There are volumes written everyday about Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, and Google offers a methodical guide to help you design and maintain a website that follows good SEO practices. So before fine-tuning your site for local search, take the time to review the SEO basics including site structure and content.
Once you have completed this first step, take advantage of the free tools Google offers in Google Places for Business.
According to Google, 97% of consumers find local businesses online. When you are in Google Places, not only will you show up in search results related to your location, but also in Google Maps, making it even easier for people to find you. When you use Google Places you make sure people have the right information about where you are, your hours, and how to contact with you. You can also upload photos, news, updates, reviews, and offer special discounts to customers and potential customers.
Recently, Google Insights see how many impressions your site receives and with Google Analytics, you can track yours viewers’ behavior. You can track who clicked on what, when, and alter your website accordingly. For example, you can see how many people clicked on your contact information, driving directions, or products and services.
Google Places Basics
Google ranks local search results by first considering relevance. The more complete and detailed your Google Places listing is, the better Google can match it to searches.
Google secondly considers distance, based on the searcher’s location relative to your business location. Even when a searcher doesn’t include a location, Google may have information can help fill in the blanks. This could include IP addresses, previous search queries, or other information gathered from searches.
Finally, the search engine considers prominence, as in the prominence of the business. If you have an active blog, published articles on the web, and in directories, your prominence is likely greater than a new business that hasn’t accomplished any of these yet.
Before you can fill in your listing in Google Places you need to create and verify it. You can choose to verify by having Google send you a postcard via email or phone. Once verified, here are some guidelines for editing your business information.
- Use an email account under your business domain name.
- For your business name, use the exact one you use in the offline world.
- Fill in your business address information completely. Since most contractors provide services to customers at customer locations, you should establish a service area. You can either set your service area based on zip code, or set one up for an area around your location. Do not select the “I serve customers at my business address,” box if you don’t have your location staffed during the stated hours.
- Confirm the pin marker on the map is pointing to the right location.
- Add a single descriptor to help people find you, but don’t use marketing slogans, phone numbers, store codes, or URLs. For example, a contractor named Joe’s Contracting could add “westside” as a descriptor, but not “best” as in Joe’s Best Plumbing.
- Take the time to write an excellent description of what you offer. Succinctly tell people what you do, what you specialize in, and why your services or products are better than you competition.
Also keep in mind that Google is not the only online contractor marketing game in town. Search Engine Land did a study to find out which search engine offers the best return to local small businesses. The results showed Google was clearly the search engine to focus on when optimizing for local search. However, both Bing and Yahoo also represent marketing opportunities and you shouldn’t overlook them.
For Bing, get a Windows Live ID, if you don’t already have one, and then claim your listing. Of course, if you don’t find it there, set one up. Make sure your local listing basic contact information on Bing is the same as Google Places and Yahoo Small Business. For Bing, be sure to include an image that is optimized for local search. Do this by providing an ALT tag for them and including an image description. If the picture is of your business establishment, then include the street address in your description. These tags and description help because search engines can’t read images, but they do can read text.Procore’s Blog
Once the basics are done, you’re all set up to receive web traffic from people within your local service area. These changes should increase your web presence and become a great source for new business.