How to get new leads by ranking higher in Google Local Search

Gone are the days where you could create a website, throw it online, and assume it would work. Today, your website is a key part of your marketing presence. It’s not enough to be online, you need to have quality content that’s been optimized for search engines so potential customers can find you. First thing’s first: you need to know your keywords.

Step 1: Keyword Research

When you search for a local business on Google, you use two types of keywords: industry-specific terms and geo-specific terms. For example, if you searched for “electricians in Atlanta, Georgia,” the word “electrician” is the industry-specific term and “Atlanta, Georgia” is the geo-specific term.

Why does this matter?

It matters because Google will use both of those terms to determine what websites to show you. For instance, if you searched for “electricians in Atlanta,” it’d be pointless for Google to show you webpages for electricians in New York.

Your Geo-Specific Keyword

This is the easy part. To find your geo-specific keyword, you have to answer one question: what areas does your business serve? If you serve several cities, that’s okay. Your geo-specific keyword is the name of each city you do business in.

Your Industry-Specific Keyword

Finding industry-specific keywords is a bit trickier. You’ll need to use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner to find out how often people search for keywords related to your business.
1. Goto https://adwords.google.com/ko/KeywordPlanner/
2. Login to your gmail/google account (Sign up for free account if you don’t already have one)
3. From top menu click “Tools and Analysis” >> “Keywords Planner” menu option.

Google Adwords Keyword Planner
Sign in to Google Adwords Keyword Planner

Google Local Search Keyword Research
Look for low competition keywords in Google Adwords Keyword Planner

Select “Search for new keyword and group ideas,” then type in as many words that are relevant to your business along with your geo-specific keyword. Using our above example, you’d type in the following:

Atlanta electricians

Atlanta, Georgia electricity

Atlanta, Georgia electric problems

Make sure you check options to target leads in and around your local area and also look for “Low” Competition keywords – Words that are easier to rank for in Google.

Google Local Search Keyword Research Options - Choose low competition keywords
Options to choose in Google Adwords Keyword Planner

Click “Get Ideas” You’ll now see a list of keywords. Choose the ones you want to use on your website – you want to pick the keywords that have a high average monthly search number. Ideally, some of these words are also low competition.

Google Local Search Keyword Research Options - Choose low competition keywords
Low competition keywords that your leads are using in Google Search to find businesses like yours

Now that you have your keywords, you can move on to the next task.

Step 2: Search Engine Optimization

You’re going to use the keywords you found in step one to drive visitors to your small business’s website. How? Well, once your website is optimized with your keywords, it will appear higher on Google’s rankings. The higher it appears, the more visitors you’ll get, and in turn, the more business you’ll see. Remember, you’re goal is to appear as high as possible in local search rankings. To do that, you’re going to add your keywords along with geo-specific content to your website.

You can take a look at our How To Guide on Optimizing your Website for better Search Ranking using Free Tools.

Website Title

When someone searches for something on Google, the only thing they see in the search results are the website’s title and meta description. Ideally, you want your strongest keyword and your strongest geo-specific keyword to appear in your website’s title. Edit your website’s title so that both keywords appear.

Continuing our example, this would be a quality website title:

John Smith: Atlanta Electrician for Your Electrical Problems

Keep your website title under 70 characters.

Website Meta Description

You want to include your industry-specific and your geo-specific keywords in your website’s metadata as well. Edit your website so that the meta description includes both sets of keywords as well as your phone number. For example:

Atlanta electrician serving the Greater Atlanta area. Let us help you deal with your electrical problems. Call for a free quote. (404)-555-4321

Keep the meta data under 165 characters.

Your Address & Phone Number

You may not have known this, but both your business’s address and its phone number count as geo-specific keywords. As such, you need to make sure they appear on every page. Too many businesses make the mistake of only having their address and phone number appear on the “Contact Us” page. This is a valuable opportunity wasted.

Edit your website so that your address and phone number appear on every page, perhaps in a sidebar or a footer.
Serving More Than One Area

If you live near a major city such as New York or Los Angeles, you probably serve a bunch of the smaller cities in the area. Or, perhaps your business is a franchise and you have several shops across a few states. Instead of making a brand new website for each location, you only need to make one page. On that page, include the geo-specific term that you want to rank for.

Using our example, let’s say our electrician works in Atlanta but also serves Cumberland, which is a few miles to the north. Instead of creating an entirely different website for Cumberland, they would simply add another page to their website that references Cumberland.

Add a Map

Adding a map to your website doesn’t just help you in the search engine rankings, it also helps your customers find you. To add a map to your website, first go to Google Maps. Type in your address. Once you’re sure the map has found your actual location, click the “Link” button (it’s right beside the “Print” button). Once you do, you’ll see an HTML code that will put the map on your website. Copy this code, then paste it onto your “Contact Us” page and your “About Us” page.

Step 3: Google Places & Others

Imagine this: someone searches for your industry-specific keyword and your geo-specific keyword and your small business appears on the first page at the very top. Now think about what kind of extra traffic that will mean for your website.

In order to pull that off, you’ll need to claim your Google Places listing. You’ll need to locate your business on a Google map, then enter as much information as possible. Ideally, you should have at least ten photos of your business to upload. If you have any YouTube videos, link those to your business. Remember, generally speaking, the more links you have, the better.

If you work out of your house or would prefer that customers not come to your businesses location, Google provides an option to hide your address.

After you’ve filled out all of the necessary information, you’ll have to verify your business. You may be able to do this by phone, or you may have to wait for a postcard sent to your business’s address.

A Live Google Place

Once you’re verified, you want to get as many reviews from your customers as possible. The more reviews you have, the better. Note that if you see a bad review, you will have the opportunity to respond to it.

While ensuring customers review your business may be out of your hands, you can offer some incentives. Give your customers the chance to win a prize if they review your business, or simply remind them before they leave.
Other Options

Setup your business on Google Places
Setup your business on Google Places

After setting up your Google Places account, you’ll want to add your business to a few other directories. Remember, the more directories you can be found in, the higher your search engine ranking is likely to be.

Yahoo Local

Your first stop is Yahoo Local. Claim your basic listing, which allows you to add your contact information and business hours. If you want, you can spend the extra $9.95 per month to add photos and coupons.
Setup your business on Yahoo Local
Setup your business on Yahoo Local

Yahoo also has paid options to list your business in more than 40 local directories.

Bing Places

Claim your listing on Bing Local and add the usual ingredients — your business’s description and some photos. As with other sites, you’ll need to verify yourself.
Setup your business on Bing Places
Setup your business on Bing Places

Yelp

Arguably the most famous of the search directories, Yelp allows users to post reviews — but also lets you respond to them to demonstrate your customer service ability.
Setup your business on Yelp
Setup your business on Yelp

Other Options

Setup your business on Merchant Circle
Setup your business on Merchant Circle

You should also check out Merchant Circle, Superpages, and Yellow Pages. The process is similar for each.

Step 4: Building Links

Your goal here is to get a bunch of quality local websites to link to yours. While some might consider the shortcut of building several low quality websites, note that Google will penalize you if you over-optimize.

Your first move should be to contact business that are related to yours, but not competing. For example, a store that specializes in lighting might be interested in linking to our Atlanta electrician. Typically, this will happen in two steps. First, you’ll find the related business and check to see if they have a resources page that links out to various other business. Second, you’ll need to contact the business owner and explain why they should be interested in linking to your website.

Next, be on the lookout for local events that might involve you. You may want to sponsor a few smaller events. This is good for the community and it’s good for you search engine ranking. If your business can provide a service for a charity, you should find a way to do so. Most charities will link to your business as a small thank-you.

Step 5: Facebook and Google+ for Business

By now you should have a website with quality content that’s optimized for your selected keywords, a variety of websites linking to you, and your own local business directory listing. Next, you’re going to create Facebook and Google+ profiles for your business. Google incorporates Google+ listings into its search results, giving you another chance to rank highly and draw customers to you.

Start by creating a Google+ page for your business. If you’ve already set up your Google Places listing, you’ll be able to transfer some of the information over.

Setup your business on Google+
Setup your business on Google+

Once you’ve created your Google+ profile, you’ll need to make a few minor changes to optimize it for local searches. Start by including your current location in the “Places Lived” section. Remember the keywords you found in step one? You’ll want to pepper those throughout your Google+ profile as well.

Add local connections. When you add someone as a connection, typically they’ll check your Google+ profile, and if it looks promising, they’ll add you back. Once you have a handful of local connections, you’ll be able to target your status updates just for them.

Remember to double-check that your profile is visible to the general public.

Setup your business on Facebook
Setup your business on Facebook

Facebook has more than a billion users and counting – some of your local leads are in Facebook. Creating a Facebook page for your business lets you reach those audience for your business and turn them into your customers.

Step 6: Monitor Your Results

Any good business knows where it’s getting its best results. Before you optimize your website, you should check to see where it ranks. If it isn’t within the top two pages, you have a problem – most people won’t bother going through three pages of search results.

You’ll notice that as you add your business on multiple directories, get more fans/likes on Facebook, get more connections on Google+, receive more reviews on Google, Yelp and/or other directories, and have more links, your search engine ranking will start to rise. Keep doing what works.

Overwhelmed?

There’s a lot of information to take in when it comes to optimizing your website for Google’s local search results. If you’re curious to know more, or want to take your small business to the next level, you can sign up for a free one hour consultation –
Email or Call Us – (404) 939-5748.

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