Any business, be it online or brick and mortar, needs to start developing locally. By taking over the local market, you will set the base for something much bigger. Every business owner has a single goal – global domination in the industry. To become big, you need to start small. Search engine optimization (SEO) is one way of increasing your online presence. Again, you’ll need to start locally. Local SEO is essential to getting your business on the map, so don’t forget to invest time and money in it.

What Is Local SEO?

In the simplest terms, it’s about using search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) to find products and services offered by various businesses, including yours. But, why is it important to you? According to the latest marketing statistics, nearly 72% of the customers looking for local businesses will visit them during the day. More importantly, around 46% of all searches made on Google seek local information.

If you’re a business owner who still hasn’t found a way to take it to the next level, it’s probably because people can’t find you online. If you need another reason why it’s so important, know this – all your competitors have already taken advantage of local SEO and are making profits from your potential customers. You are nowhere to be seen online, while their businesses appear on the first page of every search engine. So, how can you increase your local SEO rankings and start getting more sales?

Google My Business

First and foremost, you need to get your business listed on Google. It’s completely free to use, and it’s easy to set up. Placing your company on Google’s map won’t do any harm whatsoever, so make sure to complete this before you continue.

How to add your business to Google Maps? Just visit Google My Business, and click the ‘manage now’ button located in the upper right corner. Next, you’ll need to log in with an email address, so make sure to use your company’s email for this, for future usage. Find your company’s name in case it was auto-generated by the online community. If it doesn’t exist, i.e. can’t be found, there’s an ‘Add your business to Google’ option below the search bar. Finally, all you need to do is follow the final steps, such as choosing a business category, physical location, and other contact details.

Bing Places For Business

With Bing, there are two options, one for existing business owners and another one for new users. Since you’re probably a new user, select the ‘get started and claim your business’ option to the right. Next, you can either import all the company’s details from Google My Business account, or claim/add it manually. If you choose the second option, Bing will require more information about the company such as size, country, and region, etc.

It’s important to know that Bing Places for Business currently works only in the following countries, so make sure you are a resident in any of these before you continue with the process.

  • South/North/Central America: USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina
  • Europe: Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Ireland, UK, Spain
  • Asia, Australia & Oceania: Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Japan, China

Using Bing, you follow the same steps as in Google My Business, so make sure the exact information is present on both accounts so that people won’t make a mistake and visit another location. It also allows every search engine to identify the information as the same everywhere, creating an accurate location for all visitors.

Factors That Affect Your Local SEO Ranking

You need to know a few things before starting to increase your online presence. Combined, the factors listed below might largely affect the local SEO ranking of your business, making it a favorite of appearing in the top search results.

  • Keywords in your business listing. Any products and services you provide, make sure to include in your ‘Google My Business’ listing. This way, it’s easier to get ranked higher in local searches, because your online presence and awareness are defined by how you describe whatever it is you provide to customers.
  • Business reviews. First, get as many business reviews as possible. The more you have, the higher the authority your business will have online. For example, if you have 125 5-star reviews and your main local competitor has 24 4-star reviews, your business will appear first in results.
  • Business reviews and star rating. Next, you need to kindly ask all your customers a few questions, leading them to leave a free review on your Google business listing. Ask them something personal at first, then continue by accepting any criticism on your account. If they are completely satisfied, tell them how leaving a positive review on Google can help you and your business provide better customer support and improve your products and services. Rest assured, a lot of them would agree and do it within 24 hours. Naturally, 5-star reviews are much more valuable than anything else, but be ready for anything, even negative reviews by competitors. If you have enough positive reviews, however, they won’t be able to disrupt the positive opinion of customers in general.
  • Social media mentions and shares. You can, of course, ask customers if they can like/follow your business on social media, which means to spread the word to other people. Most SEO experts agree that extending your online presence on social media can only provide a boost to your overall SEO presence. Asking every satisfied customer to share your page on their profile would help even more.
  • NAP citations. NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone (Number). At all times, these three need to be in the exact order. No matter if it’s on your company website, Facebook business page, Google, or Bing company page, it needs to appear in the same order the same everywhere. See the example below to get a clear picture.

Company ABC
123 Sunset Blvd., Pacific Palisades, CA 90272, United States
+1 234-567-8901

Wrapping It Up With Backlinks

Now that you know more about the basics of local SEO, you can improve it with tons of backlinks. Backlinks are textual content providing a link back to your company’s website or address. They can be inserted wherever there’s a need for them. However, these links strengthening your business’ SEO ranking aren’t as naive as it first seems. Thus, it’s best to leave it to professionals and hire an agency for the more technical part. This guide is helpful, gives ideas, and will most likely make a difference in your local SEO. However, for more skillful tasks, it’s best to invest in hiring professionals.

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