Ranking well with the Search Engine Local Business Listings

For brick and mortar businesses, businesses that have a physical address and or cater to people in a specific city or region, local search engine optimization can be one of the most cost effective forms of SEO. The search engines, with Google taking the lead are putting increasing focus on showing results based on a city or region whenever possible. Local Search means that the businesses that rank on top of the search engine results for a person searching from one city will not rank as well for a person located and searching from another city.

While optimizing for local search is similar to normal SEO there are several key differences and extremely important steps that need to be taken.

Business Address on website: First step in local search optimization is having an address on the website. One way is to set up a contact us page. But to be sure that Google local searches rank your site well it is best to have your basic contact info on the bottom of each page. Even if it is just a simple “serving Sacramento California”, although having a full address is better. Google is quite capable of recognizing addresses and this helps them to know for sure what area you are serving and what local searches you should be listed on.

On this note though, it is best to have only one address on each landing page. Multiple addresses tends to confuse the search engines, not knowing which if any of them are your businesses address. If your business has addresses in multiple cities it might be best to have a different landing page for each city.

Sign up for Google Places: Google Places is where you can give Google your business information. You will need to have a local phone number for Google to call your business and confirm it is a local business. It is good to completely fill out all of the information requested. The more information you give on your business the more likely you will have good results from the listing. You can sign up for Google Places Here places.google.com/business.

As part of the sign up you will give the search engine a landing page on your site where visitors will be directed to. An address within the area you are adding your site to in Google place should be on the landing page, likewise a telephone number with a local area code should be somewhere on the page. While this isn't a requirement, this is very usefull in helping your site to rank well.

After signing up it is also good to encourage people to write reviews of your business. Google appears to give preference in the Google Local Listings for businesses with good reviews.

Ranking higher in Local Listings

Once you have completed these two steps and Google has completed your registration, you will likely start showing somewhere in the Google Local Business listings, probably several pages deep if there are a lot of competitors for your business. Like other forms of SEO raising your site in the local results takes links. But you should have a particular focus to this link building campaign.

Local Links: Find other sites that are considered local by Google and try to get links from them. Some good examples are Chambers of Commerce, local groups and organizations, as well as other local businesses that are optimized for your city.

Local Link Text: You also need to have links pointing to your site that uses the city or region you are trying to target. Make sure that the City or region name is found frequently in incoming backlinks. This helps associate your site with that city.

Additional Local Search Tips

You can also use Google Hotpot to rate sites. They also give you 10 “Best Ever” votes that you can rank sites with. Writing reviews also helps give you credibility. Try writing reviews on other local businesses that you like.

Be sure your site is included in other sites that list or review sites by location like Yelp.

As with all SEO, improving your local search listing takes time. But the sooner you start the sooner your business will sit on top of your competitors!