I don’t mean that business owners should do all of Local SEO yourself. There’s no reason you need to understand the details of schema.org, nor should you have to take the time yourself to make sure your NAP (Name/Address/Phone) information is correct across all the citation sites, you can hire somebody to do that for you.
But there are some things that do not outsource well and the business owner should do themselves to optimize their Local SEO. These include:
1. Verify your business
Not all citation sites require the business owner to verify themselves, but they should. One of the reasons that there is a need for citation services is because anybody can make a change to your business information on many directory sites. They make money based on bulk uploads of NAP information, so the more the merrier.We’ve recently seen a solid increase in the number of businesses either asking to add or verify their information on their Bizyhood page. Before we accept any changes, we ask that the business owner verify themselves. This is as simple as a quick phone call or at a minimum an email from the business owner from their business email address (not from a made up gmail or yahoo address specifically created to register on citation sites). This simple step gives us more confidence that the actual owner is initiating the request, even if they are outsourcing the effort.
We’re shocked how many business owners do not perform this simple step. I’d go so far as to say that business owners actually should be wary of citation sites that do not request authorization, as they will be nearly impossible to keep consistent over time.
2. Ask for feedback
It is common knowledge that “reviews” are helpful to your Local SEO. Those of you that know us know that we don’t refer to them as reviews, we call it feedback. And the best person to ask your customers to give them feedback is YOU. You do it in person. You’re always looking for ways to improve and want your best customers to tell their friends about you. So why would you rely on anybody else to ask these people for reviews – or even worse, not ask for reviews at all? Getting consistent and relevant new content about your business is one of the best things you can do to enhance your local SEO. And getting honest/open feedback from your customers is simply good for your business. Make this a consistent part of your daily efforts.Also, responding to feedback is one of the easiest and most effective things you can do to show your awesome relationship with customers as well as assist with local SEO!
3. Don’t be generic
I talk to many small business owners who simply don’t have the time or desire to write long form content (e.g. blogs). Many of them compromise by licensing generic content from domain content creators who make their content available for a fee. I know this seems like a cheap and easy way to get relevant content and keywords on your website without a lot of work. I still don’t like it. It’s not your voice, and that content is being used by hundreds of people – and search engines know this. The best small businesses thrive because they do something that uniquely differentiates them from their competition. What is your unique differentiator? That is what you should be writing about (and getting others to write about you). Generic content creators can never do that for you.
The motivation for this blog post came from a Whitespark post that described all of the things a hyperlocal business owner should do to promote Local SEO in three words. At the end of the post, Mikel asked for people to come up with our 3 word suggestions, hence this article. And each of my suggestions were three word descriptions too!