Every small or multi-location company can grow their business and attract more customers using Local SEO strategies. In this article we explain what local search optimization is, and why using a local SEO company can help improve your online visibility.
Local SEO is an effective way to market your business online. It helps businesses promote their products and services to local customers at the exact time they’re looking for them. Local SEO uses a variety of strategies — getting your site ranked on search engines like Google, business directories such as Yelp, Superpages, Foursquare, Yellowbook, Google My Business listing, Bing Places for Business page, localized content on your website, online reviews and other strategies.
Millions of customers use local search every day to find the best local businesses in their area. You can help increase your chances of getting found by these potential customers, by working with a local SEO company, of which there are a growing amount of.
Local SEO services offer a very targeted online marketing approach, (it’s not like dropping off brochures on front-porch steps or paying for an ad in a local newspaper that may or may not be seen by a potential customer that is actually interested in your products or services). Local SEO companies allows you to position your business on search engines and other digital marketing platforms so you’re seen by potential customers — on their terms.
‘Localizing’ your website means including your city, county or region name naturally throughout your site. For businesses with several locations, this could involve creating separate pages for individual locations and other local content strategies, like getting involved with local/community events and featuring articles/information about them on the site.
Ensure your site features on citation sites and online business directories. Not only will this help customers find your business, but featuring your company’s name, address and phone number on citation sites and extra information on business directories will help improve your search rankings.
Claiming your Google My Business listing
Claiming your Google My Business (GMB) page is a a key step towards helping your business display on important Google services, such as Local Search, Maps and Google+ pages. GMB (and its Microsoft equivalent, Bing Places for Business) should always be the first online directory you take ownership of.
Managing reviews and ratings
Genuine, honest reviews are critical both for showcasing the quality of your service and for sending signals to search engines that your site and service are trusted and useful. The amount of reviews you receive, the overall quality of the reviews and the authority of the review sites themselves are all important factors for local search rankings.
Getting quality backlinks
Naturally obtained backlinks from well-regarded websites helps search engines recognise your site as a trusted source of information. Links from local newspapers, bloggers and business associations, as well as citations, can all help improve your search visibility.
Local customers are turning to the internet to find local businesses – on desktop AND mobile
Yes, some people still use printed phone books, but more and more people are turning to the internet to find information about local businesses. Here are some statistics:
- 96% of PC owners conduct local searches
- 46% of all Google searches are local
- 64% of local customers use search engines and directories as their main way to find local business
- 50% of local mobile searchers look for business information (like a company’s address or phone number)
- A whopping 78% of local mobile searches result in an offline purchase
Local search marketing is highly targeted and timely
The top reason for local search is to find a specific business. The second most common reason is to find a product or service. Many local searchers are looking for a specific business’ name, but many who search don’t have a specific business in mind when they begin their hunt. By using local search tactics you can better position your business and promote what you have to offer to local customers when they’re looking for your type of business. There’s no better time to connect with a potential customer than when they really need you.
Highest conversion levels of all local advertising channels
Online directories (like Yelp, Citysearch, Foursquare, etc.) display a business’ name, address, phone number and sometimes additional information (like a menu or business description.) Local directories dominate the first page of many local search results. Local directory marketing (just one of many Local SEO strategies) has a higher conversion rate than other more traditional advertising options – up to 50% conversion on some directories. That means that by getting your business accurately listed on as many quality online directory sites as you can, you’ll convert 1 in 2 leads into an actual custom
Mobile Internet is Growing
More and more customers use mobile phones or tablets to find the best local businesses while they’re on the go. In fact, mobile digital media time in the US is now higher at 51% compared to desktop use at 42%. Local SEO covers both PC and mobile internet access meaning you never miss out on a potential customer.
(Credit: We Are Social / Hootsuite)
Great return on investment
Unlike traditional advertising (e.g. local newspapers, leaflets, direct mail, etc.), with local SEO there is little wasted exposure. You reach potential customers when they need you — not when they don’t. This makes Local SEO both efficient and cost-effective.
Only 44% of businesses have claimed their Google My Business listing
Google My Business is a FREE listing that Google makes available for almost any business. Getting listed on Google My Business can help increase your chances of showing up high in local search results on Google. Additionally, many local businesses haven’t figured out the importance of online marketing yet. That leaves the door open for you to get a head start before your competitors wise-up and it gets more competitive. Strike while the iron’s hot.
Many of the best local SEO opportunities are FREE (for now!)
It’s free to claim your listing on Google My Business, Bing Places for Business and on hundreds of other online business directories. That means free promotion for your business..
Only 20% of Adults Get News from Print Newspapers
Traditional advertising media is declining. In fact, fewer and fewer people are reading local newspapers. Recent figures show some local newspapers have lost 80% of their readership in the last 20 years. Why? Because more and more people are turning to the internet for their local news and information about local businesses.
88% of Local Consumers Trust Online Business Reviews
Local Customers Rely on the Internet to Find Information About Your Business
These days people depend on the internet to find information about all types of products and services. If your business isn’t found on local search results, you’ll miss out on new customers. Implementing a variety of Local SEO strategies for your business can help you show up on the internet map for future customers to see!
Grow your business using Local SEO
These Local Search trends are strong now and they’re only going to get stronger and more significant in the future. Now is the time for you to take advantage of local SEO services and boost your business before your competitors catch on. All local businesses, from plumbers and builders to florists and accountants can improve their business and make more money through local SEO. So get started today!
To achieve digital marketing success by leveraging a location-based strategy, most seasoned SEO professionals start at the same place: creating a Google My Business listing.
And for good reason.
Google My Business (GMB) — the free tool from Google that helps business owners manage their online presence across the search engine and its growing portfolio of utilities — offers the greatest impact for brands seeking local exposure.
Features like Google’s Local Search results (shown in the screenshot below), which break out with a list of nearby businesses and much of the pertinent information needed to find a specific business (e.g., address, business hours, category, reviews) and potentially buy something, further emphasize the need for a GMB listing for both new and established businesses.
Now that we’ve discussed optimizing your business for Google My Business, let’s take a look at five simple website updates to improve your local SEO.
1. Improve Internal Linking Structure
Although external links pointing to your site are ideal (which I’ll discuss soon), adjusting your internal linking structure will also boost your SEO rankings.
Why does internal linking matter? It does the following:
- Supports website navigation
- Assists with information architecture and website hierarchy
- Distributes page authority and ranking power among pages
If you want to improve your internal linking structure but aren’t sure where to start, check out Kissmetrics’ The Seven Commandments of Internal Linking for Top-Notch SEO.
2. Optimize URL, Title Tags, Headers, Meta Description, and Content
When it comes to content, every new blog post is a new indexed page for your site, a new page on which to target a geographic search phrase, and a new opportunity to get found in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Every time you write a piece of content, you need to optimize the content for search engines by using high-volume keywords in the URL, title, header, meta description, and body. If you’re having trouble coming up with geo-targeted content, consider highlighting customer success stories and case studies.
3. Add Location Pages to your Website
If you have more than one brick and mortar location, create location pages. Location pages provide readers with your NAP, store hours, unique store descriptions, parking/transit information, promotions, testimonials from happy customers, and more. It’s also important you avoid duplicating content across multiple location pages. For single location businesses, create a locally descriptive About Us page. You’ll get big time bonus points if you add a Google Map to your website on your respective location page(s).
4. Create Local Content
Google continues to get smarter, which means content creators are now able to truly write for users, not search engines. But while writing about general topics will attract a wide crowd, sometimes it’s more important to hone your focus and write about local or industry news to attract a local audience. Be the local authority for your industry by promoting local industry gatherings, news, employees, and other educational content on your blog. Think of top-of-the-funnel content that goes beyond what your business sells.
For example, if you’re a local security company and you’re trying to attract businesses that are new to the area, create a helpful resource to get these businesses well-acquainted with your city. A map of local service providers or a calendar of city-wide events could both provide value for your persona and contain highly relevant on-page local signals.
5. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly
Local search and mobile search go hand in hand (nine out of ten smartphone users conduct local searches on their devices!). Some of the most common ways people will use your site in a mobile environment is to look up reviews, find directions to your location, and search for contact information. Make it easy for your prospects and customers by making your site mobile-friendly.
You’ve learned how to optimize your business for Google My Business and how to update your website for an internal SEO boost — now, let’s take a look at how you can use NAP consistency, directories, and inbound links to take your business one step closer to that number one spot on local search.
Name, Address, Phone Consistency
You’ve got to make it easy for people and search engines to find you. To do this, set up your NAP, which stands for name, address, and phone number (with area code). This should be included as crawlable HTML text on your site. Avoid the common mistake of only including the NAP within an image — images can’t be crawled from search engines like HTML text. The most common location for the NAP is in the footer or header of the site.
Optimize Online Directories and Citations
For United States companies, these four map data aggregators provide a large amount of the map data for Apple, Yelp, Bing, Google+ local, Trip Advisor, and more.
Consistency is key: verify that your citations are consistent and complete across these four data aggregators. Discrepancies like misspellings, abbreviations, lack of suite number or wrong phone number can be problematic. If Google can’t determine which information about your business is correct, it may not show your business at all in search results. Additionally, be sure to remove any duplicate listings you find. Bonus points for emphasizing a Chambers of Commerce membership in your community, which will garner you an external inbound link.
Get Inbound Links with Relevance and Authority
Inbound links are incredibly powerful opportunities to boost your local SEO — every inbound link tells Google you’re a legitimate company, and inbound links can also raise your domain authority. Here are a few ways to get inbound links:
- Sponsorships or Partnerships
- Guest Blog Posting
Start with your own personal network, which may include the Chamber of Commerce, business improvement districts, licensing bureaus, trade associations, resellers, vendors, and/or manufacturers and other affiliates. Consider sponsoring a webinar or meet-up, hosting a community event, promoting something local you love, and building relationships with prominent people and influencers. Additionally, learn to feel comfortable reaching out to partners to see if they can feature you on their partner directory.
Be a guest blogger, talk to and about (positively, of course!) other people in your industry, and act as a resource provider for the community. If you’re an active participant in community conversations, the buzz around you grows in the form of inbound links, social media growth, and media coverage.
Given that .edu links are the bee’s knees for domain authority, why not earn some links by featuring a scholarship in your geographic region? It should be relevant to your industry, send the right signals to your domain (given the backlinks from schools) … and make you feel good, too! Moz built up a solid guide on the steps to success for effective scholarship outreach.
Engage with Social Media and Add Posts to Google My Business
Google considers content shared on social media more important now than ever before. Now that you’ve carved out a beautiful Google My Business page, share the page on social media, further aligning social and search.