Local search engine optimization is crucial for small businesses. If potential customers can’t find the business, they can’t buy from the business, especially if it’s a brick and mortar business and not an online sales shop.

If you’re a small business, being online is no longer an option. Whether you like it or not, it’s more important than ever that someone, anyone, in the same town or the next-town-over knows exactly how to find you when they need you.

Here are two ways small business can get more online exposure so customers can find them.

First, get listed in local search engines. The top 3 search engines are Google, Yahoo! and Bing. Each one has its own local business listings where you can add your company’s information.

Here are links to the top three search engines. You’ll probably have to set up an email account with each first, but that’s a small price to pay for a listing in their local search results.

Second, add your company to the top online directories (kind of like the old yellow pages books). This will ensure that the local directories, which spend big bucks on advertising to consumers, have you included in their listings.

Of course there are many other directories and listings, but this should get you started.  Although going through the process is a bit tedious, you’ll find it to be well worth the effort.  To make things a little easier, you may want to prepare a few things in advance.

  1. Prepare a list of ‘key word/phrases” that describe your business category, main product or service lines. ie. “manufacturer, stuffed animals, organic, wholesale, plush purple frogs, Pete the purple frog, toys, stuffed toys”.  If you’re having a hard time thinking of words, try typing a few words into Google, it will prompt you with suggestions. Compile a list of 10 – 12 key words/phrases.
  2. Write a description of your company. This is typically one sentence (about 150 characcters or less) that includes the very basic description for your business. ie. “Manufactuer and wholesale distributor of organic stuffed animals – home of Pete, the plush purple frog.”
  3. Photos – including an outside photo of the business (so people can identify it as they’re driving/walking, some interior shots, maybe the company logo, perhaps a few shots of your top categories and a few close ups. The number of images you can upload varies so have about 10 to choose from.

Don’t procrastinate about getting your listings out there.  Most of the links above are free but some charge for ‘upgrading’ your listing with photos etc. At the very least, get listed for the basic free listings. You can always go back and upgrade if you feel it necessary.

Now go, do it. Do it now.

Local SEO Tips for Small Businesses

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