Are you interested in bringing more local customers through your doors?
If you operate or manage a brick-and-mortar company, you depend on local clients. Building your reputation via the right marketing techniques is also essential for local businesses.
As a small local business, it’s also important to implement local Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Local SEO is your secret to taking advantage of the 3.5 billion Google searches that occur every day.
If used wisely, a local SEO campaign can drive traffic to your website and other online platforms. It can also leverage your online and local reputation, drawing more community members to your doorstep.
In this post, we’ll discuss basic local SEO techniques you can use to boost your business’s success. Read on for insight!
What is Local SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a digital marketing technique designed to boost businesses’ visibility on online platforms.
Users turn to Google to find all sorts of information on a daily basis. Typically, they type a word or phrase into Google search and browse the results, prioritizing content that appears on the first page of search results.
Users are far more likely to click on results on Google’s first page of listings. Furthermore, they are more likely to click on results with the highest rankings on this first page.
Google does not just assign these rankings arbitrarily. It relies on a host of search engine signals to determine which sites offer the “best match” for specific searches.
In general, Google will prioritize sites that show the greatest authority for certain keywords and subject areas. Reputable and well-referenced sites tend to appear at the top of search results, for example.
Businesses can, in effect, take charge of their Google rankings for a variety of their online content. By implementing SEO, they can optimize their content for trending keywords and search phrases in their industry.
For example, a digital marketing company may optimize one of its website’s pages for the following keywords: “digital marketing services,” “professional web design,” and “Pay-Per-Click advertising opportunities.”
SEO works best in tandem with other digital marketing strategies, such as social media campaigns. Many businesses hire professionals to handle SEO campaigns, as the world of search engine optimization keeps shifting with Google’s own changing standards.
Local SEO is a type of search engine optimization designed for businesses wishing to attract local customers. While it works with a variety of factors, local SEO optimizes your online content for location-based keywords.
For example, a small bakery in Denver, Colorado might optimize its content for the following location-based keywords: “custom cakes in Denver” or “local Colorado bakeries.”
These keywords can help your content appear more prominently in the results for local searches. They can also leverage any online reviews that you’ve gathered on citation platforms, something we will discuss later in this post.
Local SEO enables you to meet your customers on their terms, exactly when they need you. Someone who is looking for a specific service in a town is, after all, far more likely to be in need of it.
Luckily, you can implement local SEO yourself. Read on to learn more about how to take this optimization strategy on yourself.
How to Take on Local SEO
Even if you are new to the world of SEO, you can optimize your online presence for local searches. Here’s how.
1. Get Your Website in Order
The key to any effective optimization campaign lies in your website itself. Your site is often the “landing page” for ads and Google search listings, meaning that SEO’s aim is to bring more traffic to your site.
For this reason, it’s imperative to have your website in working order before you initiate a local SEO campaign.
Google specifies in its SEO guidelines that valuable, relevant content is an important part of any optimization effort. It prioritizes sites full of content likely to prove useful to visitors.
Relevant content is also well-written, free of errors, and concise. It doesn’t waste any time. It’s easy to read and skim and offers users exactly what they are looking for.
All of the content on your site should be original, meaning that it is not duplicated elsewhere–either on your site or the internet itself. Before you go about optimizing your content for location-based keywords, spend some time developing and honing your site’s text.
While you’re at it, you may wish to configure your site’s design with your ideal users in mind. Responsively designed sites, for example, are best suited for mobile users, the type of users most likely to enter local searches into Google.
User-driven, easy-to-navigate sites also look good in Google’s eyes.
2. Claim Your Google Listing
Any local SEO marketer should also begin by claiming a Google listing for her business. Registering on Google My Business enables your business to appear prominently in search results, in the form of a blue ‘card’ to the right of listings.
This blue ‘card’ gives prospective customers even more information about your business, including hours of operation, contact details, and services offered. Most cards will also display Google reviews, enabling searchers to select from results based off of the highest ratings.
A Google listing also ensures that your business appears on Google Maps. Google Maps visibility enables new or visiting customers to find your business easily all from the comfort of their smart devices.
All you need to appear on Google is a physical address for your business. Navigate to the Google My Business home page and click “Start Now.” Enter your company’s contact details and select how you would like to receive your business’s verification code (generally via postcard).
Once you receive this verification code, enter it on your Google My Business account dashboard next to your registered property. Once your listing is verified, it is now live and visible!
You can optimize your Google listing, too. Be sure to fill out all available information, including business categories or tags, special offers, and current photos of your business’s interior and exterior.
If you’ve enabled Google reviews, start responding to customers’ comments. In your responses, use local SEO keywords. We’ll talk about what these keywords may look like later on in this post.
3. Claim Additional Citations
Once you’ve listed your business on Google, it’s time to claim additional citations. Register your business on prominent review platforms like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Facebook Reviews, and Angie’s List.
Be sure to claim a mention in industry-relevant directories, such as the Better Business Bureau or FinancesOnline.
Treat these citations much like your Google listing: fill out all relevant information, make sure these details are consistent across platforms, and optimize your responses to customer reviews for local SEO keywords.
4. Research Local Keywords
Now that you have your online platform firmly established, it’s time to tackle those keywords! Keywords are indeed one of the most important parts of any optimization campaign, but they involve more than casual brainstorming.
In fact, we recommend taking some time to thoroughly research high-performing keywords. You can do this by using a tool like Google’s Keyword Planner.
Performing your own organic searches on Google or other search engines can be useful in this regard, too. Think about your ideal customer–what is she likely to type into Google in order to find your business?
Craft both highly specific keywords, such as “best coffee cake in Denver” and more generic keywords, like “Northwest brewery.” A good mix of long-tail and short-tail keywords can give your content greater ranking odds.
When testing out your own keywords, note where your competitors appear in search results (if they do at all). Your aim should be to, at the very least, match your competitors’ keyword efforts.
Tools and platforms like Ahrefs can also help you explore keywords that are likely to be of high value to you. High-value keywords are popular ones your customers are more likely to search for.
5. Optimize Content for Local Keywords
In general, you should aim to incorporate one location-based keyword per page of content. This may be relatively straightforward, particularly if your website is well-organized by subject matter.
When optimizing your content for local SEO keywords, be careful of over-stuffing your pages with keywords. Over-stuffing means cramming pages of content with too many keywords, a technique that Google has caught onto and will penalize you for!
Try to knit keywords in naturally, aiming to use no more than five keywords per 500 words of content. If you use WordPress for your site, you can download an SEO plugin to help you with this.
When integrating keywords, be sure to use search terms in image titles and ALT descriptions, secondary headers, introductions, and conclusions. Be sure to use your keywords in meta descriptions for individual pages, too.
6. Test Your Local SEO Campaign
Once you’ve optimized your online content for local keywords, it’s time to see how your local SEO campaign performs. In the coming days, weeks, and months, observe how your SEO efforts are doing via Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is a free data-tracking resource for all website owners. It can give you valuable insight into numbers associated with all things SEO, such as bounce rates, organic traffic, and click-throughs.
Be sure to sign up for Google Analytics if you haven’t done so already. Generate weekly SEO reports, if possible, to track your SEO performance over time and adapt accordingly.
It is important to test out every local SEO campaign and replace low-performance keywords with high-performance search terms. This is because SEO is a shifting field.
Consumers are likely to favor specific keywords one day and neglect others the next. Google also frequently updates its algorithms, the tools it uses to assess site content and quality for ranking purposes.
7. Keep All Local Information Updated and Relevant
If your business changes its contact information or commercial details, be sure to update these across all platforms. This means updating your profiles on review portals, Google My Business, and social media.
If Google notices inconsistencies in any of your local information, it may issue a penalty. Penalties can harm your search rankings overall and send your organic traffic numbers plummeting.
8. Bring in Social Media
Social media can leverage any local SEO campaign, especially if you are already active on your business profiles. If you haven’t done so already, create business profiles on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Whenever you post an image, video, or blog post to these accounts, be sure to integrate some local SEO keywords! You can optimize social content for searches, particularly because social media users often search for specific terms within these platforms themselves.
Social media profiles also appear in Google search results when users search for local businesses. This can be vital when it comes to boosting the performance of your on-page local optimization.
9. Start a Blog
SEO works best when it has plenty of material to work with. You can generate endless material for optimization easily by keeping a blog.
Blogs can also help you share your voice as a local business. They give you a chance to talk about things relevant to your customers. They also provide a lot of content for local SEO purposes.
Start a blog on your website and optimize individual posts for local SEO keywords. Share blog posts on social media for maximum visibility.
10. Hire Professionals if Need Be
You don’t have to tackle this big beast of local SEO if you don’t want to. Professionals do exist in the world of SEO, and for good reason.
As a business owner, you may simply not have the time or resources to devote to a well-crafted, high-performance local SEO campaign. But companies like us do.
Final Thoughts: Your Guide to Local SEO
Local SEO can be every small business owner’s secret to gaining valuable visibility on digital platforms. If implemented wisely, it can drive organic traffic to your website and boost conversion rates.
Tackle your website’s design and content first before researching local SEO keywords. Register your business on online directories and review platforms. Claim your Google listing and keep this optimized.
Choose high-value, popular keywords based off of thorough research and optimize your content accordingly. Don’t overlook social media or blogs in your attempts to maximize your campaign.
At Search Lab, we love helping our clients experience high Google rankings. Give us a call now to learn more about our Local SEO services!