While it’s important to work on your global SEO, you can’t afford to ignore the value of local SEO. That’s especially crucial if you’re running a smaller business that operates on a local rather than a national level. Improving your local SEO specializes in enhancing your search results in a specific location. As such, optimizing for local SEO will result in increased web traffic, leads and conversions from your base of local customers. And if your business is not ranking highly for local searches, you could be losing out to competitors.
Improving SEO takes time, but here are a few simple steps to start dominating your local search right now.
1. Create and Optimize Your Google My Business Profile
Start by claiming your Google My Business profile. This is a business listing that ensures your business appears on Google Maps and shows up for local searches. It is a valuable tool for getting local prospects who are already searching for your products and services.
Whenever a user searches” photographer near me”, for example, Google will display a big map on the top of the screen as well as information on photography companies listed in the main search results such as the name, contacts, address, website and review for each business. It’s important to realize that this information often comes from the companies’ Google My Business profile page. Without a page set up, therefore, your business could be missing out on a valuable opportunity to position itself in front of customers.
Claiming a listing is free and will only take a few minutes or so to complete. You also need to have a physical location and street address to set up.
- Verifying your listing
- Including your business logo, acceptable payment methods, hours of operation, description of the products and services you sell and plenty of images.
- Provide up to date, accurate information
- Encourage your customers to leave online reviews
- Respond sincerely to customer reviews
2. Get Reviews
Reviews have a significant role to play in establishing your brand’s credibility. Getting glowing reviews for your business will not only optimize your Google My Business listing but also encourage more local customers to buy from you. When people have to decide between several brands, they’ll read through reviews. If they like what they read about your company, they’re going to click on your site. Consequently, you’re going to have a higher click-through rate, an important indicator to Google.
- Train your staff to ask for reviews after the close of a sale.
- Send a text or post-purchase email to a pre-screened list of customers or clients telling them about the importance of leaving a review.
- Leverage a variety of tools you can use to garner, track and manage reviews proactively.
- Respond to existing reviews, thanking reviewers and proactively addressing negative reviews.
3. Optimize for Voice Search
Voice search is already growing in popularity, especially with the proliferation of voice technology. When it comes to local SEO, it’s important to optimize for how people speak naturally into devices, rather than how they type out their queries on search engines.
Essentially, you’ll have to adjust the SEO of your content to fit a more conversational tone, by using natural language, long-tail keywords or conversational keywords, for example. Another good strategy is to account for the traditional conversation starters (who, what, where, when, how and why).
You also want to consider user intent when optimizing for voice as users are more likely to perform searches when they need a specific piece of information.
4. Focus on Building Localized Content
Many brands have the same content for all locations while others merely find and replace the city name. Well, optimizing for local SEO requires you to do more than just that. You need to do some research to make your content relevant, useful and engaging to each location’s neighborhood.
Some strategies include:
- Creating blog posts about local stories, news, events, and activities
- Posting videos about local programs or charities and causes your business supports
- Creating local-specific web pages on your site with hyperlocal content if you serve different parts of a wider region
If you’re running a local legal practice, you can create different web pages for each of the locations you serve, where you can post hyperlocal content around news and events or changes in the local laws. This strategy would also help you get a higher ranking for each specific location.
5. Optimize Your Website for Mobile
Several studies have revealed the ever-increasing shift from desktop to mobile use. Mobile is the future. And this is even more true for local businesses, as more customers turn to their handheld devices when looking for products and services. If you’re not yet optimized for mobile, get up to speed.
Here are some tips to bear in mind:
- Ensure your website is mobile responsive, so your customers have a seamless user experience when they visit your site.
- Ensure your website loads quickly (about three seconds or less)
- Make use of bigger fonts that are easy to read
- Avoid filler by using images and copy sparingly and staying focused on conveying only the most relevant information.
6. Make Use of Local Keywords
Optimizing your content with local keywords will help specific pages to rank locally. For example, your title tag for a blog post could be “legal services Ohio”. Search engines will get the signal that the page is tied directly to Chicago, and thus will be more likely to show up in searches for people looking or legal services in Ohio.
You can take advantage of Google’s Keyword planner that lets you filter keyword terms based on location, so you get a drift of the popular search terms for a given region. As such, you can create a list of locally relevant keywords for your copy, URLs and meta content.
7. Take Advantage of Local Business Directories
Give searchers an easier time of finding you by establishing a presence on popular local business directories and review sites for your industry such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, and the Better Business Bureau, among others. Each local profile you create widens your reach and acts like another platform for searchers to land on. This is an incredible way to boost your local SEO and demonstrate social proof, which can help to increase your brand loyalty.
8. Pay Attention to The Small Things
It’s often easy overlook small details when posting an image or blog post, but paying attention to detail can make a world of difference. For example, HTML elements such as meta titles and description tags are just as crucial as the content or image itself. Search engines include these details in their results, so it’s essential that the wording is concise and relevant to the local market.