Your Guide to Local SEO

The Process of SEO

Local search engine optimization is a highly effective form of focused, online marketing. It allows your business to promote its products or services to local customers at the exact time they’re looking for them.

Any local business, from plumbers and builders to florists and lawyers, can improve their presence and make more money through local SEO.

Check out 16 reasons that prove the importance of local SEO in this Hubspot infographic. Just to mention some of the most noteworthy stats:

  • 60% of Americans use their mobile devices to find more information about local products and services.
  • 78% of local mobile searches result in offline purchases.
  • 71% of the people surveyed said they look up and confirm the location and hours of a business before going to it for the first time.

NAPs are pretty amazing

Not the kind of naps where you go to sleep for 10 minutes and wake up 4 hours later wondering if it’s evening or morning, these NAPs work wonders for your local SEO efforts.

NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone number, and it is critical for businesses that want to rank well in local search results. Search engines, like Google, take this kind of data into account when figuring out which businesses to show in their results.

“Getting an audience is hard. Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.”

– Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen

Think of search engines as “confidence” based. If a search engine is confident enough that a business and its website are going to be able to fulfill the needs of the person searching for a product or service, they will show that website. The more confident the engine is, the higher the website will be showed in the ranking, and we’re going for #1 here.

In order to build this confidence with search engines like Google, businesses must make sure a search engine understands exactly who, what, and where they are. No matter how smart search engines get, they are still algorithm-based, so when they are crawling the web they can and will notice even the slightest differences in a business’s NAP. These variations can “shake” a search engine’s confidence.

What can businesses do with their NAP to boost their local search rankings?

For starters, consistency is key. Make sure that your business’s NAP is correct – on your website as well as on every other site throughout the web where your business is listed. Remember that Google and most search engines will cross-reference your NAP information across several websites as a kind of validation to prove that yours is a legitimate business. The more “local citations” you can build up with consistent NAP information, the better.

Will your business pass the NAP test?

Google (or Bing and/or Yahoo) your business name along with the city it is located in. If you see variances, then your NAP is not consistent. If you don’t see your business, you may not even be listed, and if you haven’t already, you’ll need to claim your Google My Business page.

Taking care of any NAP inconsistencies can be a pain, but it is a critical component for your local SEO. One way to fix it is to go to each and every website your business is listed on, create an account, and change the listing info to the correct one … this option might take you a while.

There are online tools that can help you check and fix your NAP but I would recommend proceeding with caution and double checking the accuracy of their results. Another option could be to hire an SEO agency to take care of this issue as fast and efficiently as possible.

Where should you enter your NAP?

In terms of local SEO, your best bet is listing your business on any reputable directory – especially local directories and industry specific directories. The local chambers of commerce, the Better Business Bureau, social networks like Facebook that generate pages based on searches, Yelp, Foursquare, etc. Bonus: Most of these websites give your business a chance to be reviewed by your happy customers!

The impact online reviews have on your local SEO

Reviews are a powerful marketing tool and they are part of word-of-mouth marketing, still one of the most trusted sources of information.

According to Zendesk’s research report that defines the long term benefits of providing good customer service, respondents are being influenced by online customer reviews when making a buying decision.

“The vast majority of participants who have seen reviews claimed that that information did impact their buying decisions. This was true of both positive reviews (90%) as well as negative reviews (86%).”

Reviews tend to come from a very genuine, authentic place. Your customers don’t just log in to their computers or mobile devices to leave theirs; they feel truly motivated to take the time out of their schedules and give their opinion.

Good reviews will help your business stand out on search engines. They will help you attract more people and get them to check out your business, as they are often featured prominently in search results.

As you may have noticed in Zendesk’s research, having a number of good reviews can make people feel more comfortable doing business with you, so make sure your customers are happy!

Can your potential customers find your business? Is your business’s online presence consistent? Let’s take a NAP test! 8 Signal can help you list your business and optimize your online presence so that you’re on top when people are looking for you. Call us today at (915) 585-1919 or fill out our online form to have one of our local SEO experts get in touch with you.

Photos courtesy of: Nogran s.r.o., kyonokyonokyono.