One of the most common mistakes made by small business owners today is neglecting Toronto SEO. SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, is the practice of optimizing the online presence of a brand such that it will show up in as many relevant internet searches as possible. It may seem reasonable, then, to conclude that a business that deals mostly or exclusively in local foot traffic has no need for a Toronto SEO Expert. However, this could not be further from the truth.
When people today look for a business, the first place they will look is a phone screen. While as recently as 15 years ago one could have credibly gotten by on traffic from the yellow pages, advertisements in the local news, and other non-internet solutions to generate traffic, today the internet is king. Especially among the younger generation, but increasingly among older generations as well, smart phones accessing the internet provide the primary and only source of information for potential customers.
What this means for small local businesses is that if you do not have a web presence, people will not know your business exists. It is barely an exaggeration to say that people standing outside your store will check Google for businesses like yours, find one across town, and drive there instead. The internet is the single largest source of traffic available today, no matter the business you are in. Getting more people aware of your business is the number one way to grow, so SEO is extremely important for any business.
So, what do you need to do to get your local SEO up to snuff? Luckily, there are a number of simple solutions that will make a huge difference. With as little as a couple of hours of effort, you can go from no SEO at all to being easy to find online.
Make A Local Places Page
The absolute first step is very simple: get on a major search engine and make a local places page for your business. While Google is by far the most important, it is wise to make one for Bing and Yahoo as well. Making these pages functional is quick and easy. All you need to do is fill out a basic form with the basic information customers may need to know about you: name of the business, phone number, hours of operation, physical address, etc. Once these pages are created, people looking for information about your business will have it in a flash, which is an advantage over businesses that do not do this that cannot be overstated.
Optimize Your Local Places Page
Once your page is created, potential customers will have easy access to all the essential information about your business. While this is a big step, local places pages can do a lot more than that. The next step is optimizing your listing so that you can get the most out of it. The next step is optimization.
Categorization is an extremely important type of optimization for getting new eyes on your business. Most search engines offer the ability to put your businesses into specific categories that help the search engine understand what types of searches to show your business for. Looking down the list and checking every category that applies to your business is very important, because often, businesses will either not list your business at all in generic searches like “restaurants near me.” Even worse, sometimes your business will be miscategorized, which can get you customers calling about services you do not offer and wasting employee time.
Besides getting your categories correct, your local places page needs to look like an advertisement that you would be happy to put into the local newspaper. High quality photos of your business at its best can be displayed right there on the search window. Take some great pictures of food you make, products you sell, or services you provide. Pictures help put people into the frame of mind of what it would be like to visit your business, and a few good pictures can really sell somebody on stopping by.
With these optimizations, people looking for businesses like yours in your area will be able to find your business easily. The great part about local places pages is that they provide local traffic, meaning that every hit you get has a very high chance of making a sale. Local pages are sorted by geographical proximity as well as relevance, so somebody looking for food right down the street is very likely to come up with your restaurant in a search. This is how Toronto Search Engine Optimization Experts can make a very direct difference in local traffic.
Make Sure Your Information Is Accurate- Everywhere!
Now that your local places pages are set up in the major search engines, it is time to look at other places where people may find your business online. Doing a search for your business will often turn up websites like Yelp that categorize businesses. As the business owner, most sites like this will allow you to claim ownership of your business, which means that you can fill out your basic info there. It is especially important to look for sites that are listing incorrect or outdated information like phone numbers, hours, and locations. These sites want their info to be accurate too, so work with them to ensure that customers can find accurate information about your business in as many places as possible. A customer being angry at you because a third party site did not update your hours of operation is not fun!
As you can see, there is a lot that a local business owner can do to improve their online presence without needing a lot of time or technical knowledge. Just putting your information out there where people can find it is a great start to local SEO in Toronto. Of course, there is a lot more that can be done; try getting started with these basics and then look for more advanced ways to improve your web presence!