Since somewhere between 70 and 80% of search engine users ignore paid ads in favor of organic results, search engine optimization is a vital part of increasing website traffic and drawing in customers. Boosting a business in local rankings, however, requires some specialized techniques. Last week, Entrepreneur released its list of the five most common errors people make in local SEO efforts. Too often, Neil Patel writes for the magazine, people either stick to basic SEO techniques that aren’t locally focused or forget the most basic elements of building local credibility.
“All the conventional SEO techniques and enhancements receive a complete makeover when viewed in the light of local SEO,” he writes. Why do these things matter? “A local business depends on local SEO,” as Patel points out. Here are the two major areas of local SEO small businesses should keep in mind when working on local SEO or choosing a local SEO company:
One of the most important factors in local SEO is getting a business’ NAP (name, address and phone number) into various local listings. But what many small businesses miss is that listings must be perfectly identical. Even a misplaced apostrophe, such as in Taylors Market versus Taylor’s Market, can cause confusion. While entering consistent information isn’t difficult — only time consuming — businesses often fail to update all their listings when they make changes to their business information (ranging from anything from a new address to a new 800 number).
A survey cited in Patel’s article highlights the disconnect between businesses’ intentions and practices: 85% of small businesses say that local ranking is important to them, but only 50% have updated all their online listings. Even among the half who know about their inaccurate listings, 70% say they don’t have the time to revise them.
If a business doesn’t have the time to submit and update identical listings, then it’s best to hire a local SEO company that can check on the consistency of all listings and keep them up to date.
Most Internet marketing companies know that quality content is the most important factor in bringing in new business. In general, blogging is the best way to present content (websites with a blog have, on average, 434% more indexed pages). But for local SEO, that content might come in different forms. In fact — although it’s always recommended that a business maintain a well-designed website — some businesses are able to thrive from local factors alone. As Patel writes, this works because “Your customers are using your place page or social-media page as your de facto website.”
For this reason, it’s extremely important to maintain social media pages relevant to a business’ industry. It’s also important to encourage user reviews on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Foursquare.
It’s good to keep in mind that even the best SEO company may focus on a company website, neglecting these important factors, if it doesn’t have experience in local SEO. Remember, 70% of the links customers click on are organic, which means that specialization is key.
Do you have any other tips on choosing between SEO company services and finding the best local SEO company? Join the discussion in the comments.