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When’s the last time a web design client asked you about SEO?
(If your business is anything like mine, it happens more and more as business owners become more web savvy.)
But just because you’re an awesome web designer doesn’t mean you’re an SEO expert.
So here’s a handy cheat sheet for offering “the big 5” in local SEO/marketing services to help you win more clients!
What is SEO for “local business”es?
A local business is considered to be a business with a central location that either serves customers at their business location (storefront), or within a local radius (service area). Examples include:
- retail stores,
- repair shops,
- restaurants, and
- many (many) more.
The market is huge.
For local businesses, there are a lot of really cool (and important) ways to optimize a website. Luckily for you, SEO for local businesses is fairly straightforward once you know where to begin.
The following are white-hat (not spammy), best-practice local SEO tasks that you can use right now to add value to your next website design project by positioning your clients strongly in Google’s local search engine results pages (SERPs).
1. Register with Google My Business
Google My Business (formerly known as Places, Google+ Local) is one of the easiest and most important places to register your client’s local business online.
The process is fairly straight-forward—simply visit here to get started.
Note: Part of the verification process involves Google sending a post card containing a numeric pin to your client’s business address. From experience, I know these get accidentally thrown away all too easily. Be sure to remind clients what they’re looking for and send a visual example if need be.
Also be sure to update the new listing to 100% completion, uploading plenty of images and accurately and completely filling out all requested business information.
Don’t forget reviews!
Encourage your clients to actively request Google Reviews from their customers, which, after a while, will begin to populate next to their search snippet.
2. Optimize <title> tags
Adding your targeted keyword in the title tag is arguably the most important on-page SEO element. For local businesses, include the city name and (optional) state and ZIP code.
Here’s an example below of a perfectly optimized homepage title tag for a cosmetic dentist:
Cosmetic Dentist Flagstaff, AZ 86002 | Smile Dental
Notice how the targeted keyword “cosmetic dentist” appears first, followed by the location, and finally the business name. This is the proper way to structure title tags (yes, you can use a dash if you want).
Check out more on title tags in this post: An Easy 10-point checklist for your next website project.
3. Add Schema markup
Schema markup is special HTML code you can add to your client’s website that provides more context and meaning for search engines, boosting search snippet appearance. According to a recent article by Search Engine Land, Google may even be considering structured data markup as a ranking factor in the future.
Below is an example code snippet featuring Schema markup for our cosmetic dentist, Smile Dental:
<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Dentist”>
<span itemprop=”name”>Smile Dental</span>
<div itemprop=”address” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/PostalAddress”>
<span itemprop=”streetAddress”>123 Fake Dentist St.</span><br>
<span itemprop=”addressLocality”>Flagstaff</span>,<span itemprop=”addressRegion”>AZ</span> <span itemprop=”postalCode”>86002</span>
Phone: <span itemprop=”telephone”>555-555-1234</span>
Notice “/Dentist” on the first line. That’s the Schema type. For a complete list of available Schema types within the hierarchy, visit the Schema.org website.
4. Sign up for local directory listings
Depending on your client’s location and business category, there are likely several local directory listing websites populating page 1 of search. Sites like:
- Check out their local Chamber of Commerce / city website listings, too!
(Moz breaks down top local citations by category. Some premium listings are paid, but many are free.)
Appearing in many high authority (read: high trust) directory listings not only positively impacts your client’s NAP (name, address, phone number) consistency, but can potentially influence local rankings.
5. Submit to major data aggregators
Think of major data aggregators like the largest branches on a tree.
There are several large branches coming out of the trunk, with many smaller branches and twigs coming out of those. Each large branch represents a major data aggregator, or an authoritative data source that supplies business information to thousands of other smaller “branches” or directory listings.
Submitting your client’s business to the following sites supports a strong local SEO foundation:
- Neustar Localeze,
- Factual, and
- Foursquare, (which supplies data to Pinterest and other local search apps.)
Got more SEO tips?
For me, these are the “Big 5 of Local SEO.” Do you have any other must-have SEO tips?
Share them in the comments! I’d love to hear them.
Looking for more SEO & web design tips?
Check out these posts:
- 4 Major mistakes you should never make when designing a website
- How to boost your clients’ revenue (and your own) with landing pages
- 6 Time-saving tools and references every web designer should bookmark
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