Top Ranking Tips for Local Businesses

To get high rankings, follow this simple strategy:

  • Optimize your Google Places listing.
  • Build more citations to your site than to your competitors.
  • Make sure your website is optimized for local keywords.
  • Get backlinks every single month to your website (never stop). Get better links to your site than your competitors have to theirs.

How to Optimize Your Google Places Listing

Follow these steps to a highly optimized Google Places listing (this is a fairly technical but effective way to set up your listing):

  • Get 8 photos of your business and save them on your computer.
  • Make a video with your photos at Animoto.com and upload to YouTube.
  • Pick 5 services that you offer - these will be your keywords.
  • Rename your pictures with your keyword + city (ex: Los Angeles Plumber).
  • Determine what your NAP is (name, address and phone number) and use this consistently in everything you do from here on out. (ex: Joe’s Plumbing, 123 Third St. Los Angeles, CA 90800 (310) 555-5555.)
  • Add your business details to Google Places with a website address, hours, service area, payment type accepted and additional services.
  • Add 5 categories. These are your 5 services you offer. One category must be a Google approved category. The rest can be keywords. I do not recommend putting the city in the categories section.
  • In the description, use an easy-to-read summary of your business with light use of keywords. Never mention keywords more than once in a description. Also use the name of your city in the description
  • Upload 8 photos.
  • Go to Panaramio.com and try to find 2 photos that have your city name in the title. Then upload them to your listing. These photos are typically geotagged.
  • Add the YouTube video.
  • Submit and verify your listing.
  • Add 2 or 3 coupons to your listing.
  • Now go back and share an update within your listing. Use keywords in your post.
  • Get at least 5 people to post real reviews to your listing.

Good Luck.

Citations

Citations are defined as "mentions" of your business name and address on other webpages, even if there is no link to your website. An example of a citation might be an online Yellow Pages directory where your business is listed, but not linked to. It can also be a local chamber of commerce or a local business association where your business information can be found, even if they are not linking at all to your website. You may also see the term "web references" used on other websites as synonym for "citations."

It’s important that you use a consistent NAP. NAP is your business’s name, address, and phone number. Establish your NAP and use it consistently throughout your citation building.

Citations are a key component of the ranking algorithms of the major search engines. Other factors being equal, businesses with a greater number of citations will probably rank higher than businesses with fewer citations.

Citations from well-established and well-indexed portals (like Superpages.com for example) help increase the degree of certainty the search engines have about your business's contact information and categorization. Citation help the search engines validate that you are who they thought you were.

The Best Places to Get Citations

  • Local Search Directories: These leading local directories like Superpages, Yelp, Kudzu, Insider Pages and Angie’s List are great places to get citations.
  • Geo-Local Directories: Get listed in directories that mainly focus on your geographic area.
  • Hyperlocal Blogs: These are localized blogs in your community. Add your business listing to these blogs.
  • Industry Focused Blogs or Directories: Find directories that are from your specific industry and add your business.
  • Data Aggregators - Add your business to InfoUSA and Acxiom.

SEO Your Website

There is a lot information on the web about Search Engine Optimization. So, I suggest either taking the time to learn about it or outsource it to a local SEO company that knows what they are talking about. SEO can be quite complex and technical. You are the expert at your job and it might be best to let the experts do the Search Engine Optimization for you.

Nevertheless, here are the basics. Think about writing text on your site that includes your keywords. If your keywords aren't on your website than how is Google going to know that's what you do. Having keywords on your website will help you rank higher in Google. Google reads text and doesn't really care what your site looks like. So make sure your website has plenty of text and sprinkle in your keyword about 1-2% of the time. Make sure you also use your city that your provide services for is in your text. Try to write one page per keyword. Optimize each page for that particular keyword.

Here are some other quick tips:

  • Put your keywords + city + phone number in your title tags. This helps your site rank better and is a major ranking factor. In addition, it will help alert searchers what you do as this is what Google displays as your search result heading. Your phone number might appear in the results also, so customers don’t even have to click into your website to call you.
  • Put your keyword in your H1 tag.
  • Use keywords in your image alt tags.
  • Use anchor text within your text to link to other pages within your site.
  • Link to other sites like industry associations and Wikipedia.

Off Site SEO - Link Building for Local

Again, there is a ton of info on the web about this. But the basic premise is link acquisition. Link acquisition is the art of getting links pointing to your site from highly relevant authority sites. You want to get a variety of links with some “naked links,” which are links that are just the URL itself. Get others using anchor text with your keywords pointing to your website. You want to have about 50% of your links going to your home and the other 50% going to your internal pages.

Getting links can be hard and is better off left to the experts. Local SEO companies can help you acquire links from:

  • Press Release Distribution: A basic SEO plan might start with pumping out 3 or 4 press releases over a 2 month period.
  • Article Marketing: Submit articles using tools like ArticleRanks.com. Submit them so they drip feed every day. Never stop doing this.
  • Forum Posting: Getting links from forums are quite valuable A few every month should work nicely.
  • Blog Commenting: Write comments on blogs with links to your website.
  • Local Directories are a great place to get links.
  • Create profiles and write on web 2.0 sites like Squidoo and Tumblr.

There are many link building strategies and this is just an overview of nice basic plan that would work for most businesses. However, this might be better off left to the experts. It would be wise to commit anywhere from a few hundred dollars to about $1000 a month into link building strategies each month.