Don’t bother promoting the physical location of your business until you’ve primed your online presence with these five simple steps.
With all of the buzz about website optimization and mobile integration in today’s digital world, it’s easy to forget about the online needs of your brick-and-mortar business. Google recently reported that searches with a “nearby” location qualifier have doubled in the past year—highlighting the importance of local SEO for promoting local business growth.
Improving Local SEO
While local SEO requires implementing unique strategies, many of them are straightforward and well within reach of most small business owners:
The percentage of customers that read reviews, as found by BrightLocal
1. Get More Reviews
Online reviews demonstrate your quality and influence. In the mobile age, customers aren’t willing to take a chance on unknown businesses. The more reviews you have, the better—A 2014 Customer Survey Review by BrightLocal showed that 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as an in-person recommendation. In addition, the survey showed that 72 percent of consumers trusted a local business more after reading online reviews.
To improve your local SEO, gather positive reviews on a variety of media sites, including Yelp, Facebook, Google, or any other industry-relevant pages. To begin the process of slow and steady review generation, integrate user-facing review options into your web platform and make customer review options easy for consumers to find.
2. Optimizing for Local Keywords and Directories
To guarantee that your page ranks well in local search, you need to include optimized keywords plus your location in your URL, page title, and headings. Make sure that the local city that you’re trying to rank for is mentioned in the body of your content.
Your goal here is to give Google’s search algorithm more things to pick up—try to incorporate information and news on local events that Google will correlate with your local region. Utilizing local directories can make a big impact here. Determine what directories rank the highest in search for the keywords relevant to your industry, and make sure that your business has a presence in all of them. Make sure your business information is standardized too—providing consistent information on your business name, address, local phone number, and other contact information lets Google know that you are where you say you are.
Despite the impact that directories have on local SEO, research by MarketingSherpa showed that only 37 percent of small businesses have claimed a local business listing on a search engine. Verify your data’s accuracy on Google’s My Business directory as a start to ensure your information is out there for others to find.
3. Building Links and Connections
Link-building may seem old fashioned, but linking still has a noticeable impact on organic search rankings. You need to be careful here, though—Google is too advanced to fall for the old linking tricks that artificially inflated SEO value.
To avoid Google penalties and build a library of quality, value-driving links, a good strategy is to partner with other industry insiders. By building personal connections, it becomes easier to build a reputable link profile based on mutual exchange of viewers and information. The benefits of this go beyond SEO, though. Better link building can translate into:
- Higher web traffic
- More business referrals and conversions
- More opportunities to provide value to your readership
4. Mobile Optimization
On April 21st 2015, Google changed the rules of the game by making mobile-friendliness a ranking factor in organic search. This means that having a mobile-optimized site will automatically give you a leg up on businesses who have neglected to take the plunge. Some businesses have already felt the impact of this algorithm update—don’t be a slow adopter in this area.
5. Promoting Local Content
What better way to market locally than to provide information about events in your nearby area? Writing about significant local events can be a goldmine of SEO value, particularly when the event in question draws a large amount of natural web traffic. Research local events and plan your content marketing around them.
Creating Lifetime Value
The underlying principle behind any SEO effort is to let the needs of your audience come before your SEO goals. To apply these ideas to your local SEO outreach, make sure that your business is listed in all relevant local directories, your location-based keywords are optimized, and you have a solid portfolio of shared links. Yes, you’re increasing your local SEO value, but you’re also streamlining the searching process for your users. When you give them high-value content that’s easy to find, better website authority and more organic traffic comes as a matter of course.
What other tricks have you used to increase the impact of your local SEO? Let us know in the comments below!