How to Rank Higher on Local Search

I am currently helping a small business get better found online and in local searches.  They specialize in jewelry and watch repair and are located in Chantilly, Virginia.  When I did a search on “jewelry repair in Chantilly” or “watch repair in Chantilly” on Google, I could not find their business at all!  Within two weeks, I was able to get them on a second page of Google search result with a few keywords.  My plan is to get them on the first page.

In this blog post, I thought I would share with you what I did to get on the second page of Google search results and what I plan to do to get on the first page.

Google My Business

The first step I did was to register the business on Google My Business.  This has many benefits.  It will let your business show on Google Maps when customers search for keywords relating to your business.  It will also start showing your business in Google search results if you are not already indexed by Google.  For more thorough listing of why you should register your business, check out their benefits page.  Keep in mind that Google will need to verify your business – this can take one to two weeks.  Once you register, they will send a letter containing pin number which you will use to complete the registration.

Keywords

How will your customers find you on search?  They will likely use some words followed by city or state.  For example, a user looking for a strawberry farm to take his/her family this weekend will likely use one of following keywords:  “strawberry picking in va”, “strawberry picking in northern va”, or “strawberry picking in haymarket.”  A good way to see what words are available is to go to Google and check out their suggestions.

Find local SEO keywords

But do not limit yourself to what Google suggests.  Try to put yourself in customer’s shoes and think hard on how they would find you.  Maybe they will use “strawberry farm in virginia” or “pick strawberry in virginia.”  So when you write content for your website, try to have a good mix of different variations of a target keyword.  The important part is adding location to the keyword.

For the jewelry repair business, following are some of keywords I targeted:

  • “jewelry repair in Chantilly”
  • “jewelry repair chantilly va”
  • “jewelry repair in South Riding”
  • “watch repair in Chantilly”
  • “watch repair in South Riding”

The owner wanted to target both Chantilly and South Riding, a nearby town, so the list got slightly longer.

Website Optimization

Once you have identified keywords for local search, make sure those keywords are used on your website including URL, page title, page description, page header H1, image title and alt tag, and the content.

For the content, you need to be creative and come up with content that accurately describes the business, and their products and services.  I’ve read that Google likes websites that provide more comprehensive information on certain products, services, or topics.  So be as thorough as possible thinking how the content would be helpful to your customers.

By this point, and waiting for about two weeks, I was able to get the business on the second page of Google search result page with some of the above keywords.  Now, that wasn’t too hard so far, right?

Now, to get to the first page, it will require a lot more work and creativity.

Local Directory

If you didn’t know, there are a number of local directory websites out there including YellowPage, Yelp, Foursquare, and Factual.  If I really wanted to get a business on the first page of Google, I would list the business on all local directory websites available and that is what I plan to do with the jewelry repair business.

Chances are that some of those sites may already have your business information, but with outdated phone number or address.  In addition to having your business listed on those sites, you also need to ensure that the information is correct and consistent throughout.  Google will rank your business higher when it aggregates information from all those sites and the data is consistent.

So following are some of the local directory sites I have used and some new ones I found recently:

  • Foursquare
  • Yelp
  • Localaze
  • Factual
  • Axion
  • Infogroup
  • YellowPage
  • SuperPage
  • Neustar
Moz Local
Moz Local

Now, if you want to speed up, you can use services like Moz Local where you pay about $84 per year and it will ensure that your business is listed on all above and in a consistent manner.  I have used it before to a great success.

Press Release

If you have any news worthy stories such as forming a partnership with another business, hosting a special event, or maybe launching of a new e-commerce website, you should work with a PR consultant to write and publish a press release.  This allows other news outlets or bloggers to pick up the story and if the story is interesting enough, they will write about it in news or blog article.  I helped publish three press releases for one of businesses I helped and they are ranking second and third on Google for their target keywords. (of course, there is a lot of other work that went in too)

Link Building

Link BuildingIn my opinion, this is the hardest part of SEO and requires you to be super creative.  The goal here is to get other sites to create links to your website.  But how do you do that?  One of the most effective ways is guest blogging.  If you have a new product, you can reach out to bloggers in your industry, send them some samples, and ask them to write about the product.  If you are part of a local chamber, definitely reach out to the chamber and have them list your site on their site.  For a popular wedding venue I helped, we were able to get their site listed on a local tourism website by reaching out to local Tourism and Economic Development office as well as on the official Virginia State Tourism website, www.virginia.org.

There are many ways to build inbound links to your site.  You just have to be creative and understand the inner workings of your industry to reach out to the right people.

In addition to above, I will also revisit the business website frequently to add more content and refine them.

In near future, I will follow up with another blog article detailing the result achieved. Stay tuned!