They say that the 3 most important factors in business are location, location and location. Interestingly, the same can be said for online business. Showing up in search results is vital to doing business online. You spent months picking out the perfect location for your small business – now you need to invest a little time to make sure you appear in the right places online.

These 3 simple, yet critical steps will go a long way in helping your business gain local search visibility and help drive local traffic to your website.

Optimizations for your website

Search engines will regard information on the official brand website as particularly authorative. The first step is insuring your own website provides local information to search engines by integrating localized phrases into your site’s content, especially in heavily weighted elements. You should…

  • include city/state in appropriate page titles
  • include city/state in appropriate H1 headers
  • include city/state in page copy as appropriate
  • include business name, address and phone number in HTML
  • use schema markup to tag the appropriate NAP elements (this Search Engine Journal article had a great section on this)

Secure & optimize your Google My Business page

If you haven’t already set up & verified a Google business profile page for your business, this should be your next step. Setting up a Google My Business page is super simple. Follow the prompts, and pay close attention to insure that…

  • you fill in as much information as possible  (should match exactly with website info)
  • the information is as accurate as possible
  • you have selected the appropriate categories to be listed with-in

Take your time and fill out your profile as fully as possible. Including sufficient & accurate information will be the difference between first page results and virtual obscurity. It won’t hurt to go the extra mile and include details like hours of operation & listing the brands you carry.

Obtain & optimize NAP citations

NAP citations are instances of your business’ Name Address & Phone number on 3rd party websites. Search engines collect and qualify location information from a wide variety of sources across the internet.

More instances of your correct business NAP help Google insure that it’s locale listing information is correct. The more sure they are of it’s accuracy, the more likely they are to display it – giving businesses with more citations that are consistent and accurate an advantage over competitors with fewer, and less accurate NAPs.

NAP citations are pretty easy to acquire, but may take a little time. You can hire a digital consultant to track down opportunities and even acquire the NAP listings for you, or you can apply a little elbow grease and do it yourself.

Finding places to list your business NAP isn’t difficult, there are a ton of websites specializing in local business listings from directories to local business associations. Here are a few ideas to get you started…

  • include your NAP on your own web properties (business website, personal blog etc)
  • list your business NAP on social platforms (Facebook business page, Google Plus profile/page, Four Square, Yelp etc)
  • get listed on local business association websites (local BBB, small business associations, chamber of commerce sites)
  • list your NAP in your signatures on any forums you frequent
  • include your NAP as an answer on popular Question & Answer sites (Quora, Yahoo Answers etc)
  • get listed in directories that specialize in collections of local businesses & attractions
  • get listed in directories that specialize in collections of industry relevant businesses
  • use your NAP details in Press Releases & guest blog posts when appropriate

That should help get you started! It’ll take you a little time to exhaust those obvious opportunities, but it’ll be worth all the effort – your local visibility should improve dramatically – Good luck!

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