When conducting online research, consumers use local search terms to find everything from seafood restaurants in their area, to nearby gyms, to child care providers that are close to where they work. To attract local customers or clients, small businesses must take action to ensure they’re found by local searchers.

Beyond simply having a website, there are several actions small businesses can take to boost their search engine rankings. To help you optimize your online presence for local search and connect with people who are looking for the products or services that you offer, here are four tips from Noah Turner, SEO Manager at Deluxe, and Abel Johnson, SEO Specialist at Deluxe.

Claim your online directory listings

In the digital age, you can drive more foot traffic to your business if it shows up in online searches. In fact, 72 percent of consumers who did a local search online visited a store within five miles. To establish your local presence, you should claim your online directory listings and fill out all of your profiles on social networks.

“You have to make sure your business is in the places where people are looking. That might be a search engine like Google but it could also be on Yelp or Facebook,” explains Turner. “To get found online, your business should be everywhere.”

Be consistent

It’s critical that your business’s name, address and phone number are consistent across all directory listings. Inconsistent listings can confuse search engines and searchers, and decrease your overall rankings.

Conversely, consistent listings will actually improve your online visibility. “When you demonstrate that your directory information is reliable, Google deems the information more reliable, and it increases your chances of showing up in local searches,” explains Johnson.

In addition to getting your online listings in order, you should be optimizing your website’s content for local search. As you’re writing copy for your website, put yourself in the shoes of a prospective customer. Which search terms would they be using to find the kinds of products or services that you offer?

“People are typing keywords into the search engine and you need to make sure that you have content that matches,” says Turner. “When someone is looking for an auto repair shop, for example, they might look up ‘oil change near me.’ But if your shop’s website doesn’t mention that you do oil changes, you’re not going to show up in search results or be able to attract a customer who’s looking for that service.”

This being said, you can’t simply stuff your website full of keywords and expect results. Repeating a bunch of common search terms over and over again or using them out of context just to boost your search ranking won’t work. Not only will this irritate your website’s visitors, but it can also harm your ranking on Google.

To ensure that the keywords flow organically and are contextually relevant, you may want to add a product page or a services page to your website. This extra page will give you a place to list everything that you do or give more information about the merchandise you sell in a way that makes sense for your website’s visitors and improves your search ranking.

Start today

Great news: You can start putting these tips into action right now. New businesses should begin by filling out their profiles on Google My Business, Facebook and Yelp — the top three places to list a business. Older businesses can run a scan of their listings, using the free Deluxe scan tool to find out if any information needs to be updated, removed or cleaned up.

To make this process run smoother and ensure that all of the information is accurate, create a spreadsheet with all of your company information on it — including your legal business name, physical address, phone number, a short description of your business, a long description of your business and the categories of the services you provided. You’ll be able to refer to this as you fill out all of your listings.

Developing and maintaining your business’s local search presence takes time. But it’s well worth the investment. Implementing local search techniques into your digital marketing strategy can grow your customer base and ultimately grow your business.

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