“How do I make my business appear on the first page of Google?” has become, quite frankly, one of the most frequently asked questions that I get from my friends and clients. For many of them, the very answer to the question of how to get on the first page of Google means new prospects and leads. Although most local business owners do understand the importance of being visible to the local population, many are still intimidated by local SEO.
Local SEO is a technique that is designed to bring your business name and website in front of people (consumers) that are physically located near it. If you own a business that gets some or all of its clients locally, you should consider local SEO. It could be a local coffee shop, a retail outlet, doctor, dentist or lawyer, or even a plumber. And if you are an owner of one or more of these businesses with brick–and-mortar locations, you can be certain that your business will prevail and perish by foot traffic. Let’s take a look at how you can bring your local business to the top of a search engine results page (SERP).
Search engines function just like the good old yellow pages . Making your business appear on the first page of Google is all about making sure that the results it provides for your searches are really relevant to your local business. For example, maybe you are in Charlotte North Carolina and you are looking for a Charlotte SEO company. The results are not going to show you search results for local SEO companies in New York. They are going to show you local search results for Charlotte SEO companies. You can follow three easy steps on your local business website to make sure that your website shows up at the top of search engine results when people are looking for what you provide in that specific geographic location.
1. Have a Verified Physical Location for Local Business
A lot of businesses have multiple addresses. They may have a physical address, as well as a mailing address at a post office box. Google puts more emphasis on a physical geographic address than on a mailbox address. So if you have multiple addresses, one of the first things you would want to do is make sure that on your website you are using the address that represents where your business is actually physically located. At times, you might get something like a UPS store address, or a mailbox address, or even a virtual office. Google sees those, and not so surprisingly does not trust them. If you use one of these types of addresses, you actually run the risk of being penalized in certain areas by Google, and that would not be good for your business. So, you would want to make sure that the address you are using is consistent throughout your website. You can have your other addresses as well, but you will have to make clear that your main address is being used as the physical address. Local relevance is what Google is specifically looking for. One of the things that Google does is it pulls other information about your company from publicly available data sources. There are a lot of databases out there on the internet that maintain information about you and your local business. This information may be gathered when you register with the secretary of state, or if you form an LLC or a corporation. It can also be information that Google gathers about your business from your filing with the county that you live in, or with the city or municipality. When you register your local business in various places, a lot of these pieces of information are pulled from those databases. Google looks at that information and compares it to what you are telling about your local business through your website. When there is a match, it trusts it. When it finds something that doesn’t match, Google views it with skepticism. In some cases, a mismatch can actually get your business in trouble with Google. I will be showing you how to do local SEO for your business with multiple locations in another article.
2. Getting a Landline Phone
Do you intend to improve your local SEO, so that your business shows up well for local searches in your area? If so, you definitely need a phone number for your local business. Lots of businesses have more than one phone number, and sometimes for advertising purposes, it is actually a best practice to have more than one phone number. You can have one that you used on billboards, another phone number you used on a television commercial, another one for the yellow pages, and many more. With all those different numbers, you will be able to track and see the different outcomes from all the advertising channels. You are able to determine the best and the worst performers. This is a great idea for certain types of advertising, but when it comes to internet marketing, and involves the success of your business website, the phone number that you have used on your website should be your primary business phone number. As I mentioned earlier, Google is going to be comparing what it knows about your business from other data sources with what you are telling it on your website. So you want to make sure that the phone number on your website is associated with your physical address. Ideally, it is going to be a landline. I know that virtual phone numbers are dirt cheap, some are even free, but Google doesn’t trust those to the same degree. It does trust a landline phone number. When you use a landline phone number on your website, Google finds that it’s able to easily match that up with what it’s able to see about your business elsewhere.
3. Geo Tagging Photos and Videos
Standing out with Local SEO takes time and effort. When you search for coffee in your town, you want to get results for nearby coffee shops. If you go to another town, the results should reflect that location. This is done with a coding technique known as Geo Tagging, also written as Geo-Tagging or GeoTagging.
Geo tagging is simply putting a geographic identifier on certain media files. When you take a picture, your camera stores certain information called Meta information. This includes information about when that picture was taken, the date and time it was taken, the camera that was used, and various camera settings. If it’s a Smartphone camera, it will have GPS in it and that will include a geographical identifier, which is very specific latitude and longitude detail. This allows you to look for the exact location where the photograph was taken. It can also be done for videos as well. When you upload your favorite videos to YouTube, VIMEO or various other video sharing sites, they will allow you to tell them where exactly that video was filmed. Now, let’s say you are in Charlotte, North Carolina, and you sell certain products, which you have pictures of on your website. Or perhaps you are in the service business, and you have photographs of some of your clients on your website. For something of this nature, if you have these photographs or videos, you are able to tag where these pictures or videos were actually taken. Google is able to look for that information specifically when it’s looking at your website. Photos also show up in many SERPs, often at the very top. If you geo-tag your images, it will help search engines to determine which images should show up on that SERP.
Once You’ve Implemented these Steps for Local SEO, Keep it Up
When you do these steps correctly, Google finds a correlation . Your physical address, your phone number and the Geo tagging with pictures and videos, provide invaluable cross-matched data to what Google is precisely looking for. When these converge, Google sees that your local business has a very strong connection with that local area, and ultimately you will start seeing positive ranking movements in your local market area. But remember, local SEO is like hygiene — it’s not a matter of cleaning things up just once, but it must be an ongoing process.