Local SEO (LSEO) is a different breed from “regular” search engine optimization (SEO). Yes, they share the same lineage, but there are different approaches, tactics, and best practices to consider. Start with the fact that the accuracy of your online listings is crucial—if your address, hours, phone number, or other details are wrong, your LSEO is wrong. Focus on your “NAP,” which is name, address, and phone number. In some circles, you’ll see it called NAP+W, adding website into the mix, but that takes away from the cuteness factor of the acronym.
According to a survey by ConstantContact, 85 percent of all small businesses think it’s crucial that they’re searchable with local directories and apps—but just 50 percent of them update their NAP. In fact, 50 percent of those surveyed admit they “know” listings are inaccurate, but the main reason they haven’t fixed it? A shocking 70 percent said there’s no time. According to Moz, a bad business address is the number one negative factor for LSEO.
If you’re focusing on LSEO, you’re focusing on local search engines. These engines utilize NAP as a way to tell just how accurate a business’ existence is. This means data must align perfectly. For example, if you own Bob’s Big Bites but someone queries “Bobs’ Big Bites” (a single apostrophe is off), then it might be a red flag that your local business has an incorrect NAP. You need to read as legitimate, which requires NAP to align in every possible landscape.
You also need to “take consistent NAPs”, making sure that in all citations, listings, directories, and mentions, your business displays the same way. For example, your Google+ and Yelp information need to align, and they should also be the same as your listing on any small business associations and the like. Of course, your business data will change—maybe you’ll adopt a new email address, move, or add an 800 line.
Sound like a lot of work to keep up? It is, which is why it’s almost always best to hire an LSEO professional.
Small businesses can’t just “make sure” they’re listed in all local directories, but have to make sure all fields are fully completed. This is a boring job that takes a lot of legwork and time. However, it’s a must. According to research from Local Search Association/Burke Inc., consumers demand to see as much information as possible in local directories. They gauge your professionalism by it.
You also need to ensure your social media accounts aren’t just active, but with as many fields completed as possible. In fact, you don’t even need a website as a small business to thrive—but you at least need a solid social media presence with LSEO highlights. Just remember that if you don’t have a website, your customers (and potential customers) see your social media presence as a substitute.
That’s What They Said
Finally, don’t forget about positive reviews and hyperlocal SEO. Should you beg for reviews? No—but you can certainly encourage reviews from customers. You can even motivate them by offering discounts, freebies, etc. in exchange for a review (just make sure you don’t demand a positive review!). LSEO taps into reviews just as much as your website and social media.
And if you want to go hyperlocal? You definitely need professional support. While Google has “suggested” they’re checking out neighborhood algorithms, there’s nothing official yet. However, if you do business in a key neighborhood, it’s worth using those keywords and themes along with more general local information and LSEO.