Last week, I had the opportunity to interview David Mihm and get his advice on the top 5 things that local businesses must do to be found online. David is a leading expert on local search strategies and local SEO. He was a panelist at a discussion on local SEO at SMX East, titled, “Must-Have Local Search Tactics”. I enjoyed his presentation and was engaged from the the get-go especially since local businesses can gain higher visibility using these SEO strategies.
David is the Director of Local Search Strategy at Moz. His annual Local Search Ranking Factors is the most well known study on local SEO. Every year, local search pundits and the entire SEO community eagerly await this study to determine their local SEO strategy for the year.
David usually presents at SMX and SES conferences. He blogs at DavidMihm.com and at Moz. He is also the co-founder of getlisted.org which is now a part of Moz. For those of you who are new to local SEO, Getlisted.org is a free resource to analyze and optimize your local search listings. David tells me that he and his team are constantly refining it to make it increasingly sophisticated every day.
Me: What are the top 5 things that businesses absolutely must do to optimize for local?
David: I ask this question every year to a panel of about 35 local search experts from around the world. Based on their responses this year, here’s what I’d say:
Submit your business to as many important local directories as you have time to. You can start at GetListed.org, where we show you how you’re currently listed and/or not listed at all. At a minimum, you should do Google Places for Business, Bing Places, and Yahoo Local, along with Infogroup ExpressUpdateUSA, Acxiom, and Factual. Ensure that your Name, Address, and Phone number (your “NAP”) are accurate, and that you’re listed in as many relevant categories as those sites allow.
#2. NAP Citations in HTML format
List your business’s full NAP information on your website, in HTML format.
It’s critical that Google’s web crawler identifies your website as being associated with the physical location you submitted to Google Places for Business. The best way to do this is to make sure the same information you submitted appears in HTML — especially on your homepage, if you’re a single-location business, or on each location’s contact pages for multi-location businesses.
#3. Customer Reviews
Ask your customers for reviews. Reviews are becoming an increasingly important ranking factor in Local. Incentives for customers that leave reviews are generally frowned upon by search engines, but Yelp is the only one that doesn’t like businesses to ask their customers to review them. So ignore Yelp and focus on more business-friendly sites.
#4. Geographic Keywords in Title Tags
Include basic product/service and geographic keywords in your website’s Title Tags.
These are still the most important on-page elements that Google looks at to determine what kind of business you operate, and what city/town/region/state you serve.
#5. Local Community Engagement
Make sure you engage your local community. Whether that’s through being a member of community organizations like chambers of commerce, neighborhood associations, etc., donating to charities or local schools, hosting fundraisers at your place of business, all of these things lead to:
- Shares and mentions of your place of business on blogs and other social media.
- Links back to your website. These shares, mentions, and links are like “votes” for your business, and are one of the most important ranking factors in Local Search.
So, there you have it – the top strategies that you should follow so that your customers can easily find you online. Needless to say that these strategies will help you increase your business by getting you more traffic online from customers who can walk in and do business with you.
What about you? Do you have a local SEO tip to share that has worked for you? Please share with us in the comments below.