Local Business SEO
Local businesses are often intimidated by search engine optimization (SEO) because it feels like a marketing activity that only large companies (with unlimited budgets and staff) dominate. However, SEO is actually an easy marketing activity for local businesses to capitalize on — if they can do a few tasks consistently.
I could write a book on why you need to optimize your business for local search, but I’ll let facts convey my point:
- 4 out of 5 consumers use search engines to find local information
- of consumers searched for a local business on their smartphone visited the store within 24 hours (34% of those who searched on a computer/tablet did the same)
- of consumers search for local businesses on-the-go
- 30% would prefer buy in-store (vs. online) if they knew a local store was nearby
Below are five SEO tips that you can use to dominate your local search rankings and move to the front page.
Tip #1: Make sure you are categorized as a local business
Before you can start optimizing for search, you need find out how your business presents on search. If you are an online business –but work in an area — you aren’t qualified as a local business. However, if you have a storefront or service a particular local area, you are classified as a local business.
But wait, there are a few more factors that come into play.
Not only do you need to be local, but your business also needs to have a local identity. Local identity doesn’t mean that people need to be aware of your business, but that you are recognized as being in a specific location. To have a local identity, you must have a physical location (not a P.O. Box) and a local phone number (not a 1-800 or in addition to a 1-800).
Every place you promote your business, should have the same consistent information. You’ll want to always share your NAP (name, address and phone number) with the same exact information and the same style (unless otherwise dictated). Any online space you have a presence on — from your own website and social profiles to directories and maps — should have the same information.
Being consistent will reinforce your brand image in the online world. Keep in mind that it is a two-against-one mentality: the more places your NAP is listed the same, the stronger your search results will be.See also:
How to create custom category in Google Local Business Center for local SEO
I just started a test account to see what you are finding and saw that I was able to enter in whatever category I saw fit in the 'category' sections. I also saw that if the category that did not already exist, they would tell me that I have selected a custom category. I also found that Emergency Dental Service was a category that already existed. Not sure why you are not seeing this in your options.