So you’re looking for an accountant or a solicitor (or any other service) in your area? What’s the first thing you do? If you’re anything like me (and millions of other people) you’ll open your favourite web browser and head straight to Google and search for something like “Solicitor in Stoke on Trent”. You’ll then be shown a results page similar to the one below:
What you are seeing in the screenshot above is Local SEO in action. The businesses that are ranking in the map listing at the top, and also in the organic listings below it aren’t there by pure coincidence. Some of them may not have been intentionally trying to achieve this, but happen to have been doing the right things by chance.
The benefits to this are obvious. Not only is it nice to have your brand appear in the map listing and organic searches when someone looks for your service or industry in your area for branding purposes, but it is also great from the perspective of gaining new customers.
So how do I achieve this?
- Claim your Google Business listing – Creating a Google business page is as easy as visiting Google’s dedicated site for this and signing up. You will first be asked to enter the name of your business. One of two things will happen once you have done this. One is that there may already be a listing for it, and if this is the case, you must claim it. The other thing is that it won’t already be there and you will have to create the page.
- Categorise your business – During the creation of your business page you will be asked to enter the category of your business. You must pay careful attention to the categories you put your business in, as this has a large effect on what your business and website will show for. Once you have selected your primary category, you will be able to then pick another 9 categories for your business. Go ahead and choose ones that are relevant.
- Consistency is key – You must make sure that your business is listed exactly the same across the internet. Your business name, address and phone number (NAP) needs to be consistent to what is listed on your business listing and your website. This is incredibly important. If you would like tips on creating citations and where you can get them, check out our guide to citations for Local SEO.
- Quality AND quantity – Both the quality of citations and the quantity of citations your business has plays a large part in getting your business listed in the local map listings. Try to get your business listed on websites that are relevant in your geographical area first. You don’t even need a link to your website for citations to work.
- Get reviews – You may have noticed that Google often showcase reviews in the results pages. There isn’t a great deal you can do to improve these, except for providing a great service to your customers. One way to get more reviews, though, is to ask for them! Ask customers that you know have enjoyed what you have provided to leave you a review on your business listing – it will literally take them minutes. You could also add it to your email signatures and to the signatures of your staff.
- Website optimisation – Once you have completely optimised your local business listing, you need to make sure your website is optimised, containing geographical references where possible. This will allow you to rank better in the organic search listings.
- Quality inbound links – Possibly the biggest single factor for ranking is the quality of links to your website. Gaining high quality relevant links to your website is a proven way to help your website rank higher in the organic search results.
- Hire a quality SEO Company – While all of these steps can be taken in-house, SEO never stops. It’s not something that you can set and forget as there is always work to be done due to how the search world is evolving. If you decide that you don’t have time, or feel your time would be spent better on other things for your business, an SEO company will be able to achieve all of this for you and more.