlantaPlumbers.com.” For more in-depth suggestions, read my personal blog post “Local SEO 101: Domain Naming.”
- Have a decent website. It doesn’t should be expensive or include lots of bells and whistles. Don’t attempt to out-do others otherwise you might pay an excessive amount of money or become paralyzed by seeking to get it built and published. On the contrary, Google can more easily interpret simpler websites. When deciding set it up, use WordPress as a content management system, because WordPress has an automated advantage in search rankings, fresh out of the box. Let alone, using WordPress makes it easy for nontechnical people to accomplish simple updates and redesign the look of the positioning rapidly someday. See “SEO Friendly URLs for WordPress,” my previous post.
- Include your phone number and street address at the site’s home page and call or locations page. Also, in the event you offer services to numerous distinct neighborhoods, districts, or city names for your area, it can’t hurt to list these areas in an “Offering Services To” section in your home page.
- Perform keyword research. Use the proper keywords to make your corporation findable by nearly all of consumers seeking your variety of company. Don’t assume you understand the main-popular phrases used to locate your corporation; research keywords with Google tools to make sure, and to find related phrases that will are becoming recently popular. Incorporate the keywords you find within the written text to your site.
- Include “services” or “products” pages for your site through the years. You don’t need to do everything straight away — your site is usually a growing asset, and as you include additional info about what you do and what you offer, the location can become progressively more robust in keywords that Google can match up with user searches. See my previous post, “12 Quality Signals that Improve Rankings,” for added standard items so as to add in your site to give a boost to the hunt engines’ trust of your organization.
- Expand your basic business information. Add other basic information on your business website that folks commonly search for. This includes: hours of operation, maps and driving directions, menus, prices, amenities, cost or quality differentiators, discounts and special offers, seasonal events, and the names of householders and employees.
- Establish local citations. “Local citations” are any online mentions of your organization, especially mentions with the telephone number or business address. So, getting your corporation listed in a lot of high-quality online directories is important. The more high-quality sites appropriate in your kind of business you will get listed in, the better. Think of online yellow pages like YellowPages.com, Superpages.com, and Citysearch.com. Also think of reviews sites like Yelp and Angie’s List, as well as category-specific “vertical” directories that match your business type, such as Hotels.com for hotels, FindLaw for lawyers, Contractors.com for contractors, and Urbanspoon for restaurants. Building out your business listings and business profiles on all of these sites helps rankings a lot, but it’s also time consuming and the details can be tricky. There are companies — such as Universal Business Listing, Neustar’s LocalEze, and Infogroup’s Express Update. — that help distribute your listing information to major directories and local search engines. It may be wise to use one or more of them for this purpose. Read “Local Search: Understanding ‘Citations’ to Improve Rankings,” my earlier post, for more information about citations.
- Develop inbound links. Links continue to be important and influential to search engine rankings, so developing links to your site is important. The work to establish Local Citations also results in more links from reputable sources, so you may not need to obsess about this tip so much if you’ve done the other. Link building is also fraught with risk, since so many people do it in a poor manner, resulting in getting penalized. To read up on what not to do, check out my post on “How Not To Build Links For SEO.”
- Claim your listing in Google and Bing. Once your listings have been distributed for a couple of months, chances are that Google and Bing will have absorbed your business information into their local databases and will begin displaying them in local searches and map searches. To check this, search by your business name in maps for your area, and see if your listing is shown within the search results. You can click to view the business information in the search engines, and then select to claim the listing to update it. If your listing hasn’t already appeared, you can wait patiently, or you can try to jump-start the process by adding your listing. Usually the claiming or verification process takes a few weeks, because Google and Bing will call you or send a postcard to make sure your enterprise is located where you say and that you have authority to update the information. Once you have access to update, carefully select business categories, and add as much relevant information about your company as you can. Coordinating your Google Place listing with your company’s Google+ page is still tricky at the time of writing this. You may want to explore your options carefully or tap a professional to help navigate this.
- Integrate with Google+ Local. Coordinating your corporation information with Google+ is advantageous as Google continues to promote that service. Setting up a personal profile on Google+ for yourself or for a prominent employee at your business can help make your search listings more attractive, since the profile picture of your personal profile may be displayed with pages of your site in Google if you set it up correctly. To do this, read my article, “Authorship: The Top Search Marketing Tactic in 2013.” Read, also, “Google+ Local Creates Need For ‘Local Social’ Strategy,” my previous article, for more context.
- Blog. Seriously, just start blogging about things involving your company and your industry or products. Blogging provides a means of developing the keyword content of a site over time. Moreover, blogging is significantly rewarded by the search engines. It also provides you with a format for creating numerous “doors” by which consumers could come into your business. If your site is configured on WordPress, then it won’t take much to set up the blog section and begin blogging. Blogs also provide fodder for social media updates, which is the next tip in our checklist. Read more in “Your Blog is Key to Search Engine Optimization.” Also, decide how you want to set up your blog: a subdomain or a subdirectory.
- Dive into social media. Social profiles and social media update posts can provide a constant influx of citations and links for your business. Google and Bing are increasingly using unique social signals for ranking determinations, too. Integrate with the social media services that make sense for you. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram, YouTube, and Tumblr are all influential. Also, social media check-in services help local SEO, too.
- Develop your business’s influence and engagement levels in social media. Numbers of followers are good, so long as those followers are also influential and engaged. Klout and Kred are both free services that can help you get an independent picture of how much influence and engagement levels you’re achieving for your business through social media.
If you’re in a hotly contested category and market area, you might have to go to a lot more effort than merely accomplishing these basics. Just think about it. If you’re in a city where there are hundreds or thousands of businesses similar to yours, and Google only displays the top seven businesses on the first page of search results, chances are good that many of your competitors are also doing the basics. If you need more advanced, aggressive work, consider hiring a professional to assess your local search optimization program and get recommendations and help for improvement.
But, for a great many businesses, these basics will give a leg-up, and even an advantage, since so few companies are doing all of those things or perhaps doing they all well or consistently. Local SEO isn’t rocket science. But it surely takes concerted effort and consistency to realize and keep top rankings.