Welcome back. Let’s talk about search engines and local businesses.
You probably already know that search engines are powerful tools for connecting potential customers with businesses. But did you know that they can prioritise your business in the search results if a searcher is nearby or wants options in your geographic area?
Let’s head back to our bicycle shop example to see how this works.
You’ve got a website where customers can order products online... but they often need to buy replacement parts ASAP, which means they won’t be waiting around for delivery. You need to make sure those customers find your shop, so they can buy what they need, on-the-spot.
So, how can you help your bicycle website show up in ‘local’ search results? First, you have to let the search engines know where “local” is, for you!
Start with the basics, and make sure your website includes information like your business name, your business address or your service area, if you meet with customers at their location, your phone number and your working hours.
Another way to help? Add relevant content that also helps identify your geographic location.
Content goes a long way in helping customers and prospects connect with your business. For a bike shop, content might include a blog about bike repairs and maintenance, and details about the bike clinics you host at your shop.
It could include descriptions, photos and videos of local bicycle races or popular biking trails in your area.
It might include how-to articles about choosing the correct bike frame size with an offer for local customers to visit the shop for help.
As you add more local information to your website, and search engines recognise its relevance to local searchers, the chances of appearing in the local results may increase, too.
Remember: the role of a search engine is to provide the right result, at the right time and in the right place for the searcher. In order to do this, search engines may use the proximity of the searcher to your business, or the geographic area they type in as part of their search.
And it’s important to recognise this: you can’t expect your bike shop to appear in the search results when someone wants to find a bike shop in another country.
Just how well your business is known may also be a factor. Just like in the offline world, some businesses are just more established than others. In the online world, businesses that may have had websites around for a longer period of time or have built up a lot of references and content over time can be rewarded by search engines in the results pages.
And don’t forget to take advantage of the local offerings of the search engines themselves. Making sure that you’re using services like Yahoo! Local, Google My Business or Bing Local will help the search engines know more about your business and when to list you in their results.
Once your business is listed and the physical location or service area confirmed, these local search listings become another way local searchers can find you online.
Let’s do a quick recap. What do you think a result for a search on “bike shop in the town where you live” would include?
If you said “a list of shops in your town that sell bicycles,” you’d be correct.
And if you take a look at the businesses that are showing up, you’ll probably find that they have lots of local listings and websites with lots of relevant content along with detailed information about their business locations.
Last but not least, don’t forget that many searchers are on the go, looking for local results on smartphones.
If your website can be found in the mobile search results it can be an important way to connect with customers, so make sure that you’ve got a mobile friendly, quick loading website that search engines can understand and visitors love.
And that’s it: local SEO 101. Remember, following these steps can help search engines understand if your business is local:
Add location details to your website,
Continually add quality content that’s relevant to your audience and highlights the location of your business,
Check your business listings on search engine and local business directories, and
Ensure your site is mobile-friendly and easy for both search engines and visitors to understand.
It may take some work to get found locally, especially for a new business, but if you take the time to add clear business information to your website, build great content, and promote your site in local directories, your customers can start finding you on the other side of their local searches.
If you want to increase the chance of local customers finding your business, you need to know a bit about:
- including key information on your website
- how search engines choose local results
- the importance of mobile.