When experts talk about SEO it can sound complicated and time-consuming – there are so many things to consider that it’s easy to get frustrated.

When confronted with the enormity of discussing numerous ways to reach millions of potential customers across the World Wide Web – several thoughts flashed through my mind: I have an angry pile of laundry calling my name. Maybe I should just call it a day and crawl back into bed. Is there anything on Netflix I can binge watch?

In light of my immediate response I realized I was taking the wrong approach. Instead of treating SEO like a chore worse than wrestling laundry into the washing machine – I really needed to lighten up and have some fun with it.

I told my boss that I was going to bake a cake.

I heard him roll his eyes at me over the phone.

But I’m known for my awkward segues in the middle of a seemingly serious conversation so he remained silent. Giving me enough time to hang myself. Or not.

Not. As it turned out.

I’m all for lightening up the learning load. So here’s the deal – SEO is important to  every business (yes – even those without an actual online presence – gasp. the horror. lowercase on purpose.)  So I decided to break this down into a few key ingredients – starting with a single topic – LOCAL SEARCH.

Let’s create a recipe that optimizes the Local Search SEO for your online business so that we can drive actual foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar location.

2 Cups Google. Nicely sifted.
If you haven’t done so you need to add, claim and verify your business on Google. You cannot get away from the power of the Big G. Don’t even try. Have you downloaded the Google My Business App? If you do you can update your business location – including all pertinent contact information – right from the dashboard. (No. It’s not a self-driving App. Yet.) You can also update your business info from Google Maps if you prefer. But here are are some handy screenshots from Google Support to help you.

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 4.19.26 PMScreen Shot 2016-03-22 at 4.20.04 PM

Why is this important? Great question. Thank you for asking.

Most people not only know how to do Google Searches – they actually do Google Searches. On a daily basis. On their laptops and desktops and iPads and…..mobile! Aha! This is key. Think of all the folks out and about using their smartphones who might be doing a Google Search to pull up your information, right this minute, in order to give you a jingle and ask if you still have any cake for sale in your shop and what flavor and how many slices can they buy if they head over right now?

The power of the Big G is that it makes it easy for people to connect with you immediately. So update your listing in Google.

You’ve got a little smidge of Google on your nose…yes…right there…no, that’s your chin…wait..let me get it for you.

1 Stick Unsalted Landing Pages
Is unsalted better than salted? I don’t know. I’m trying to avoid hypertension. Maybe I should stop writing and go watch Netflix.

According to a survey published by Moz, your website’s “On-Page Signals” are the most important factor in local search results. But additional factors are key to optimizing your landing page(s) for local search:

  1. NAP: Name, Address, Phone number.
  2. Page title – use keywords.
  3. Meta description should be clear and can be used as a CTA.
  4. Quality and authority of inbound links.
  5. Page content – aim for at least 100 words.
  6. Keywords in anchor text linking to landing pages and product/service descriptions.
  7. Quality/Authority of reviews on external sites

These are just some of the interesting factors that you can mix into your Local Search Cake recipe. But one takeaway is that your updated location information on your landing pages repeatedly comes up as vital to being found in local search results. So make sure your NAP is good. No. Not that kind of nap…the other NAP.

Did you grease those cake pans yet?

1 Cup sweet Reviews
According to BrightLocal, 92% of consumers read online reviews. And 40% of consumers form an opinion by reading just 1- 3 reviews. (That’s up from 29% in 2014). That’s a lot of serious reading.

Did you know that how many reviews you get, how often you get them and the number of different websites your business is reviewed on all affect your ranking in local search?

Now would be a great time to encourage loyal customers to be brand advocates for you by talking about your business on different review sites. This helps to both build your local authority online and create organic influence.

This batter isn’t going to mix itself you know.

3 tablespoons External Listings
Get your business on external listing services such as Manta, Yellow Pages, the Urban Spoon App, Yahoo! Local, in addition to any local directories in your area. Listings like these not only help generate high-traffic local SEO signals, they increase the reach of your information online and build your local authority and credibility with search engines.

Make good use of a variety of search terms and keywords your business will rank for in a local search. Your aim is to create a strong relationship with your company, its category and physical location by having multiple external listings in reliable locations.

You did remember to preheat the oven, didn’t you?

4 tablespoons of Keywords – mixed well
A note about keywords -The reason we still talk about the importance of keywords is because people use them to search for you online. So it’s important to figure out what people are searching for in terms of a business like yours.

Long tail keywords bring up more specific results than a single keyword. For instance, if you operate a car wash in San Rafael, California – start by typing “Car Wash in San Rafael” (long-tail keyword) into your Google Search and see what pops up in the dropdown list. It shows several options that are much more useful to you than just “Car Wash”. Yet another excellent reason to make certain that your location information is up-to-date in Google and on your website and social platforms.

This is a very easy way to see what keywords are most common in searches for your type of business. Another thing about keywords is to decide which ones pertain to your business and then use them in a consistent manner both on your website and your business storytelling in social media posts. This helps them become familiar to both customers and prospects and they will start using them to search for you online. 

That being said – please understand that your Local Search cake is not a turkey. We don’t want to add keyword stuffing to the recipe – the Big G frowns on that sort thing. It’ll keep your cake from rising.

1/2 Teaspoon Inbound Links
Backlinks from relevant sites (those with a high PageRank and Domain Authority) to yours are still an important influence on both organic and local search platforms. Inbound links are listed as the 2nd most important factor in local SEO in the MOZ survey – so work on linking with other businesses that provide quality content (as you should be doing) and whose sites are relevant to your business. Do not create links to any and every site out there – that’s as bad as keyword stuffing. And unnecessary.

Having links to specific pages (we call them cornerstone pages) on your site will help increase both your SEO rankings and your reach in local searches. A great way to spur increased local exposure is to have links from other authoritative websites within the same geographical area of your business. Think about your local chamber of commerce, news stations or other well-established, well-known companies in your area that have a solid web presence.

Pour your batter into greased pans and pop ‘em in the oven. See? Not so bad. You’re officially baking up key ingredients that create successful local search optimization.

Now you get to lick the bowl. And the beaters – just turn them off first.

To Sum Up
Local SEO is an integral piece of your online business. You have to help prospects find you and (help customers find their way back to you). You have people living and working and shopping in your geographic location. But they could be missing out on your great products and services if their online keyword searches don’t bring up any information about you.

So get busy baking your Local SEO cake – measure out your ingredients, mix them well – and bake it up. But don’t get complacent – once your business starts ranking you will need to keep building links, creating fresh, useful content and increasing your local listings so that your brand continues to stay visible to the people in your own backyard. Keeping your local business profitable is key and the best way to do that is to get found.

And because I like you so much – here is a recipe for yummy cake.