Most local business owners know they need an online presence. So many customers are looking online when it comes time to buy or research a service or product. If your business isn’t visible when customers are searching, their money will go elsewhere. If you own your own business, you are probably aware of this, however you may (not) be surprised to find out that you cannot simply hire a friend or their tech savvy child to make your site.

There is much more to local website building and search engine optimization (SEO) than making a pretty website. Below are 3 things you may not know about your local business site.

1. Pictures can be very bad.

While having quality pictures on your website is a really great thing to do, often I see websites consisting of ONLY pictures. One of the biggest problems with this occurs when important information is put on your website as a picture instead of typed text.

A picture image of your phone number and address may be quick and easy to put on your site, but Google is not (yet) smart enough to read those pictures. Google will never know any information you put in a picture!

This is important because Google needs to know everything it can about your website. When a potential customer searches for your phone number or hours of operation, if Google cannot find it, then your customer cannot find it.

2. Your business name, address, and phone number must be consistent.

Ok, so you got your name, address, and phone number into written text that Google can read. Excellent! Now comes another problem. Google can easily mistake two variations of the same address as two completely different businesses!

Example: S 7th Street is not the same as South 7th St

This is bad because Google assigns a rank to each website. If your name, address, and phone number are popular in your local online market, Google will rank you higher. If you have your business listed anywhere with even the slightest format or spelling difference, Google may not be giving your website credit for those listings. In fact, Google may think it is a completely different business, and you will end up competing against yourself!

3. Your website code needs to be Geotagged.

This is something a lot of new or inexperienced website designers will miss. The actual code of your site is something that Google takes very seriously. Google (and Facebook) have made available types of code that must be included in your website. It will not change the look of your website and is completely invisible to anyone viewing the site.

One of these types of codes are Geotags. These tell google that you are a local business, where you are located, what type of business you are, and more. This is one of the best ways for Google to know what your website is about and what your business can do for customers in the area. If this code is not there, Google will have to make a guess, and it will cause your website to rank much lower than it should.

These 3 things are just beginning to scratch the surface of what is involved in making sure your business shows up in front of customers when they are ready to buy. In the end it all boils down to making sure the customer gets where they need to be. If you have the most beautiful website on the internet, it will be all for nothing if customers cannot find it.