So, you’ve just started a small business. Congratulations! Though, in a sea full of competitors, how can you make your presence felt? Well, it’s true that having a website is a nice start to promoting your brand. But if it’s not easily visible to your target audience, then all the time and effort you’ve made will be in vain.
That’s why you need to learn some local SEO strategies to make sure your brand and its services and products reach your leads’ consciousness.
Before we start getting into the ways you can maximize your local SEO efforts, fair warning: local search engine results pages (SERPs) are very competitive. For you, this means that you’ll have to exert twice the effort to get the results you want.
But, you don’t have to worry. With the tips we’re about to share with you, your brand can definitely improve its local SEO visibility.
Ready to learn how local SEO can help you attract leads and customers? Here are the things you need to know:
Local SEO: The Basics
Long ago, if you wanted to find a certain service or product in your area, you had to flip through the Yellow Pages. Nowadays, if you want to look for something, all you have to do is go online, type in a keyword or two, and voila—the information you need on a silver platter.
Compared to the bulky, time-consuming Yellow Pages, online searches like Google, Bing, and Yelp make it easy for you to find what you need nearby. The best part? You can get the answer to your query right away from the results page. There’s no need to click on a website link.
Having said that, if you want to enhance your brand’s online visibility and rank high on search engines, then you need to optimize your website and local listings in accordance with Google’s algorithms. This is known as local SEO. Local SEO involves tactics that will make your website and listings appear on location-based searches as well as in the local results for wider searches.
How Does Local SEO Help Your Visibility?
If you own a small business, then you’re better off focusing on local SEO instead of aiming to rank for broader searches. Why? Because the latter will pit your brand against numerous competitors. Now, you don’t want to make the mistake of going head-to-head with established brands and institutions, do you?
On the other hand, when you target searches that are more location-specific, you don’t just have a better chance of appearing on search engine results. You also get the benefit of appearing to the people who will find the most value from your website.
Now that you know how local SEO can play a role in gaining leads for your business, it’s time to discuss the specific strategies that help enhance visibility. Keep reading:
14 Effective Local SEO Strategies That Will Improve Your Brand’s Visibility
According to a study conducted by ReviewTrackers in 2017, 35% of all search traffic is local. Therefore, if you aren’t focusing on local SEO, then your business stands to lose what could potentially be a large amount of traffic.
The question now, is, how do you maximize local SEO? It’s simple. Just follow the tips we’ve listed down below and remember—don’t expect results right away. Patience is a big part of any successful SEO strategy.
- Make a Google My Business Account
- Receive Regular Reviews from Satisfied Customers
- Develop Content Based on Local Events or News Stories
- Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
- Optimize for Voice Search
- Focus on Local Keywords
- Use Online Business Directories to Your Advantage
- Use Location Pages or a Location-Specific About Us Page
- Concentrate on Link Signals
- Study Your Competitors for Link Opportunities
- Structured Data Markup
- Make a Page for Every Product and Service You Provide
- Pay Attention to Your Image and Video Ranking
- Get on Google’s Local Pack
We’ll be taking a closer look at each item to help you thoroughly understand. Let’s dive right in:
Make a Google My Business Account
To rank higher on Google Maps and increase visibility in local results of Google Search, you need to optimize your Google listing. But to apply these optimizations, you have to create a Google My Business account first.
You need to provide all the required information in your Google My Business account dashboard. Once that’s done, the information you gave will be placed on your business profile. This is shown in Google Maps, Google Search local results, and the Google Search Knowledge Panel.
Here are steps to optimize your business profile on Google:
- Sign up for a Google My Business account and confirm ownership of the business.
- Add your logo, the services and products you sell, accepted payment methods, hours of operation, and a lot of images.
- Share updated and exact information.
- Let customers review your business online.
- Answer customer reviews sincerely.
- Publish posts (e.g., events, products, and promotions) to your business profile via the Google My Business dashboard.
Receive Regular Reviews from Satisfied Customers
What happens when your customers write reviews praising your business? Two things—it optimizes your Google My Business presence and it inspires more locals to patronize your brand. In fact, a 2017 survey by BrightLocal indicates that 85% of customers trust the reviews they read online as much as personal recommendations.
To get your customers to leave reviews, here are some tips you can follow:
- Personally ask for a review after a sale is done.
- Send a post-purchase text or email requesting customers to write a review (remember to screen them first through a survey, though, to make sure they actually liked your product).
- Answer existing reviews professionally—even negative ones.
Develop Content Based on Local Events or News Stories
Want to snatch your local customers’ attention? Of course you do. One effective way of getting their attention is by creating content that talks about or references a local issue.
These are some strategies you can do:
- Make videos about causes that your brand supports.
- Write blogs that center around local events, new stories, or activities.
- Establish location-specific webpages on your site with quality local content if you cater to several parts of an area.
For the last strategy, how about an example? Let’s say that you own a local restaurant chain. You can create several pages—one for every location—where you publish content centering on local events, such as food festivals or other social events. The nice thing about this strategy is that it can also help your business get ranked for each location.
Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
Mobile devices are becoming more popular than desktops. So if you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, you are missing out. A lot of local searches are made via mobile devices, which means Google favors websites that are optimized for mobile.
But, you have to bear in mind that user experience plays a big role in ranking. With that, if users go through slow load times, have to pinch and zoom, or can’t find the information they need right away, then you won’t show up in local results.
Here are some tips to ensure that mobile users have a seamless experience:
- Make your website load quickly (it shouldn’t load for more than three seconds).
- Use easy-to-read fonts.
- Keep images and text to a minimum; you should only include the important details.
Optimize for Voice Search
Voice search is predicted to have a rapid growth in the next couple of years. You’ve got to bear this in mind when it comes to local SEO. Having said that, you should focus on optimizing for how people ask questions when speaking into devices and not the way they type out their searches.
When doing voice searches, your customers use more long-tail keywords than when they use regular search. This means you have to adjust the SEO of your content accordingly to match the more casual way that someone speaks. You’ll want to take into consideration the usual question starters such as who, what, when, where, why, and how.
Another thing you need to remember when optimizing for voice search is user intent. These searches are typically performed when the user needs to know a particular piece of information. Therefore, if a potential customer uses a voice search to find out what your business’ hours are, then the information should be easily available.
Focus on Local Keywords
Your keywords should be useful to your local customers. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to help you filter keyword searches according to location. This gives you insights into the popular search terms for a particular region. With Keyword Planner, you can make a list of locally relevant keywords you want to target. After you’ve gathered them, they should be found in your website’s URLs, meta content, and copy.
In your content, you also have to include references to region-specific hotspots and landmarks. For example, if you own a shop in lower Manhattan, then you should add mentions of “a stone’s throw away from One Liberty Plaza” and the like on your website.
Use Online Business Directories to Your Advantage
Websites such as Foursquare, MapQuest, and Yelp are examples of online business directories. But there are so many more of them.
It’s a good idea to have your company name, phone number, and address listed in these directories. The more directories your business is listed under, the more visible you are online. However, this will not just promote visibility; it will also help your local SEO.
Your business listing needs to include the following elements:
- Correct business name, address, and phone number (this should be uniform throughout all of the directories)
- An in-depth description of your business
- A backlink to your website
Besides online business directories, your name, address, and phone number must be consistent on every website it appears on. You can use a rank tracking software to examine your citations. If you discover any discrepancies, then get in touch with the site owner of that domain ASAP and request them to fix the inconsistency.
Use Location Pages or a Location-Specific About Us Page
Does your business have more than one location in an area? If it does, then you need location pages on your website. These pages should show the following, at the very least:
- Name, address, and phone number
- Store hours
- Personalized descriptions
- Parking availability
- Google Maps embedded to every location page
Be careful when you have several locations—you have to make unique content for every page.
Now, what if your business just has one location? Well, then, your About Us page should feature local and relevant information. If you own a party supplies store, then your site’s About Us page can serve as the best avenue to mention your business’ involvement in providing decorations for any events in your area.
Concentrate on Link Signals
Link signals are backlinks that direct to your website. While it is key to gain links for boosting your local SEO, you also have to consider their quality.
If you want to get high-quality backlinks, then these are some tips that can help:
- Create valuable content on your website that others would like to link to
- Guest blog on sites with a high domain authority
- Get in touch with local influencers by email or on social media to request them to link back to you
A well-established link building strategy is vital for any successful SEO campaign. So, when you do local SEO, this should be one of your priorities. However, building and earning organic links do not happen instantly. You need to be patient if you want to see the fruit of your efforts.
Study Your Competitors for Link Opportunities
You need a competitor tracking tool to help you discover which websites are linking to your competitors. Why is this important? Spying on the competition can help you gain more backlinks to further your local SEO campaign.
Here are ways on how you can do it:
- Research which websites do not link to you but to your competitors.
- Identify their domain authority.
- Collect the most notable and relevant domains.
- Reach out to the domains that you collected.
Structured Data Markup
If you want your business to show up in the local Knowledge Graph panes of Google SERPs, then you need structured data markup. It also helps users discover your name, address, and phone number as well as customer reviews via the snippet supplied in the SERPs.
Now, you’ve got to keep in mind that different platforms will mean different markups. Open Graph is used for social media sites while Google uses schema for their search results. What’s good about this is that you can easily find software on the internet that can help you handle your markups from a single place.
Make a Page for Every Product and Service You Provide
While it is easier and less time-consuming to simply put all your products or services together on one single page, keep yourself from doing it. Rather, set aside one page for every unique product or service you provide.
The reason why you shouldn’t put every product and service on one page is due to the fact that search engines won’t recognize your brand as an authority in a certain area. Basically, it decreases your chances of ranking higher.
If your business only focuses on one product or service but has several locations, then you just have to create location-based content for every page. For example, “freight forwarder” will become “Massachusetts freight forwarder” or “Boston freight forwarder.”
Pay Attention to Your Image and Video Ranking
Did you know that if you have a nice rank tracking software, you can also see how your image and video rankings are doing?
To optimize images, you can compress them to lower their general file size. But you’ve also got to see to it that the images are correctly formatted (either .png or .jpg). Then, you compress them using a tool that can maintain their quality.
On the other hand, you can optimize videos by making their titles and metadata more clickable. It’s best to add a keyword in this case. Also, including distinct thumbnails and transcribing your video’s text will help when Google indexes your videos.
Get on Google’s Local Pack
Try aiming to appear on Google’s local pack. The local pack is the map section that shows up on the results page of an average Google search when applicable. To be specific, you can find it under the first three results (paid ads, FYI) and over the organic results.
The local pack is directly taken from Google Maps, which is drawn from the Google My Business database.
Before you begin your SEO campaign, focus first on optimizing for local search rankings. With local SEO, you can master a little keyword research, grasp Google My Business, perform competitor analysis, and interact with your customers. These are all vital to your entire SEO campaign.
When your business is still in its early stages, you can’t just jump into a fully fledged SEO campaign. Start small first by investing your time and energy into local SEO. Once you’ve perfected the basics, you’ll have more time to perform the more advanced SEO techniques.
As with modern innovations and technology, SEO is constantly evolving. You may never tell when Google will dole out new features on its SERPs for local searches. However, you can expect that these changes will be coming. Therefore, you have to keep up-to-date on SEO.
When you apply these strategies, you’re not only helping your business stay visible on local searches. You’re also ensuring that it has a sturdy platform when new SEO features are brought in.
If you liked this post, then go ahead and share it with your friends to spread the word about local SEO! Don’t forget to leave a comment, too, to let us know your thoughts on the subject.
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Reach Out to Us
We’d be happy to help you come up with the perfect local SEO strategies for your business. Please feel free to get in touch with us for more details. One of our friendly representatives will be responding to your queries. We can’t wait to work with you!