In the battle for local online recognition, only businesses that have mastered (or invested wisely in) search engine optimization can stand the test of time. As a small business owner, it is important to remember that besides the general SEO practices that every business must have, local SEO must be implemented if your business is to thrive. Local search engine marketing describes the practice of customizing search engine optimization such that it becomes relevant to a particular geographical location. For instance, if you are operating your business in Denver, you want to make it easier for a Denver resident to locate you. Hence, you will have Denver in mind when designing your local SEO.
This is why it is so important to understand the crucial role played by Google Places as far as ensuring your business is visible on a localized scale. If your business has an identity of Google Places, it will show up on Google Maps, Google searches and even Google+ Local.
When creating an account on Google Places for your business, attention must be paid to capture the business details exactly as they appear in the offline world. You are required to list your business’ name, address and phone number, or N.A.P, after which Google will send you a postcard using the address provided. This postcard contains a PIN which will be used to verify that you are indeed the business owner, after which your business will start showing up in the Local results.
In addition to N.A.P, you are allowed to provide information such as business hours, a description of not more than 4,200 characters and even photos. For small businesses that do not have a fixed address, for instance if you travel a lot and take your business with you, you will still be required to provide a mailing address.
After your business has been verified by Google, it will now appear in the SERP or local SEO sites. Hovering over the name of your business on the results page will display the rest of your business information, complete with a Google map. Google will usually display locally optimized businesses in a Local 7-Pack format though sometimes utilizes the Display Carousel. With the use of Business Photos, you are able to create an interactive tour of your location, which is a great way to show the prospective client or customer where exactly to find you and what to expect when they arrive.
Besides Google Places, small business owners should strive to have a presence in all relevant online directories and business review sites as this is the best way to ensure customers are able to find you quickly and easily. When looking for the best SEO package, business owners must ensure that they get a package that caters for local SEO as this is where the most customers are. It is unlikely that any substantial progress is going to be made if you are advertising locally-offered services to people who are outside of your locality. Would you sell hair combs to a bald man? However, if a business owner focuses on reaching the immediate market, and delivers an effective content rich website – the return will be unlimited.