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When it comes to SEO, there’s nothing more important that an online presence, especially if it is through what seems like an endless supply of “free” users acquired through search engines and organic search.

While there are are plenty of SEO best practices that every blogger should follow, if you are a brick and mortar store that has a physical storefront, ranking your business locally can help you acquire more customers and increase traffic to your blog or storefront.

Here are my favorite ways to do just that.

Have the Right Category Associations

Based on a survey conducted by Moz, this is considered the most important factor in getting ranked locally.

And, for an obvious reason. How can people locate you if your business is not in the right selected category?

For example, if you are an electrician in Chicago, then you have to select electrician in Google’s (or Yahoo! or Bing) pre-set category taxonomy.

If you select restaurant, then your business will not rank in relevant search terms. You can select up to 9 categories to help narrow down results.

Also remember that while describing the details of your business, make sure that you do key word research so that you use the right keywords that describe the business; proximity of business’s address to the town/city of search; and the you include the most up-to-date information for your business.

Have On-Site Optimization

On-page optimization simply means that your website contains both locally optimized title tags and and meta descriptions.

These are what people will notice when they search for local businesses since they will appear the title.

You also want to make sure that your website contains geo-targeted keywords on everything from page titles to the content that you create.

Your NAP (name, address, phone number) contact information should appear on the header or footer of every page of your website.

And, please make sure that all of this contact information remains consistent (same spelling, punctuation, wording and address).

Bonus Tips: Embed a map by getting a HTML code when you enter your address on Google Maps.

And, make sure that you use stronger keywords. We’ve listed 8 SEO and keyword research tools to help you discover what people are searching for.

Get Listed on Local Search Directories

Whether it’s a hyper-local directory or a national directory, getting included in a third-party local business directory is an absolute must.

Just remember that you need to submit and have your business verified first, which is why you everything that described you business is current and accurate.

Some of the most well-known local business directories are:

  • Google Places
  • Yahoo Local
  • Bing Local
  • Yelp
  • MerchantCircle
  • Superpages
  • Yellow Pages

Citysearch, Angie’s List and Zagat are a few other suggestion.

You can also use a tool like Whitespark Local Citation Finder to discover more local directories.

One final word about citations: don’t submit your site to every directory out there

You may think that getting featured on hundreds of local business directories will cast a wider net, but that’s not going to happen.

Stick with directories that can help people find your business.

For example, we’re been building up citations to PBInstitute for helping children with substance abuse.

If I were to build up citations from a plumbing site…it’s really not going to help at all. It’s actually going to hurt them in the long run.

Keep it all related and it’ll help you 10x more in the long run.

Earn Positive Reviews

One of the best ways to get your local business to rank is through positive reviews.

To accomplish this, having outstanding customer service is required.

Kate Morris states on the Moz Blog when you do this, you are giving “them no choice but to tell people about you.”

Other ways to have people leave reviews is by dropping hints, like including buttons/badges from sites like Yelp on your website; reminding people to leave a review by mentioning a local business directory on receipts; and/or asking customers to rate their experience via an email following a purchase.

Finally, make sure that you engage your audience through the social media platforms where your customers spend the most time.

However, don’t plead for reviews.

You can run Facebook contests on your blog, which is a great way to earn reviews for your prodcut or service.

Use social media to interact with customers, such as announcing an event; resolving concerns or questions; or sharing relevant content.

Also include social buttons on your website, it just makes life easier for your fans.

Reviews will follow this type of engagement.

Related: Tips to format review blog posts

Measure and Analyze

Finally, use Google Analytics to discover information about your customers, which local sites are increasing traffic to your site and even the type of opportunities that are available to capitalize on for local search.