More than 85 percent of customers use search engines to find local products and services. For business owners, this is simply a crystal indication that the internet offers an opportunity to grow your business.
As such, you need a robust online marketing strategy to improve your online presence and make your business stand out in the SERPs. One of the effective approaches you can start utilizing now is local SEO.
Local SEO is typically an online marketing approach for optimizing your website to target local customers. This technique allows potential clients and customers to easily find your business online in SERPs, social media, and business listing services.
In this post, we're going to share all you need to know about SEO for local businesses.
Let's get right into it.
1. Website Optimization
Your website is not just your business's virtual face for showcasing your products and services. It's a powerful marketing tool that can help you attract paying leads.
The first task you want to do is optimize your site for local search. For example, your business is located in Montreal, and you offer air conditioning repair. You can simply combine your service or target keyword and location to create: air conditioning repair in Montreal.
Make sure this keyword-location combination is used in your title and meta description. Plus, it should be inserted into the content of your site moderately. Be sure not to spam your content with the keyword as that will hurt your rankings.
When inserting the combination into your meta description, try to ensure it's close to the beginning of the tag. Don't forget to use the keyword exactly as it is on your service page's permalink. For example, www.XYZ.com/air-conditioning-repair-montreal/.
Basically, this technique allows Google to show your business in SERPs for people looking for air conditioning repair services in Montreal.
2. Google My Business Page
Google My Business (GMB) is a free business listing directory, but it deserves its own section in this post. This is because it has become an important tool for people to add or claim their business. Most importantly, it helps businesses to give a virtual tour of their business to clients.
You can share your hours of operation, phone number, and address with your customers on your GMB page. This page also lets you share photos of your favorite menu items or products with customers.
With the Google Street View tool, you can hire professional and certified photographers to take 360-degree photos of your business. You can then upload these pictures to your GMB page to offer a virtual tour of your business.
When you update your page, your listing will update across Google Maps and search. You can optimize your GMB page with a solid business description, categories and types of accepted payments. It's advisable to fully fill every section of your profile to complete the listing.
In the long run, this will help to boost your online visibility and in-store traffic.
3. Online Business Directories
Another important element of local SEO is creating listings on business directories, such as Yelp, Citysearch, Yext, Localworks, and Bing Places.
Adding or claiming your business on these services allows you to get citations for your business. Also, you can add your business details to the local business association and the local chamber of commerce pages. They don't have to link to your website for you to get citations.
Essentially, citations help to boost your rankings of SERPs. Local business with a high number of citations will probably rank higher than those with fewer citations. They're even effective in those less competitive niches, such as electrical and plumbing, where many businesses don't have websites.
An example of a well-indexed portal is the Superpages.com. Citations from such portals can help search engines to be certain about your business information.
Getting your business information on major data aggregators, such as Factual, Acxiom, and Neustar, and Infogroup is also important. Always ensure that your information is consistent on as many citation sites and directories as possible.
4. Online Reviews Are Important
Up to 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews when shopping for services and products on the internet. So, if you want to build a solid brand or business trust, you'll need to strive to earn positive reviews.
Online reviews have become important particularly for those in the hotel and restaurant business. Your reviews of Google My Business, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Glassdoor, and Facebook are valuable to clients.
About 22 percent of customers won't buy your product or service after reading one negative review. Typically, this means that several bad reviews can take a lot of potential customers away.
Another point to consider is that having no reviews at all can also be a bad thing. This might mean your business is new or not popular. Some customers tend to be reluctant to try something new. Others rely on other customers' experience to use a service or buy a product.
The bottom line is that having lots of positive reviews is good for business. It helps you to build brand reputation and trust from customers quickly. However, that shouldn't push you into the temptation of faking reviews. With the talk of “fake news” these days, faking reviews will cost you.
Other Essential Tips for Local SEO
In addition to the above points, there are several other things you can do to maximize your SEO efforts. These include:
- Local link building: Strive to establish relationships with local businesses related to your industry. Earning links from such businesses helps to boost your SERP rankings.
- Using social media: Engage your local customers on social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Google pulls search results from social media, and this can boost your visibility.
- Hosting local events: Hosting events allow you to get media coverage and this can offer long-term positive impact. Media is a reliable, third-party source which can help to drive customers to your business.
The Bottom Line
Like most marketing techniques, local SEO needs time and resources. Don't expect to see instant results but it can be a great investment in the long run.
So, if you're eager to stay ahead of the competition, strive to implement these techniques. Working with local influencers and bloggers is also another great approach that's gaining momentum among business owners. The good thing is that you can start today.