Maybe you are asking yourself, what is local SEO marketing and why does it matter?
Most online businesses are practicing SEO. Small businesses and local businesses mainly rely on local SEO to build an online presence and increase exposure to more potential customers.
In this blog post today, you will learn how to utilize proven local marketing strategies to give your business a kick start on dominating local search in 2017.
The ways of how we search using search engines and the content delivered to us are constantly changing. But one thing for sure is that search engines are clearly on a mission to provide users with the most relevant results for their query, personalized based on their location, search history, and browsing behavior.
This means that localized search results are not more important than ever, and if your business appears at the top of Google for keywords that are related to your business and its location, you’ll generate more leads and sales from your website.
So how do you optimize your site to conquer the local search results?
Local competition is heating up, and if you’re not on top of your rankings yet, you’d better take note of these eight practical local SEO tactics you can use to help your business rank higher or your competitors will do so.
1) The Basics: Title And Meta Description
The title and meta descriptions tags are the HTML elements for you to describe your content appear in the SERPs.
Think of this as a preview to your content. Last year, Google increased the width of the main search results page to 600px. This means that there is now more spaces for you to write longer title and meta descriptions.
So take advantage of this update and use it wisely to increase your business exposure. Make sure that you don’t go too long or your titles and meta descriptions will be truncated in the SERPs. The best way to avoid your title and meta descriptions being cut off in the SERPs is to put your keywords at the beginning of the sentence rather than the end.
If you’re not sure how your title and meta description tags will look or how many characters you can get away with, try using an emulator like the one from SEOPressor for WordPress.
In a sea of competing for search results, if your meta descriptions are not unique and descriptive, then you will have a low click-through rate (CTR). Always, always make your title and meta description impactful. Every character counts.
Especially now that you’re optimizing for nearby searches, don’t forget to include the name of the city your business in. For example, SEO agency in New York City. When your business shows up in the search results, you will have more chances to get people click on your link.
2) Online Directories Improve Local Search Engine Optimization
Google conducted a study and found that four out of five consumers use search engines to conduct local searches.
The issue is that many small businesses have not claimed their local business listing online. Imagine how many opportunities you’ve missed!
It’s essential for local businesses to get their business listed correctly and consistently on top online business directories like Yelp. The major thing to not forget is getting your business’ name, address, and phone number (NAP) on the main citation data aggregators like Infogroup and Factual.
Make sure that your company’s NAP is consistent in every directory.
Before publishing, don’t forget to check the spelling once again because misspellings, abbreviations or wrong phone number can create havoc when Google can’t determine which information is correct. When search engines are unsure, they may end up displaying incorrect information or not showing your business in SERPs at all.
3) Claim Your “Google My Business.”
It’s super important for every local business to claim their Google My Business and Bing Places for Business page. Don’t worry, these platforms are free, and you can get incredible exposure if you have optimized your business to show up in Google’s local listings.
However, if your business is already on Google My Business page, you can always claim your business. There will be a verification process that you’ll need to go through where Google will send a postcard with a PIN to your physical business location. After that, you just log in and key in the PIN to verify your business.
I know, you probably feel that it’s troublesome to go through all these just to claim the business that is yours. But think positively – the verification process is for Google to confirm that your business is legitimate and that you’re the business owner. If they don’t have this process, anyone could simply claim it as their business and pretend to be the business owner.
Make sure that every relevant section of your listing is complete. Imagine being a customer seeing this incomplete information, would you trust this business?
4) Optimize “Google My Business” For local SEO Marketing
Once you’ve claimed your “Google My Business”, here comes the optimization part. A study by Gybo showed that users are very much influenced to businesses with a complete listing before intending to visit a store or purchase from it.
When optimizing your Google My Business listing, pick the exact match of your business category. Many businesses think that choosing multiple category listings is better, but the truth is – it’s not.
Google prefers businesses that categorize their listing under the most relevant category. For example, if you’re an Italian restaurant, you should pick the category “Italian restaurant” instead of just “restaurant”. When optimizing Google My Business, don’t forget to:
- Write a solid description for your business.
- List your business in the right category.
- Update your business operating hours.
- Types of payments accepted.
- Upload the logo or the photo of your business for people to recognize it.
- Add at least ten quality photos of your products or services.
- Check the most popular times of the day and consider Google Adwords to drive visitors.
- Use the new Google Posts feature to stand out.
5) Get More Reviews From Your Customers
Reviews from customers are an important element in businesses. Based on a survey done by Search Engine Journal, 88% of people trust online reviews.
Most people are active on social media platforms, so it’s not difficult to get more reviews at all. There are many social media tools out there like Hootsuite that allows you to monitor your social media accounts all in one dashboard. So whenever you get a review from customers, you can respond to it right away.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a positive or negative review, be sure to respond to it because it shows your customers that you care about their feedback.
Based on experience, there are two places that are important, which needs focus the most are your Facebook page and Google My Business page.
These are the places where people search the most, especially when they’re looking for your address. So you’d want to pay more attention to this. Even Google itself also said that positive reviews from customers would improve your business visibility. Shouldn’t we take this as a hint that reviews might be one of the factors in local ranking?
If you’d like to get your gold stars review seen in the search results, go to the Google Developers Structured Data page to enable Rich Snippets for Reviews and Ratings.
6) Use Local Structured Data Markup
Many business owners do not realize this – schema markup or structured data markup is very important and it should be added to your website’s code for search engines to get more information about your business.
How do you add this to your website? It can be added to your existing HTML microdata, the same goes to other tags used on your other web pages.
If you set this up correctly, you will have better chance to rank higher than your competitors. To check if your markup is properly implemented, use Google’s Structured Data Testing tool. From there, you can easily see if you’re doing it right and let you know the errors in your structured data so that you can fix them.
With the rise of voice search in 2017, schema markup can help to optimize your website for voice search because more and more people are using virtual assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana, and Alexa (especially for local businesses).
7) Publish More Locally Optimized Content
Well.. This is optional, but I do recommend this if you have the time to create more content for your website.
As you can see, people use search engines to look for more information. If your site can provide them the information, at the same time, giving them the location on where to get it, isn’t that very helpful? Another way to say this is that you’re providing every detail that users are looking for on your website. So there’s no need for them to visit another website for more information.
Seeing that search engines prefer fresh content, this is an excellent opportunity to publish content to answer the questions people are looking for. Most importantly, don’t forget to include your keywords in your:
- Page title.
- Meta description.
- H1, H2, and H3 tags.
- ALT text in the images.
- Anchor text.
Adding these on-page elements will help search engines to crawl your website and rank your site on Google.
8) Have A Mobile-Friendly Website For local search
I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll say it again. Since 2007, mobile users have been increasing until today, and it has exceeded the number of people using a desktop.
With this, Google has taken websites that are mobile-friendly as a ranking factor. So if your website is still not mobile-friendly, think about how many potential customers you’re losing.
Not just that, page speed is also another factor that should be taken into consideration when it comes to local SEO. With too many things loading on your website, it will slow things down and increases your bounce rate.
To avoid that from happening, optimize your images, enable Gzip compression, and remove all the unused plugins. If you’re not sure what’s keeping your website slow, use the PageSpeed tools by Google Developers to find out what you can do.
Start Optimizing Local SEO To Grow Your Business
There you have it! The eight most effective tips to dominate local search for your local SEO marketing in 2017.
But before we wrap this up, I have another bonus tip for you.
Although we do have competitors within the community, cooperating with each other isn’t a bad idea too. Try to approach them to exchange backlinks as it is a huge ranking metric in SEO. Let’s say you’re just a coffee shop, and you don’t provide many choices of food; you can then look for pastries shop and come up with a campaign together.
Not only this will help to keep the customers satisfied, but it is also a win-win situation for both businesses. You’re expanding your horizons.
To wrap up, here’s a quick checklist for you to start optimizing for local SEO and grow your business:
- Add keywords in your on-page elements to boost your local SEO.
- Complete your business contact information such as name, address, and phone number (NAP) for customers to look for you.
- Encourage customers to leave quality reviews based on the experience they’ve had with your business.
- Respond to all the reviews, be open-minded. Negative reviews are one of the ways for you to understand where else you can do better in your business.
- Add at least ten quality photographs of your business in your profile for customers to recognize your business easily.
- Stay active. Keep your business profile updated with the latest news.
Want to grow your business? Consider a local search engine optimization Expert
Looking for the best local search company for your small business? Bradley Shaw has a strong history of successful online marketing campaigns since 1997. His team is ready to launch your online visibility!