Local SEO for Independent Retailers

mapimageforblogpostRoughly one in three searches on Google.com are local. That’s 33 billion per month –more than a billion a day. Would you like to get some of that free traffic? It’s easier than you would think, and these six tasks will help you get there.

1) Claim your free local search listings. Sign up for free accounts at these five websites. It will take you about 15-20 minutes to fill out all the information at each site, and may well be the most impactful thing you do that day.

Google Places
Yahoo! Local Listings
Bing Local Listing Center
Yelp
Foursquare

Expert tip: Paste your website’s information into a plain text file. Copy and paste from that. This saves you from having to re-type your business information over and over again. It also makes for fewer typos.

2) Incorporate local search terms into your site. Add your town’s name and your neighborhood name (if that makes sense) to your website’s title tags, meta tags, and image alt tags. If you don’t know what that means, ask the person who maintains your website to do this.

If you have a blog, there are excellent plugins, like Platinum SEO Pack or WordPress SEO that will make it easy to edit the keywords. Also add your town’s name to your pages’ headlines and subheads.

Don’t go overboard with adding keywords. Think of salting a steak when you add keywords – add a dash, not a pound. Use Google’s free keyword tool (https://adwords.google.com/o/KeywordTool) to add the right keywords, not just any keywords.

3) Add a Google map to your “Contact” page. This helps Google find and locate your website and will help the search engines know where you are, so they can direct customers to you.

4) Make sure your store’s information is accurate in all business listings. There are a lot of incorrect business listings online, and some of them may be yours. It becomes very hard to correct these listings if you don’t go directly to the databases that supply your site’s misinformation to all websites “downstream”. Fixing the downstream listings won’t work, because with every update your corrections will be overwritten. Avoid this by going to the sources. They are:
GetListed.org
Yext.com
Whitespark.ca
USPS Address Listing Checker

5) Get technical. If you’ve got some website skills (enough to create and upload an XML sitemap), create a free KML (Keyhole Markup Language) file with GeositeMapGenerator.com. It will take about 15 minutes. KHL files give location information to search engines and other location-based tools. Adding a KHL file will get your site to show up more often and more accurately in those location-based tools, and in all of Google’s tools.

6) Add schema.org or “rich snippets” markup to your pages. Those are two names for the same thing. This is an even more advanced SEO technique, but it can increase your traffic by 30% or more.

Rich snippets are actually very simple. You or your web person will add 3-5 lines of code around certain elements on your pages, like your address and phone number. A human viewer won’t be able to see any difference, but hundreds of tools, including the Google bot, will be able to grab that information and display it in a way that will make your listing stand out from the rest. Think of rich snippets as an advanced version of getting your store name in bold in the phone book.

Ask your web person to spend some time tinkering with your site’s markups and how they appear in the search results. Google has an extensive set off resources and a great preview tool, and there’s a huge set of resources at schema.org. It may take some tinkering to get the formatting right, but isn’t 30% more free traffic worth it?