These days it seems that every day brings to light a new set of rules and recommendations regarding search optimization for local businesses. New directories keep popping up left and right promising local businesses to boost their visibility online and to help with gaining better rankings on Google’s network of local search related products.

While some of these tips work and some don’t, it’s very important to keep in mind that each business’s online marketing strategy is different because each business is different. A big brand will have a strategy that consists of elements that may not be relevant for a local mom and pop shop.

Following through these three basic tips can greatly help local businesses in gaining more traffic through Google’s search engines. Furthermore ignoring these tips can not only greatly reduce visibility but in some cases may cause damage to your listings that can take months to repair.

1. Claim your Google Plus / Google Places listing

An important first step for every business with their interaction with Google is claiming their local listing. While this step may not directly affect your ranking it allows you a platform to interact with your customers and publish content that if highly engaging and relevant to your customer base can, in time, assist in boosting your ranking on Google.

2. Ensure your NAP is correct and consistent across the web

Many of our customers think that simply claiming and maintaining your Google places listing is enough to gain more visibility on Google, Ignoring the simple fact that google, as a search engine is consistently “fed” information from a variety of sources regarding a local business. Ensuring that your NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number) information is accurate and consistent with local data providers and across the web can ensure that your information is not only found online, but that the information customers find is the correct one. This is especially important when a business has moved or changed it’s name. Be patient as this type of information takes time to trickle down to search engines through the local info online ecosystem.

3. The importance of social media

Whether you maintain personal accounts on social networks as Facebook or Twitter, having an active one for your business has become a must in todays web. Social media is not only a great tool to generate buzz for your business via things like reviews or customer service interactions, tools like Twitter also allow businesses to create backlinks to their site as content from these social networks often gets propagated to millions of other sites. Keeping your content and social media interactions or content publishing activities focused and real can afford great benefits for your business’s overall online marketing strategy.

Keeping these tips in mind and implementing them within your local marketing strategy will offer you great benefits. Be patient and consistent! The long term benefits are well worth it.