How to Optimize Your Local Listings for SEO

  •    Kelly is a freelance SEO consultant based out of Washington D.C. She has worked for Philadelphia marketing agencies and writes for several lifestyle sites.

As a small business owner, Google’s algorithm updates over the last few years work in your favor. Google wants to make search more personalized, conversational, and most importantly, more local-focused. Both Google Maps listings and local directories have started moving up in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for regional-based queries.

While this is a definite advantage that helps customers in your service area find you online, it also means you’ll have to alter your SEO strategy to adapt. Before you start implementing any changes, it’s important to define your target area, even down to the zip code. Whether you have a brick and mortar store or service many cities, you’ll want a defined list of neighborhoods to optimize for.

Once you have your local targets set, your next step should be a thorough strategy to build out your online business listings. Here are a few tips to optimize these listings for local SEO:

Create Local Profiles

There are hundreds of local directories and optimizing for all of them will take time, but you should start with the biggest and best-ranked: Google My Business, Yelp, Yahoo, YellowPages, and social media accounts like Facebook and LinkedIn. Once you’ve created profiles on the top sites, you can work your way down a list like this one to continue building your local presence or try use an app like Site Booster to automate publishing across many different listing sites.

NAP Consistency is Key

Your NAP (name, address, and phone number) should be consistent across the web, from local listings to your website. Not only does this help your customers find or contact you, but Google uses NAP uniformity to confirm your location for search results. Using a local number in your NAP can also signal your location to the search engines.

Optimize Your Business Information

Once your profiles are created and verified, you can further optimize for local search results by adding details. Photos, categories, and a keyword-rich business description are all great starting points to build out your listings. Over time, you can also add videos, coupons and deals, hours of operation, and any other pieces of information that will help your customers find and choose you for your products or services.

Manage Your Reputation

Online reviews are a small but important part of Google’s local algorithm, so you’ll want to implement a review and response strategy for your local listing sites. Not only will this help your local ranking, but it can also build trust and goodwill with potential and returning customers. Online engagement through these listing sites can produce lifelong customers and loyalty.

In our post-Pigeon world, it’s vital for small businesses to build a local strategy that focuses on local business listings. Your website may be your biggest sales tool, but it will likely rank behind sites like Google Maps and Yelp for local search queries.

Following these tips is a great place to start. You can also take your local SEO a step further by building out your social media profiles with these helpful articles: