People want relevant content when they search.
If you’re looking for a good burger restaurant and the first listings are all from 300 miles away, it really doesn’t help you. That was just one of the many problems searchers had before Google started emphasizing local results in 2013 and releasing major updates in 2014. If you’re site already has on-page optimizations for local results, then there are several things you can do to help your business reach more people.
For most businesses, a fundamental rule is “be where your customers are.” As business owners, we know this and that’s why restaurants only go into certain parts of town and law firms are clustered near the courthouse. Location matters when you have a physical building and it matters for the online representation of your brand.
A website is important and should be the center of all your online activity but a website can’t exist everywhere. Niche sites for local businesses sometimes rank even better than the website itself.
Niche Sites To Build On
Google My Business
If Google provides it, you should use it.
Google My Business allows you to put more information into Google search results, map results, and even your Google+ page. This is often the primary information to appear in search results, particularly for local searches so take advantage of it. Include all ways to contact you, your hours, and your website so they can find out more about you. It’s commonly referred to as NAP information in Local SEO communities – Name, Address, and Phone number.
For those that don’t know, Yelp is the most popular consumer review site out there. It allows you to search for anything from retail shops and restaurants to professional services and see photos, contact information, ratings and reviews. Best of all, it confines the search to the city identified by the searcher. You can claim your business on Yelp if you haven’t already and start to use it to your advantage.
While Google may be the dominant search engine, it’s no reason to ignore the other search engines. Yahoo Local provides local information on businesses much the same way Google does and is prominent when showing search results.
Other local directory sites like Manta, Local.com, SuperPages, CitySearch, City-Data, and MerchantCircle all provide information and can be a source of niche site traffic and possible business. Explore what works for your business. Depending on your industry, other niche sites may work as well (think Angie’s List for professional services or Avvo for lawyers).
Tips For Making The Most Of Your Profiles
These platforms all allow users to leave comments and reviews. Some will be positive reviews and others won’t. The point is you can engage with those unsatisfied customers and keep those comments from becoming a deterrent from using your service. If someone expresses their dissatisfaction with you, engage back. Other people will see it. How you respond can help more than you may realize when people know you are actually listening to what they say.
Encourage reviews to these profiles. You can encourage reviews at your physical location with signs (such as “Review us on Yelp”), through printed material, email blasts to your subscribers/customers/clients, provide a link on your social media accounts and ask for reviews, and by placing a link on your website to the profile you want reviews on. Encouraging reviews from customers will elicit more positive comments that people may not have given and will help your star ratings by preventing the occasional 1 star from affecting your overall rating.
Don’t make a profile and only partially fill out the information.
If someone stumbles on it during a search, you want it to guide people to your door (or phone, website, whatever it may be). Add photos, if the option is available, so people can have a glimpse into your business. If things change in your business, make sure you update all of your listings.
There is no guaranteed strategy for off-page SEO.
Listing your business on any of the local listing sites doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly be vaulted to the top of search results. It does give those searching for local businesses a leg up over those without it. Just remember: fill out the profile completely, engage with commenters, and encourage reviews. A simple strategy but you’ll love the long term results.
What industry are you in and what sites drive the most business for you? Let us know in the comments below!