Any business, big or small, needs customers to grow. The law of attraction in business is to draw them in and build a solid base. Referrals flow out of that base of supporters and begin to grow the business organically. Although there is more to it than that, this simplified view helps business owners set their minds right when it comes to dominating local SEO results. This local SEO guide will help explain what local SEO is, why businesses need it, and how it helps improve visibility and online performance.
What is Local SEO
Local SEO refers to search engine optimization: a pathway to finding customers online. While there is no way to invite customers into a business online, one of the ways to attract them is to show up in search engine results. If a customer looks for a product, companies need know what keywords and target values that customer will search for so that their business comes up first. Falling too far down the search engine rabbit hole all but guarantees a business will not get the customers it should. Implemented correctly, SEO ensures that companies can build a footprint among larger competitors in a market that is growing and shifting every day.
If a business serves a certain area, local SEO helps people from that area find the business online. Targeting a niche is key to building a core base of customers. When planning a trip to a certain location, it is more likely a customer will search “what to do in ‘x’ place,” and so that should be targeted in the SEO content. Whether it be on a desktop, laptop, or mobile device, Google ranks consistently as the first place people turn for search results. No matter how a person searches, almost every device today is location-enabled, and the optimization of a website to capture local services will reach potential customers who seek out what you offer. The more you optimize, the more likely you are to rise to the top of search engines and be found by the customers you’re targeting.
How to Do Local SEO
Local SEO is important for any business. A greater marketing and SEO strategy will help outline the benefits that should reach beyond the service area. The best and easiest way to optimize location is to see where your business ranks. Check Google results to see where you land. Google will tell you where you stand and will help you optimize your website for local SEO.
- Address: Get your address in the footer. When you look at search engines and addresses, this is very important for rankings. Look for NAP (name, address, and phone number). This should be the same everywhere you use it. Make your address is exactly same everywhere, so that it’s more easily searchable and associated with your online profile. No matter how customers reach your website, make sure that essential information is the same.
- Know the service area: If a person cannot tell where your business is located, they will likely discount you right away. Even if people want to think globally, they are still likely to search locally before performing a broader search. Your page should describe your service area, history with the company, and clients. Have a map on your website so that people know exactly where you are. Don’t let similarly named companies or similar patented names confuse customers or lead them to your competitors.
- Keyword optimization: While this is helpful, it should be paired with user optimization as well. Search your page once it has been created to be sure you see in search engine results pages (SERPs) what the user sees. Look at it like a customer. You don’t want to attract uninterested people or be unable to optimize hits. It’s also worth noting that Google ranks pages, not domains, so it’s important to have multiple pages on the same domain. Look into local landing pages for more in-depth information on how to optimize individual pages within a site.
How to Improve Local SEO
It takes strategy and effort to improve your local SEO. It won’t happen overnight. If you want your site to be optimized to attract the best customers, start with thinking about who makes up your customer base. To optimize local SEO, you need to start with Google. Google My Business is the best place to start your search. Their tool helps businesses meet Google’s needs. Once Google knows you are an authentic business, they will reward you with sidebar space in local searches, which is a high level of visibility that attracts customers. Online customers are better attracted with visual content that avoids wordiness. To get started:
- Create a Google My Business page.
- Use Google posts in your account.
- Ask customers for reviews to build visibility.
- Respond authentically to reviews.
- Research the best practices for responding to reviews so that your replies are optimized in search results.
Improve Internal Linking
Links are important for driving customers to your site. If you don’t link, it is harder to find you. Adjust how you link to boost SEO. This creates connections between search engines, web content, and your products or services. It also assists with website hierarchy and distributes page authority and ranking power in pages. It is easier to navigate to a site with more hyperlinks.
Don’t give up on good URLs. When it comes to content, blog posts are very important, because they not only outline what you offer, but also give your site a boost. Every time you create a new piece of content, you need to optimize it for search engines. Plug in high-volume keywords to the URL, title, meta description, and body. Don’t neglect this if you want to optimize local SEO!
With competition growing daily, it is more important than ever to stay local. Stay focused on local customers and build that brand recognition. While writing about general topics can attract people, it is often more effective to focus on local or industry news. This cultivates a local audience that cares more deeply about your business. If you are a local company looking for local businesses, create a resource guide. Put out content that drives customers to your site. If you build a map of providers that gives them value, it will make you highly visible and relevant, which is key to building your business.
Many businesses still struggle to make their website mobile-friendly. Customer are more likely to search out your business on a smartphone than on a laptop or desktop computer. Some common ways people use your site is to search through reviews, look up your location, find directions, and look for contact information. They might wish to contact you on social media or via email. It’s important to have all methods of contact on your mobile-friendly website for people to find.
Inbound links build relevance and authority online. If you don’t use these, you miss an opportunity to boost not only your local SEO competency, but also opportunities for customers. Every inbound link tells Google you are legitimate and helps push you to the top of SERPs. To get there, try these strategies:
- Build a personal network with trade associations, resellers, vendors, and more.
- Sponsor a meet-up or host a gathering to share knowledge with the community.
- Get comfortable with reaching out to partners.
- Be a guest blogger to share expertise with others and build resources.
Build on Social Media
Mediums are changing all the time. A few have been staples for a long time, like Facebook and Twitter, but don’t get pigeonholed. It’s important to be open to other outlets as well. Post short videos on Vimeo and YouTube, and make it relevant to your industry. Don’t be afraid to branch out if you want to become relevant to a broader base of customers. Remember, content is king when it comes to local SEO rankings.
How to Rank Local SEO
People who conduct business online may not meet people face-to-face consistently, but they still need local SEO to attract customers. Some businesses think there is no benefit to pushing their brand in the region where they’re already established. This misnomer often costs them customers and money. Local SEO basically does two things: gets your site in front of people and gains trust from your target audience. When you optimize your content, it puts you at the top of search engine’s rankings and ensures that you come first in both search results and customer’s minds. There are a few things you can do to push yourself up in local SEO rankings:
- Use local keywords. Local searches thrive on location. People often look with a place in mind and specify a location in their search, so all other results will be filtered as irrelevant. Websites rely on keywords, so build in content for likely searches such as “buy (product) here,” or “nearest store with (product).” Think of what the customer will search for to find you, and build that into your site.
- Make it useful and relevant. Search engine ranking equates to value for users. The most valuable content may not be what makes you money right away, but rather that which brings in customers to see your site and raises your brand’s ranking. Create content that provides solutions and is informative, convincing, and unique.
- Get visual. Visual information sells. If people can’t see what you have to offer, it makes it more difficult for them to appreciate and desire it. Images will make your website more lively and can make your business more presentable. High quality video and photographic content, 360° photos with panoramic shots, animations, charts, and diagrams are all good visual content that can help you achieve visual appeal. Share visuals in social media to build SEO rankings. Add GPS information to your images to help search engines find a specific location and ties you to it. Anything you can add visually will build local SEO rankings.
Local SEO Tools
Use the best tools available to improve your business with local SEO. Having good tools in your toolbelt will help you improve your rankings and bring customers to your business. Some of the following are great tools to be aware of:
A desktop program that looks through links, images, and apps from an SEO perspective. Screaming Frog will analyze up to 500 URLs for free and offers an unlimited paid service for $200/yr. Take advantage of this if you want a program that takes some of the work of SEO off your hands.
This program is less expensive than others and helps make sure listings are verified on Google and Facebook. If you want to distribute your listings across search engines, this service will collaborate with aggregators to push them. The goal of this service is to help get your listings into more visible spaces and be seen by customers.
Buzzstream helps earn local backlinks, which helps build relationships with local influencers. The goal is to push conversations and report insights for your outreach campaigns. When you have conversations being tracked, it helps provide feedback on what’s working and gives you an idea if your local SEO is hitting the target.
Bright Local is an SEO tool that is built for local business and marketing. This tool is great to monitor reviews and catch any negative performance issues. If you want to analyze local competitors, this is a great way to go.
The best way you can get local SEO to work for you is to start small. If you are concerned about rankings, think about a strategy of two or three things you can do today that will push your local SEO to the next level. Remember, reviews and content are key online. If your business needs more positive reviews, reach out to satisfied customers and ask for reviews. Populate your website with hyperlinks, internal links, and visual content that appeals to your base. Set your social media content to be interactive with your website content and draw people in. If you are struggling with how to do this, or simply don’t have the time, you can always hire a trusted contractor to get you started. Don’t linger in SEO land without a plan. Get started, go local, and build your local SEO rankings today!