Your site is staggering along on page # infinity in Google searches for your business type and town name. Time for some CPR for your SEO. Perform these six emergency procedures recommended by search engine optimization (SEO) experts to show up in Google local business searches – stat!
1. Pick one name, one local address and one local phone number for your business
Google likes to see a consistent name, address and phone (NAP) across the web as a sign that your business is for real. And it likes to see a local street address and phone (including local area code) to be sure it places you in the right spot in maps and in search-return pages that include a town name. So before you do anything else, pick your NAP, write them on a yellow sticky and put it on your computer monitor so you won’t forget.
2. Optimize your website. In other words, make it easy on Google to understand.
A simple site is fine to start, with these minimum elements:
- A “title tag” in the code for the main pages, with your business type, city and state, like “Airport Limos in Denver, CO: Big John’s Car Service”. This is the text (50-60 characters) that Google displays as the title of your listing on a search return page.
- Descriptive language about your products and services.
- Your NAP
Later you should build your site out with images, special offers and the other stuff that makes a good “user experience”, but right now the only user we’re worried about it is Google.
3. Sign up for Google My Business
A key to success on Google is using Google products—who’d a thunk! Enrolling in the Google My Business program gets you a Google+ page, a profile of your business, and appearance in a Knowledge Panel, a mini-profile that appears on search and map pages. First things to do:
- Put some thought into picking the right business category. Google recommends being specific.
- Include the link to your website
- Fill in the contact information with your NAP and business hours
- Verify your ownership of the business with a phone call, post card or through Google Webmaster tools
Later you can trick out your Google+ presence with images (including a virtual tour), fill in your business description, put up blog posts and more.
4. Add or correct your listings (or citations) on the important directory sites
Google also wants to see that your business is listed on the many local directory sites around the web and that your NAP and website address is consistent across those sites. In particular, Google looks for listings (or “citations” if you want to sound like an expert) on high-quality directory sites–so that’s your starting point. All of the following are open for you to claim or create a basic listing for free:
- Yellow Pages, Superpages, DexKnows or other internet yellow pages
- Yahoo! Local
- Better Business Bureau
- Local TV station websites
- Manta or other business directories
- Infogroup and Acxiom, two services that feed listings to many sites
To get started, enter your business name in our listings evaluation tool to see your presence on leading online directories.
Also submit your business for citations on some prestige websites specific to your industry. For instance, Big John should get his car service listed on the Denver International Airport’s directory page for airport limos.
Later, let a “reputation management” service handle these chores. Hundreds of sites around the web list your business, and you probably don’t have the time to be correcting and monitoring them all yourself.
5. Get a few reviews on your Google+ page
SEO experts are pretty sure that Google gives extra weight to reviews on Google+ in ranking local listings so be sure to ask satisfied customers to add reviews to your Google+ page. But take it slowly – too many at once and Google may block them on the suspicion that you are engaging in unethical practices to generate reviews.
Later, encourage your clients to review your business on Yelp, Citysearch, Superpages or the many other sites that publish reviews. Lots of reviews around the web is another signal Google watches for ranking.
6. Make your site mobile friendly
A longer-term but must-do project: Your site may well be buried on Google because it is not coded to automatically adjust for display on mobile devices. Google has made it very clear that’s a requirement to rank well on the mobile version of search.
Test your site for mobile friendliness here (and you need to test each page). If you flunk, you need a new site in “responsive” or “adaptive” design.
Updated May 13, 2016