In our technological age, more and more people are turning to the internet for solutions to their questions and needs. As a result, just about every business out there has created a website. Most people don’t scroll past the first half of the very first results page, so ranking at the top is crucial. As a small business owner, your most relevant traffic most likely comes from local searches. Here are 6 tips on how to handle your small business local SEO.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO refers to boosting your ranking in the results page for local searches. In other words, local SEO applies to searches for businesses near where potential customers live. Effective strategies help you to boost your organic search visibility, which can help boost the number of visits to your website (and your physical store), your sales, and your number of customers.
Optimize for Local Searchers
Keywords are an integral component of SEO optimization. Targeting your keywords for your local market can be exceptionally helpful, especially seeing as high rankings for local searches are much less competitive. For instance, let’s say that you run a bakery in Springfield, and you want to target the keywords “bread bakery.” If you target only the phrase “bread bakery,” you may have to compete with just about every bread bakery in the US. Targeting “Springfield bread bakery” on the other hand, allows you to only compete with other local bakeries who are also working on SEO optimization for their websites.
Don’t be afraid to go after longtail keywords. Longtail keywords often convert better and are much easier to rank for. A good starting point for any new SEO campaign is to focus on longtail keywords to start and then after you feel you are making headway switch your focus to more competitive keyword terms.
Backlinks are links from other sites that lead to yours. Google likes these types of links, when they’re relevant, and they can significantly boost your ranking on a local search. Optimize your backlinks by gaining entries from other locally-optimized sites, including sites for the city, the local Chamber of Commerce, and local newspapers or magazines.
Some California SEO Companies utilize local link building to help their clients. Stuart McHenry of McKremie says “We look for local link building opportunities that make sense for our clients. Often times we partner with other local business that are also looking to promote their business.”
Some other good examples of local link building opportunities are business associates, a local chamber of commerce, local sponsorship opportunities, and event-based marketing. Event-based can be easier but most of the time requires a sponsorship of some kind.
Get Listed in Business Listing
You can easily boost your local SEO by taking the time to get listed in local directories. Many people use local searches to find out information about a business, and most use a local search to confirm a business location. If you aren’t listed in a directory, potential customers might not know that you exist. Or, if your name does appear, but the information isn’t filled in, potential customers will consciously choose another business simply because their information is complete. If you find that you have been listed, but your information hasn’t been filled out, claim your business.
When getting yourself listed, don’t just submit your information to any old directory though. Putting your information on a spammy site could actually do substantial harm and result in no SEO presence at all. Look to get listed on sites that are meant for locals, such as the Chamber of Commerce, and that have good traffic volume. Make sure that, when listing with local directories, you include your name, address, and phone number, as well as your hours of operation and a brief description of your business.
Word of caution doesn’t go to crazy with low-quality SEO Directories. List your website with authority business listing websites. Companies like Yelp, Google, Bing, Manta, Local.com and SuperPages to start. It is really important to be consistent with listing your business name, address, and phone number. If done correctly this is a positive signal for search engine algorithms.
Create a Google My Business Account
One of the easiest ways to get your business out in front of local searches is with a Google My Business account. This is a profile of your business that appears when your business is searched for specifically. In many cases, businesses in a local search are often displayed above the number one spot on the results page, which can really boost your visibility. This account can also be helpful in other Google search functions such as Maps. Simply by entering “bakeries near me,” your business can be included in the search.
Google My Business profiles that have images of their business will get a higher click-through rate. It’s a good idea to add as many images as you can. Not only does it keep your profile looking fresh but it gives your customer more of an idea what your business is about.
Stuart McHenry also explains, “Some of the biggest mistakes people make with Google My Business are putting their business in the wrong categories and not listing their hours correctly. For some reason, many business owners list their hours as 24/7 and not the real business hours.”
The Importance of Reviews
Good reviews not only encourage potential customers to visit your business but can also play a role in how you rank in a Google search. While reviews might only make up a small percentage of how search engines rank you, the frequency, quantity, and diversity of your reviews can make a difference.
Google also allows you to ask customers for reviews, websites like Yelp do not. If you want to get more reviews simply ask your past customers. If you want to be more proactive you can use review software companies like gather up. gather up helps you build reviews in a professional and effective manner. They also have a widget you can display on your website that shows some of your reviews. This is a great tool that will help out with conversion as well because it builds trust in your potential customers.
Content is Still King
Blogging can be an incredibly powerful form of content marketing. In fact, many businesses can see great traffic from these posts, especially when they’re optimized for local SEO. With effective blog posts, you can help to position yourself right in front of the locals in your area.
You can start by planning out what topics you’d like to cover on your blog. Be sure to do some keyword research to understand the traffic you can get from your articles. Then it is best practice to create a content calendar. This way you can plan out how many articles you want to create per week and when they should be published.
Local SEO is essential for boosting your ranking in the search results page. With the right strategy, you will rank higher which can greatly help to increase your visitors, both online and in store, and turn those visitors into sales and new customers!