SEO for Local Businesses
Web marketing for small businesses can be a challenge. If you are a local business owner, you need to optimize the internet opportunities to bring in local customers.
1. Basic listings should be claimed
Dozens of business hub sites such as Google Places, Yahoo or Bing Local, City Search, Yellow Book, or Yelp probably have basic information on your business. Check these, and similar sites, and claim your business. This simply means that you log in and identify yourself as the owner. Then you will be able to update content, which may or may not be accurate. Be sure to check for the location of the marker on the map, to locate it precisely.
2. Add information to existing directories
Complete the basic profiles by adding as much information as is allowed. This might include description of your unique services, pictures, and video. You also want to be sure that the URL for your website is accurate.
Complete and detailed information will increase your business’ page rank within each directory. Backlinks from powerful directory sites are important. Listing a local phone number, rather than a toll-free number, will also improve your standings in local searches. Don’t use the exact same text from one listing to the next. Search engines will penalize listings with duplicate content.
3. Choose your business category with care
It’s important to find keywords that aren’t already locked up by the large businesses. For example, in Google Places when you are asked to add a category, you are really noting the keywords that will lead internet searchers to find your business. If you enter “dentist” under categories you will be competing with every other dentist in your area. If, instead, you enter “cosmetic dentist Philadelphia” or "philadelphia dental implants" your practice will rise to the top of specific searches. Actually, the location name is unnecessary in Google Places, so you might choose to enter a specific category such as “tooth implant dentistry.” In other words, create custom categories where your business will win the race to the top of the search engine return list. Be sure to add as many categories as are allowed. At least one will need to be from a suggested list.
4. Encourage customers to write reviews
If you can get customers to review your business this will also increase your ranking. The number of reviews is critical, and the quality of the reviews may be pertinent as well. Although few people actually remember to write a review, even if they promise to do so, there may be ways to provide incentives, such as coupons, for review writers.
Take advantage of internet opportunities to improve the chances that potential customers will find your local business.