If you are the owner of a local business, then you know just how important it is to be visible to your prospective customers online and at the top of the search engines.
After all, why use your hard-earned resources to attract audiences from a much wider radius when you can build a strong following right within your own locality?
When it comes to capturing worthwhile leads, SEO is still one of the most effective approaches you can use. If you’re unconvinced, check out these stats:
- 88% of people who search for local businesses on their mobile either call or visit the business within a day
- 46% of Google searches are local
- 71% of people looking for a local business go online
Those numbers illustrate the power of local SEO, which means that more traffic to your website will directly result in more traffic to your door and more purchases in your store. If local SEO isn’t at the forefront of your marketing strategy, think about all of the opportunities and leads that your business is missing out on!
So why is optimizing your site for local SEO so important?
With more and more businesses becoming aware of the importance of local search and a notable presence in the digital space, the competition has become stiffer than ever. There are a lot of local SEO tips discussed online, but, first things first, let’s discuss the basic factors of local SEO and why they’re so important for increasing your online presence and in-store sales.
Local SEO can be likened to standard SEO practices, but with an added geographical feature. Because you want to rank high in local searches, you have to emphasize the location component of your site.
What’s the point in ranking high in L.A. when your store is in Houston?
Of course, your priority should be those potential customers who are within your area. Hence, you have to make certain adjustments to optimize your local search engine exposure.
There are two sections of local results on Google. One part is the “near me” results with little previews of local businesses that search a user’s query. For example, if you punch in “coffee shops near me” there will be a horizontal strip of results at the top of the search engine results page (SERP).
According to AHREFs, “33% of clicks go to the local “snack pack” results [which is that top preview section of results], with 40% going to the regular organic results.” This is prime real estate for your brand! Underneath that section is the list of organic search results which has to do with how well your website is optimized, its domain authority, and how relevant it is to your user’s search query
Local SEO Optimization Tips
Here are some key tips you can strategically implement to make your business stand out in from a local standpoint:
Make sure your contact information is included throughout your website and all online platforms
In order to make sure potential customers can actually find your store location, it is essential to provide them with the right contact information. This simple concept sounds easy enough but it
isn’t always followed, especially when businesses move into a new location and forget to update their information. Your landing page, or contact us page should clearly indicate your business NAP: name, address, and phone number. You can also add your official email on this page.
To go a step further, make your phone numbers clickable on mobile devices. You want to make it as convenient as possible for your customers to reach you.
And we’ve mentioned, a majority of mobile searches are location-driven, so it’s imperative that you have a website that can cater to mobile devices.
You can also show a map or location points on your contact page to make it easier for people to find the exact location of your business.
To keep everything SEO-friendly, make sure that your NAP follows the exact same format across all your sites. It might create a discrepancy if your address on your website is “Mulberry St.” while on Facebook it is “Mulberry Street.” Keep everything uniform when it comes to business address info.
Get your title, meta description, and content in order
When your potential customers view their Google search results, they only have a glimpse of what your business is about. You have to use this space to engage them and persuade them to click your website.
Avoid generic terms. Get straight to what you want audiences to know about your business.
For your title tags and meta description, keep it fresh and informative. Include your city or region and the target keyword of the page they describe. This informs Google’s crawlers of the geo location as well as the content on the page, allowing them to index your pages accordingly.
For example, if you own a plumbing company that’s located somewhere in NYC, the title tag and meta description of your homepage should include something like “plumbing company in [your town/city]” so potential customers in need of a plumber in your general area who are searching for “plumbing companies in NYC” or “Manhattan” or “Lower East Side” will find you (if your site is optimized properly and Google approves). Get as specific and geo-targeted as possible to attract the most targeted customers possible! But it’s not enough just to have those keywords in your page’s title tags. The content on your website’s pages must be relevant to these queries as well. Conduct some research to find which keywords people in your area are looking up and then incorporate those into your content (where appropriate and without going overboard, of course).
Basically, make your first impression count!
Get listed on Google My Business and other relevant sites
Aiming for the top of search results means that you have to be known across the digital landscape.
One way to do this is to publish your business listing on Google My Business. Local searchers generally focus on the business address and location, and Google’s free tool allows you to place your NAP and other business info on Google Search and Maps.
With Google My Business, you have to first go through a verification procedure where Google will either call you or send you a letter to ensure the validity of your business.
Once everything’s confirmed, you can then fill out the information on your GMB page. Keep your info current and optimize by adding images or even a virtual tour on your GMB page. This gives visual-centric customers a reason to choose your business over others with less to offer.
Aside from Google My Business, there are other sites as well that can help enhance your SEO efforts. These include Infogroup, Neustar, Citysearch, and Yelp.
Build links with relevant (local) and non-competing businesses
Compared to the other local SEO tips mentioned here, this one might take some time to accomplish, as you have to engage in networking before gaining connections with other businesses.
But for sure, there are plenty of businesses within your area that you can engage with on a regular basis not only for backlinking, but also for other marketing events and activities.
Get your products or services reviewed
According to Zendesk, a staggering 90% of customers mentioned that online reviews influence their purchasing decisions.
Indeed, when trying to decide on a product or service, most of us will browse through written reviews or video testimonials just to see how well (or how disappointing) a product’s performance is.
So what does this mean for your business?
Two things. First, your online presence on authority review sites is very important. Try to have your product reviewed on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google+ Local, Foursquare, and others. This largely depends on what type of industry you are in.
Aside from that, you can also publish blog posts on your site, discussing your product or service. Users will appreciate an honest and in-depth review coming from your end. This will be beneficial for your organic traffic, too!
Prioritize mobile devices
Mobile phones generate about 52% of all online traffic worldwide, so if your site isn’t responsive enough to fit mobile devices, you’re totally missing out on potential customers.
Remember, Google also considers mobile responsiveness in their ranking algorithm, so you need to take care of this feature right away.
Use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test to find out if your site adapts to mobile specifications.
These local SEO tips illustrate how you can re-align your efforts to make your business more prominent within your community. Use these suggestions to capture relevant customers, and create more conversion opportunities.