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Local SEO For The Small Business Owner Short On Time

Hey, small business owner!

You’ve got stuff to do today. Stuff that has to do with YOUR business. Not things that have to do with increased local search rankings.

I get it. You do your business and I’ll do mine.

So here’s the deal. There are a ton of ultimate guides out there with every gory detail about every aspect of local search. This ain’t one.

You need plain english, actionable items that any business owner can do that would have a big impact on your local rankings. And you need them now!

I nailed down 6 points that you could execute over the next week that will help you rank better locally. They take 15-30 minutes each day to do.

You interested? You’re dang right you are!

Let’s run over the 6 steps, broken out into days, that can help you rank better in Google today!

 

Day 1: Tweak Your Google+ Local Listing

Time: 15 minutes(ish)

Have you claimed your listing yet? Yes? Great! If not you better do that now.

 

Ok, now that you’ve got control of it let’s run over some best practices:

  • Make sure you are using your official business name in the business name field.

  • Make sure you’re using your accurate address and local phone number.

  • Have a suite number? Put it on address line 2.

  • Write a good description of your business:

    • Knock out a quick bio that describes what you do.

    • Use the bold, italic, and bullet points.

    • Link back to one page on your site.

    • Don’t try to stuff keywords in there. Just write a natural description about your business.

  • Add 5 photos of your building, products, and/or services.

No pictures on hand to add? We’ve got you covered.

Pull out your phone and snap away. Here are some ideas for what to shoot:

  • company vehicle

  • store front

  • waiting room

  • staff

  • products

  • a selfie!

  • business complex

  • you with a valued client

  • you doing an upside down beer bong

  • ski the swiss alps? shoot it!

Feel free to get creative!

Got that done? Perfect!

Go ahead and get back to your day.

Don’t forget to bookmark this page or set up a reminder for tomorrow!

 

Day 2: Improve Your Homepage

Time: 15 to 30 minutes(ish)

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Don’t go running off. This is pretty easy to do.

If you have access to your site then great. If not, no worries, you can still get this done.

I’m sure you already have some text on your homepage about what you do and why you do it. But what you need to do is take it to a whole… ‘notha… level…

Here’s what this looks like…

  • Go into more detail on your services and products.

  • Add more details on your company, its history, why you’re the best, how you treat your customers, and why you love what you do.

  • Link to relevant pages in your site from here.

  • Add this new content to your site (if you have the ability) or save it to a word doc to send to your web developer.

While you’re at it, add some of those photos you took yesterday for your Google+ Listing.

If you aren’t comfortable uploading these things to your site then shoot it over to your webmaster.

Day 3: Update Home Page Title Tag & Add Schema

Time: 15 to 30 minutes(ish)

This is a fun one. A lot of local businesses overlook this feature of SEO and you can make some quick wins here.

What you need to do is take a little self-business inventory.

What is your one main service or product that people love and know you by?

Perhaps you’re a personal injury attorney. Maybe you’re the best place in town to get Chinese food. Remove dents from cars?

After you have nailed down your specific service write it down on paper and let’s craft your home page title tag.

Here are three examples:

  1. (Town) Personal Injury Lawyer – Abe Lincoln Attorney Offices

  2. Best Chinese Food In (Town) – Cal-Wa Kitchen

  3. Dent King – Automotive Dent Removal In (Town)

See how that works? Great!

Important tips to keep in mind:

  • Include your business name, a keyword, and your town.

  • Keep it under 60 characters.

  • Don’t stuff it with keywords.

Now you can update your home page title tag yourself or send the word doc with your title tag to your web developer so they can do that for you.

Next you’ll need to add some schema mark-up to your homepage as well…

Wait, ski where?

My mom’s a what?

Don’t let this word intimidate you. Google loves big words. This is just a mark-up language that helps the search engines identify where you are and what you do.

Bonus: You don’t even need to know how to code to do this.

Head to this tool and add your official business name, address, and phone number.

After it spits out the code, copy and paste it into your homepage or the footer on your site.

Again, if you’re not sure how to do this save the code on a word doc and shoot it over to your webmaster.

Day 4: Get Some Reviews

Time: 15 to 30 minutes(ish)

You’ve got some of the basics of local seo down. But…you need some reviews!

 

Love it or hate it, Yelp is the review site of the current time. Note: you cannot directly ask for reviews on Yelp so I’m going to show you how to passively let people know you’d like one.

You’ll need to have claimed your Yelp profile already for this step to work. Here’s the link to claim your business listing if you haven’t already.

Find the specifics on how to get your Yelp badge. Then place the provided code on the homepage or the contact page. In the footer or the header file. The choice is yours but it needs to be visible on your site.

Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges. Well, actually, turns out you do.

You’ll also need real world visibility for your Yelp account, so let’s get a sticker for the front door!

  • Fill out this form to have a sticker sent to you.

  • When the sticker shows up, slap it on the window or door that sees the most traffic in any given day.

But what if I’m service based?

Ah, take heart my lamb.

If you’re service based then you most likely have a nice database of emails and a service that you use to communicate with those people.

If you don’t then I advise you do one of two things 1) Start one today. Like, right now!!! 2) Curl up in the fetal position and get a good long cry out. Then go start one.

Here’s a super easy script you can copy and paste into your email after you login to your email provider:

        Subject: We’re On Yelp!

        Body: Hey! We wanted to let you know we’re on Yelp!

        We just went and updated/customized our Yelp account.

        Go take a look and let us know how you like it. Maybe you could upload a picture of a           project we did for you? No pressure though 🙂

        P.S. We enabled the chat function so you can ask us questions privately and we’ll                   respond! So cool, right?

        Have a great day!

Shoot that puppy off and monitor your Yelp account over the next week to see what shows up. Don’t be afraid to hit the list again in a couple of weeks to remind people that you looooove Yelp.

Notice I didn’t touch on Google?

Well, there’s a reason for that, which I’ll explain at the end of this article. But, for now, you can get some easy Google reviews that will really help your rankings with this link if you’d like to start there instead.

Not everyone is willing to put up with Yelp, after all.


Day 5: Collect Some Citations

Time: 15 minutes to 2 weeks to 1 months(ish)

You’re starting to really get into the nitty gritty of local seo.

Building citations can eat up a lot of time. But you don’t have to claim ALL the citations, you just need the best ones! Hurray!

Assuming you’re in the U.S. let’s get the top 10 websites that list your business BUT are easy to claim. Remember not to get burnt out on these. Claim just 1-2 a day over the next week.

  1. CitySearch – search business name and location, then claim

  2. Bing

  3. Facebook

  4. YellowPages

  5. Yahoo! Local

  6. SuperPages

  7. Foursquare

  8. ChamberOfCommerce

  9. YellowBot

  10. YellowBook

 

Day 6: Add Service Pages

Time: 15 minutes to 2 weeks to 1 months(ish)

Have you ever looked at your competition’s website?

Do you know what they are missing 90% of the time? (no statistical evidence of this stat, it just sounds nice.) Service pages! Yup, most businesses forget to break out each service they offer as an individual page and speak in detail about it.

Silly, huh? But you’re not silly because you’ll have all these pages in a couple of weeks!

Open a word doc and and list out all the pages that you need to create, the more the better. Then start typing away. Talk in detail about what the specific service is/does that you provide to your customers.

If you were an electrical engineer you could add all these (if they applied):

  • New Construction

  • Remodels

  • Rough Electrical

  • Electrical Rooms

  • Generator Installations

  • Panels & Panel Boards

  • Dimmers and Accessories

  • Interior Lighting

  • Landscape Lighting

  • Lighting Systems Design

  • Lighting Control Systems

  • Solar Panel Systems

  • Trufig Interior Finishes

  • Customer Care Programs

  • 24hr Emergency Service

Make sure you update your title tag, add a photo or two, and link to other pages on your site on each of these pages. Much like you did with your homepage. Continue to build out these pages until every. last. one. is done and optimized!

 

Day 7: Your Day Of Rest

You’ve spent the last week on your local seo and you’re feelin’ pretty darn good about yourself.

Heck, you might even pop a cold one today and celebrate your new subtitle “Owner/Local SEO Expert.” We can relate to the feeling.

This is a good start to your Local SEO, and with these basics covered you’ll probably get some decent traction in the local search results.

But, if you’re in a competitive industry or just want to kick your rankings up a notch, then you might be interested in our LocalSpark program.

Finally, don’t forget to sign up for notifications on new blog posts as I’ll be doing a follow up to this article in the next couple of weeks and you won’t want to miss it!

By the way, this is my first post here at Whitespark and I’d like to say “Howdy!” If you’d like to say “hi” back in the comments below that’d be pretty rad!

AUTHOR

Mikel Zaremba

Mike has been playing with websites and local seo for almost a decade. He loves to find out the inner workings of online tools and then apply that knowledge to help LocalSpark clients achieve better rankings. When Mike is not working or spending time with his family he is aggressively game-planning the return of Glamour Shots and has complied an ebook of over 150 glamour poses (email him for more info if interested).

Follow Me on Twitter
  • Hey Mikel, this is gold – love the memes!

    It’s amazing how a few of these small changes can make a massive impact on how a local business appears in the SERPs – but unfortunately are quite often overlooked by businesses with no time to do them!

    Thanks for the article!

  • Hey Andrew – glad you enjoyed!

    Yeah, I agree. Some of the most basic changes can have a huge impact…in a very short amount of time at that! Easy to overlook, even easier to fix!

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

  • Hey Mikel,

    Great inaugural article for Whitespark, and good to see you joining the talented crew there. Oh, and I second Andrew–great memes!

    As a champion of the value of customer reviews, I liked your section on Yelp, but I was curious why you say you purposely “didn’t touch Google”? You mention you have a specific reason, but I’m not seeing it. Am I just blind?

    Cheers man!

  • Hi Joe! Thanks for stopping by over here!

    I had skipped Google as we’ll be posting a follow up to this post in a couple of weeks. I need to update the article ending. It was in there and then I moved some stuff around and need to re-insert it Google remark. Thanks for pointing that out.

    Also thanks for reading! See ya around!

  • Great blog post Mikel! Here at Localisers we get a lot of people complaining that they don’t have enough time in the day to do ‘local seo’ but they don’t have the money to pay someone to do it either.

    Not sure if it is coincidental but I like how the order is near enough by importance. I have been trying to figure out which single local seo tasks provide the biggest effect when completed and you have pretty much got it spot on.

    Thanks Again!

  • Loved it – so much that I just put it up on my own blog, Mikel! Top notch posting here! And say “hi” to Darren for me too!

  • Great article Mikel.

    A few other things I would add to it, name your images so they are meaningful to google eg. generator-installations-town-name.jpg (with hyphens not underscores).

    Locate and correct existing citations (most businesses will have a lot of well established listings with incorrect business name, address and phone number – correcting these makes a big difference really quickly).

    Clean up their Google services (invariably businesses have multiple gmail accounts linked to different products – one account linked to YouTube, multiple places / plus / my business listings with different gmail accounts or no record of what the login details are).

    Hope this is useful.

    Kind regards

    Alan

  • This is great, especially for sharing for small business owners who may not have any budget for SEO but have a lot of time on their hands. Put it’s all in one post. Love it, going to bookmark and share when someone asks, “What can I do?”. Saves me the breath and the explanations.

  • Very entertaining read! Thanks – makes this easy to pass on to clients…

  • Great to do list. My favourite of course is the day of rest, but I guess that doesn’t bring any local business in?

  • Thought we had the Local SEO in hand, but learned several helpful tips. You said there would be more about Yelp at the end – didn’t see it but would like to.
    Thanks!

  • Oops – I meant – What can you do with Yelp when you have a bad review written by a “Yelp Elite” reviewer – holding back 20+ positive reviews that are hidden? Makes us look like were the bad business in town!

  • @Alan – great reminder on adding descriptive names to your images in the instance that a searcher happens to browse images, or if Google decides to return the image snippet.

    Squashing dup citations and cleaning up Google entities is a little more advanced and time consuming for the average small business owner so we decided not to address it in this post. However, these are great ideas for a followup post.

    Great input in general, Alan! Thanks for taking the time to add something of value to comments. I look forward to conversing in the future!

  • @Steve – Great question! You may consider asking the Elitist on Yelp if they’d be interested in a private tour of the facility. Give them a behind the scenes tour, introduce them to private trainers, etc. After that offer a 1 month trial to the gym and let them know you are sorry about the first experience.

    In reality you should be doing this for ALL disgruntled clients regardless of klout on any social media/review site. These kinds of interactions can go a looooong way both online AND offline.

    For the filtered reviews try contacting the Yelper and asking them if they would update the review or write a new review. This can help one of those stick.

    Thanks for stopping by, Steve!

  • Greg M

    Great Article Mikel,

    One question: any harm in including a link to our Yelp page in the e-mail we send out? Or would that trigger a filter of some sort?

    Thanks.

  • Everything makes perfect sense to me but can be really scary for a local tradesman for example. I think that’s the main reason most local sites aren’t optimised. Ask an electrician to rewrite his homepage and title tags and most will say whoa there, I left school to be an electrician, not a writer or computer geek!

  • Greg

    Great article Mikel,
    Just one question: OK to include a link to your Yelp page in the e-mail that you send out to folks telling them about your page? Or would that trigger some sort of filter at Yelp?

    Thanks,
    Greg M.

  • Good Article!!

    Valuable advise. I like when people offer simple solutions rather than making them complicated.

    Your article mentions – “Notice I didn’t touch on Google?

    Well, there’s a reason for that which I’ll explain at the end of this article.”

    I did not find the explanation that you were thinking to provide towards the end of this article. Please let me know your view point. I appreciate your efforts in advance.

  • Hey Greg – Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. You should be fine adding a link in the email. It’s the same as adding a link to your site showing you are on Yelp.

    Just a side note make sure you DO NOT ask for a review in the email. Just mention that you are on Yelp.

    Thanks again!

  • Hi Colin – I agree with you. Although I will say as time goes on I think more and more business owners are becoming more aware of this technology and are learning some of the basics.

    Most of the steps we mentioned also have an option to send the word doc off to their webmaster so someone who does know how to update this stuff can do it for them.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  • Hey Rahul -So happy to hear you liked the article!

    I didn’t touch too much on Google because we are going to release another (more advanced) in a couple of weeks to address these platforms.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  • Great article! Especially enjoyed the advice to curl up in the fetal position and get out a good long cry! 🙂

  • Memes are a great way to break it down to a client. This blog post is straight to the point, Mikel. Thanks for the checklist.

  • Hehe, love the memes.