This guest post is by Pete Kennedy, co-founder of Main Street ROI. Want more SEO tips? Register for Main Street ROI’s free Halloween SEO teleseminar: The Death of “Old-School” SEO. You’ll learn about the 3 “old-school” SEO tactics to avoid, plus the 5 new SEO rules to follow. Sign up here.
One of the biggest myths about search engine optimization (SEO) is that you should expect to wait several months before you start ranking on the first page of Google for your target keywords.
While it’s true it can often take several months to crack the first page for super competitive keywords, there are also opportunities for fast rankings with SEO. And one of those opportunities is local SEO.
Local SEO is the process of getting your website ranking on the first page of Google+ Local, Google’s local search engine results (formerly known as Google Places).
The Case for Local SEO
Here are 3 reasons why local SEO represents a powerful marketing opportunity for local businesses.
1. Local search is on the rise
More and more consumers are using search engines to find local businesses on their computers and mobile phones. According to Google, 20% of search queries are for local businesses, 40% of mobile searches are for local businesses, and 97% of consumers search for local businesses online.
2. Prominent first-page listings
Google+ Local listings are typically displayed at the very top of the search results, even above more the traditional “organic” listings. By giving prominent search placement to the local business listings, Google is simply showing searchers what they want to find.
3. Weak local competition
And by showcasing local business listings so prominently, Google has really leveled the SEO playing field for local businesses. Instead of competing with MetLife.com, a local life insurance agent competes with the other agents in her neighborhood (most of whom are not following local SEO best practices). And that’s why it’s often possible to reach the first page in the local results in as little as 30 days.
4 Steps to Get Ranked in the Local Results
Here are the 4 basic steps to take advantage of the local SEO opportunity:
Step 1. Keyword Research
The first step with local SEO, as with any other type of SEO campaign, is to identify the right keywords to target. Use Google’s free keyword tool to find keywords that are frequently-searched and relevant to your business.
Step 2. Optimize Your Listing
If you aren’t already set up with a Google+ Local listing, you’ll need to create your profile and verify your ownership. Then, incorporate your keywords into the categories and description fields of your profile, so Google knows which keywords should trigger your business listing to appear in the local results.
Step 3. Get Citations
“Citations” are one of the biggest factors determining your local search rankings. Citations are mentions of your company’s name, address, and phone number on other websites. And the best way to build citations is to submit your business information to directories.
Step 4. Get Reviews
The fourth step to boost your local rankings is to get reviews. Make it a habit to ask satisfied customers to post reviews for business on your Google+ Local profile.
That’s it! Local SEO is simple and fast to set up, and the results tend to come quickly. But this opportunity won’t last forever, so I encourage you to get started today.