Local search engine optimization has been gaining momentum. This bears out with the statistic that currently, around 20% of all search is localized search. As more small businesses are going online, they are realizing that their goal is not to reach the world but their next-door neighbors.
One of the better tools for local SEO is Google Places. Formerly known as Local Business Center, Google opened up this platform upon recognizing that “97% of consumers search for local businesses online.” It doesn’t cost anything to be included in Google Places, but you do need to register by adding a profile of your business.
Making some common mistakes when filling out your profile form can have unfavorable consequences on your local SEO campaign, so take time to do it correctly. Here are a few tips.
In the Category field, be specific as to what your business is. If it’s a restaurant, put down “restaurant” instead of “hospitality.” Do not stuff keywords into the Category field, using, for example “restaurant Barbados.” Your geographical location will be evident in your address and putting it in the category field may be regarded by Google as a form of keyword stuffing. Although you are allowed up to five categories per listing, it’s advisable to just use one category. Placing too many categories in one listing may have Google eyeing you for spamming infractions. Your business may have other categories (for example, your restaurant might have a gift shop) – in which case you could add that category as well. Just make sure that all the categories you add in are real and not an effort to stuff keywords.
Use a geographically marked phone number instead of a 1-800 phone number and avoid using PO boxes as your address. A good feature is that you can hide your address from users if it’s not necessary for them to know specifics, but it is still available to Google. Regarding your business name, address, phone number and website, make these consistent throughout every placement you have on the web. Google collects data from other directories, so consistency in the information you give out increases your chances of being deemed trustworthy.
Try to fill out as many of the form fields as possible. There may be information that Google asks for – such as email address, menu, optional attributes/additional details – that doesn’t actually show publicly, but the information you provide helps Google’s system get a better understanding of your business to rank it appropriately when a related search occurs.
Google Places allows you to add or remove photos and videos of your business. Make sure that the photos that appear in your Place Page are complimentary to you. You can also post live updates to your page. Inform people of special sales and promotions or offer coupons. Take advantage of this feature to keep clients coming back to you.
One thing you should remember to do is to get reviewing from as many clients as you can. Do this promptly as people are more apt to give feedback right after they’ve experienced your services. If you don’t get a review immediately after, send them a follow-up email request with a link to where to submit their review. These reviews show up on your Place Page and add trustworthiness to your business.
John Romaine is a freelance SEO consultant, web designer and internet marketer based in Sydney, Australia. John provides small business web marketing consulting, freelance web design and SEO training. To learn more about John’s SEO course, please visit http://www.seotrainingkit.com