The quick fix isn’t always the most effective route, but when it comes to local SEO, it’s all about knowing which actions to take to benefit your potential patient. If you’re a local business, local SEO is important to your online marketing strategy. Whether you focus on organic, paid, or content marketing, your website and online presence needs to be optimized locally. Your potential patients are within a certain proximity to your brick and mortar business. Ignoring local SEO is like running a practice without a postal address. Your patients will rarely be able to find you, and you probably won’t get any mail. Your business address is just as important online as it is offline.
Below you’ll find 3 actions you can take this week to begin cleaning up your local SEO:
1. Setup and/or claim your Google + Business Listing
You’ll need to decide how you want your address to look online. Yes, this is important, and the internet is just as sensitive as the USPS when it comes to sorting. Your address needs to be consistent and accurate across all entities it appears on.
For example, here’s MDPM’s citation:
MDPM Consulting, 1725 E. Southlake Blvd., Suite 101, Southlake, Tx 76092, (972) 781-8861
Now here’s an example of how the same citation can be considered inconsistent:
MDPM Consulting, 1725 East Southlake Blvd., Suite 101, Southlake, Tx 76092, (972) 781-8861
The only change is from an “E.” to “East.” Data aggregates, search engines, and business listing sites are sensitive enough to mark this as inconsistent. So you’ll need to decide how you want your Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) to appear online before you submit it.
Now that you have your citation determined, move forward with setting up, or claiming, your already existing Google + Business Page.
Once your page is setup/claimed, make sure and complete the following to get the most out of your page locally:
- Choose a category that best fits your business and/or service offered
- Completely fill out your profile
- Add photos of your business, employees, and products (if applicable)
- Include local based keywords in your page description
- Add your current business hours (remember to keep these updated if they change in the future)
2. Establish your citation (name, address, phone number) online
Listing sites on the web want to show your name, business address, and phone number (NAP) to users. You’ll want to add, update, or change your citation on those listing sites. The first place you should start is with the main data aggregates. These data “centers” push out your business information (citation) to smaller listing sites for verification and/or updates.
The first step is to submit to the main data aggregates so that your correct and consistent information is being pushed out to all the other listing sites. Here are the main aggregates online: Factual, Acxiom, Localeze, and Infogroup.
To help move this process along a little quicker and complete the second step, you can also use a service like CitationBurst from BrightLocal to submit to the data aggregates and the other local and general business listings or directories. This will help speed up the “clean up/update/addition” process of your citation.
3. Add Schema (data markup) to your site
Although Schema is not an official ranking factor, it does encourage users to engage with your SERP listing(s) more than other sites that do not use data markup. Search engines determine if your site is allowed to show more than just a link, description, and URL on a SERP (search engine results page).
You have the opportunity with search engines to show your link, description, URL, and other page URLs all in one listing if you use Schema on your site. Take the time to do some general data markup around your site for your NAP, Navigation/page architecture, and other business information, if not for the ranking, then for the SERP reality.
The more you can offer your user up front, the better chance you have to engage them and gain their trust that your site has what they’re searching for.
Here’s how you can optimize your site, or at least your homepage, for local, too:
- Your title tag needs to have your business name and keyword in it. Make sure your title length is under 65 characters.
- If you have a different H1 than your title tag, make sure your keyword is in your H1.
- Within your content, you need to focus on your keyword and adding value to the user who is searching for information surrounding that keyword.
- If you have any images on the homepage, make sure they are locally optimized with “city, state” “business name,” or “keyword phrase” added to the alt text.
Bonus: add/markup your site NAP
If you haven’t already added your name, address, and phone number to your site, get to it. Add this information to the header or the footer of your site, so it’s on every single page. Also, you will want to markup the NAP on your site.
Looking for Schema markup text? Check out Schema.org for more information.
If you’re working with multiple locations on one website, you’ll want to create a new page, one for each of your locations. You’ll want to add the location specific NAP to their correlating pages. You’ll want to markup the NAP with Schema.
You may be wondering, how do I add that many addresses to the header of my site? You don’t. Typically, a website with multiple locations chooses one location as “corporate” and uses that, if one has not been denoted. However, if you have multiple locations, it’s not necessary to add the address to the header or footer and optimize the individual pages for each location.
Now that you’re aware of at least four ways to optimize your business online locally, you can move forward with pursuing a mandatory part of your online marketing strategy. People spend a lot of time online. So remember, not offering your business information online in a consistent, accurate manner means you’re losing potential patients where they spend most of their time–on the internet. The overarching goal to local SEO is to help your potential patient find you with little to no effort–starting with your Name, Address, and Phone number.