How to Develop a Local SEO Strategy in 2014

If you’re running a local business, the fact is that you need a strong local SEO strategy in place. Unfortunately, very few small and medium business understand and realize the importance of doing so.

Small business might have a strong online presence and perhaps even a strong SEO strategy in place, however going local and having a local SEO strategy in place could help deliver the most highly targeted consumers to both the business’s website and to its physical business location.

Ultimately, local SEO will be instrumental in delivering high local rankings in the search engines, and really give these businesses the kick they may really need.

The great thing about going local with your SEO strategy is that many of it’s key elements are quite easy to set-up. Here are a few strategies and tips that small business could employ when it comes to developing a local SEO strategy:

1. Start with Google Places

Setting up Google Places for your business is key, and should be the first thing that you do when it comes to setting up your local SEO strategy. Signing up for Google Places is quick, easy and free. Once done, your small business will start showing-up on the internet, in Google Search, Google Maps, G+, mobile devices, and in the local search engine results. You’ll be able to give your customers the right information about your business by updating your contact information, hours and more, connect with them, and give them the right information about your business by providing them your contact information, business hours, location, services provided and more.

The key, however, is to be as detailed and thorough as possible when signing up for Google Places and filling out the information about your business. The more information you provide, the higher (and quicker) Google will rank your business.

Other places to list your website on are Yahoo! Local and Bing Places.

2. Google+ is Good Too

Yes, Google+ tends to take a backseat when it comes wot developing a social media strategy for businesses, however the fact is that it is a powerful social media that will help your business rank well on Google! For small and medium businesses, Google+ can provide significant benefits and gains particularly in terms of SEO – even though it may not guarantee many direct leads (for obvious reasons) – so make sure you have a small business page for your business on G+.

3. Get Reviews

Reviews are important, especially on your Google+ and Google Places pages. Ask and encourage your clients and customers to leave you reviews, and work towards getting reviews in any way you can. In addition, make sure that you have a profile on places such as Yelp and a Facebook business page, and work towards getting reviews on these sites and places as well. Positive customer reviews on local business pages and websites could really provide you with significant gains in terms of local SEO, but you’ll have to work for it.

You’ll need to spread the word and encourage customers to leave you feedback. For instance you could launch a promotion, which involves giving something away every time a customer leaves you feedback on one of your pages. Or you could do a once-a-week newsletter that is emailed to your email list. This newsletter could include information about your business, it’s services, special promotions, activities, and other things, and could also include a link to leaving a review.

4. Get Yourself Listed on Directories

… but avoid the crappy ones. Find and use some of the more popular and better directories out there, ones where you would actually expect your customers and clients to find you. A few good places to start would be Local.comYell, YellowPages. Not only should your business be listed on these directories, but you should also work on getting reviews here.

Your focus however should be directories which have a reputation of being the best (and there are plenty of them out there). Avoid directory-submission services at all costs. Doing so should provide you with some real boost in local rankings and better search-engine visibility.

In addition, make sure that all business details (such as business address/location, phone numbers/contact details, etc) is the same on all of the places – including places pages, G+ listing, directory listing and of course your website. Because Google takes all these into consideration when determining the credentials and authority of  a local listing. Your ranking and visibility could depend on whether Google deems this information as credible, so make sure that you don’t give Google’s bots any reason to doubt it.

5. Keyword Optimization

Remember, good on-page SEO for your website will still help you rank well locally. Good keyword research is essential here. Identify keywords that will allow you to rank better locally (name of city, landmarks, places and other ‘local’ terms relevant to your business), and make sure your website is properly optimized using these keywords – including titles, meta information, images, and so on.

In addition, it is essential for your business to have a proper Contact Us page, complete with all contact details including address, numbers, emails, and preferably a Google Maps image for your business.