Since customers are now searching for products and services nearest them, businesses must pay attention to the importance of local SEO. For sure, you would want your business to show up fast on the local search results at the exact time when potential customers are looking for something.
Unlike global SEO, local search engine optimization requires a unique and targeted market approach to help you connect with your immediate customers. The main goal of local SEO is to help small businesses become visible and available for local clients. If you’re a brick-and-mortar business owner, you would want to win against other market competitors in your area and make sure that all local signals popping up on Google search results are directed to your site. This comprehensive guide is created to help SEO professionals and business owners gain a better understanding of local search optimization.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is a specific SEO marketing technique aiming to increase the online visibility of any local business operating within its geographical location. This often involves website design, content creation, competitor analysis, keyword research, and other SEO components made for local brick-and-mortar establishments. While general SEO services are meant for boosting online presence on a global scale, local SEO is directed towards connecting visitors to local enterprises.
Why is Local Search Important?
Local search means a lot for local businesses as more than half of the customers now use mobile devices to find stores, products, and services close to them. Consumers depend heavily on the internet for local information, direction, and contact details, whether they use browsers or mobile phones. Before visiting any physical store, they conduct thorough local searches to look for the business address to verify its existence. Research studies also indicated that over 18% of local mobile searches were converted to sales on a daily basis.
Local searches are also beneficial for specialized business services, such as medical clinics, law firms, and home repair shops. Medical offices, for instance, may establish a quick connection with clients by placing a call button on their website, so patients can automatically set up an appointment. Clients also prefer to look for medical professionals within their vicinity for a routine checkup or any case of emergency. And if you own a restaurant, customers can easily find your place when they look for customer reviews or business information in the local search results.
Top 10 Local Search Ranking Factors
Constantly updating your website should form part of your strategy as search engine algorithms keep changing each day. If you want your business to rank higher for local SEO, you need to know the ranking factors that influence your website performance, particularly on the local area. Check out below:
1. Google My Business
Claiming your Google My Business page is one of the most effective ways when boosting your local SEO. Your business name, current address, and phone numbers should remain consistent across all social media platforms, online directories, marketing materials, and pages. When filling up an application form, make sure to fill out every section with as many details as possible to fully optimize your search capability. You should also categorize your business correctly to help page visitors locate you, among other similar or related businesses.
Aside from Google, you may also utilize Bing Places to enhance your local SEO. Similar to the GMB application, fill out each section with accurate details before claiming your Bing Places business account.
2. Google My Business Categories
As mentioned earlier, you have to select the correct category for your business within Google My Business page. Only use as few categories as possible to avoid losing foot traffic for your website.
3. Impressive photos on Google My Business page
Photos can act as a local ranking signal while helping your business establish credibility. Consider posting pictures of your products, services, store location, and even customers as part of your business profile. Whenever possible, only use professionally-taken photos to make your GMB page appear real to your target audience.
4. Online Citations
Citations are now a valuable local ranking signal, so make sure you have signed up with these popular online directories listed below:
- Apple Maps
- Yahoo’s Localworks
5. Review Sites
Business reviews may significantly influence customer decisions on whether to visit your shop or look elsewhere. Consumer reviews, which are gathered through texts, emails, and social media responses, are effective for building customer loyalty and boosting revenues. There are numerous review websites with business listings you must claim aside from online directories. Consider signing up with these platforms:
- Angie’s List
6. Positive Reviews
Positive reviews generally create a strong impact on your business by improving its online visibility. High-quality customer reviews can enhance online business visibility by as much as 60%, according to Google.
7. Business Reviews with Relevant Keywords
When your customers mention your location or any relevant keywords on their reviews, this automatically sends signals to search engines that you’re operating a legitimate business. Consumer reviews with a detailed response also contribute to your local SEO efforts.
Negative reviews with no response from you can affect local search signals. This only indicates that you need to exert more effort in responding to online reviews to help your business go up the page ranks.
8. Facebook Business Page
Many consumers use Facebook as a search engine when searching for credible product reviews or community forums. Make sure to create your own Facebook business page and regularly update the content similar to your official website. Social signals may only generate a limited impact, but these can contribute heavily to your SEO marketing drive.
9. Mobile Responsiveness
Since Google is now using a mobile-first indexing system to rank websites, it would be wiser to make your website responsive on different mobile devices. Over 60 percent of online consumers look for information through mobile screens, so imagine the vast opportunity awaits your business once you release a mobile version of your site.
10. Social Media Listing
To further boost your local SEO, claim other social listings on different social sites, including Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Instagram. However, if you can’t manage all your social media accounts, consider hiring someone to help out with your local SEO activities. A simple social media post inviting users to follow your brand or call you seems more than enough to increase your local search signals. People always expect a quick response from businesses on social, so be sure to leave your contact information if you don’t have any plan to stay active on your social channels.
How to Get More Local Link Opportunities
In link building, a trustworthy and authoritative domain linking back to your website is necessary to establish credibility. If you plan to build links for a brick-and-mortar store, however, you will need all the local SEO components, which can be found within your geographical area. SEO experts, in fact, focus on the following components:
- Building links (local setup)
- Building up citation listings
- Updating business details such as name, address, and contact information
- Creating localized content
- Establishing local social media networks
The above-mentioned SEO tasks are conducted to establish a strong online presence for your business relevant to a specific search term. They also allow you to create organic search results for your geo-targeted keywords using various business directories. To get started, you need to find directories, update business details, and build citations only related to your industry.
Citations offer the opportunity to place your business information on various websites, allowing your business to be seen on random searches. You can build citations using services like Yext and Moz Local.
In local SEO, link opportunities seem more difficult to establish since you’re competing with less-authoritative sites and hyper-local keywords, which usually have low search volume. Despite this limitation, you may still build local links with some help from the following local sources:
- Online newspapers and media organizations
- Event pages from tourism sites and business organizations
- Bloggers with a large number of local followers
- Charitable institutions
- Private sponsors
- Social groups sharing a similar interest
- Local businesses open to partnerships
You should explore other local businesses in your area to discover more opportunities to build links. Additionally, you may utilize local blog sites, review websites, and social media platforms to promote your products and services. If you do this, you can get fresh ideas on how other market competitors have created local links within the limited SEO landscape.
Content That Boost Local SEO
As the SEO landscape keeps changing all the time, building links using directories and NAP footer details are no longer enough to improve local SEO ranking. You definitely need high quality, custom-made content with few touches of the local scene to effectively promote your website. Content creation still remains one of the most effective methods to rank for localized search terms. Here are some examples of content which you can use for your local SEO strategy:
1. Regional Landing Page
Content could win or lose customers, particularly if you’re competing within the local SEO space. Since website creation is time-consuming, you may try creating a regional-based landing page if you need to make a city-specific landing page in multiple locations. Before you make these regional landing pages, however, you should analyze consumer behavior and market performance to understand your audience better.
2. Locally-specific Landing Page
A landing page for a city-specific place is necessary to welcome new and existing customers to your website, especially if you operate in multiple locations. You may find it easier to rank in the local search results if you have a separate page on every location. It is advisable to keep your page simple, preferably a single page for every location to rank your local keywords well.
One of the most effective strategies for improving local SEO is to offer customers a diverse range of affordable package rates and special discounts. Since everyone is searching for great deals over the internet, giving away incredible discounts can easily lure customers to your website. By offering discounts to local residents, you’re making them feel special while helping your business reach the top of the SERPs.
FAQ pages are becoming a one-stop-shop guide for local businesses wanting to answer direct customer queries. Local industries are seeing a remarkable shift in how consumers appreciate content today as voice search continues to gain popularity. In fact, nearly 70% of mobile searches, including voice searches, are related to geographical locations. Any small-scale business can become a featured snippet if FAQ pages are optimized for local search.
5. Local Event Partnership
Creating constant partnerships with local events can further boost your local SEO. However, if you don’t have the budget to sponsor your own event, then you can talk about the current events happening in your area. Also, consider offering various local experiences related to tourism, cultural exposure, and food. Local sponsorships may help you receive backlinks, customer referrals, and wider exposure on the local scene.
6. Blog and Web Content
Blogging is an effective communicating tool you can use to engage directly with your target local audience. Maintaining an active blog will definitely help improve page ranking, especially if you’re up against the best in the local SERPs. If you aren’t sure where to get started, you can try some of these interesting topics:
1. New store or business announcement
2. Bargain deals, annual warehouse sales, and best places where to find cheaper alternatives
3. Local policy announcement (city or municipal ordinances)
4. Product announcements
5. New infrastructure projects for the local residents
6. Interviews & testimonials of public figures
7. Comprehensive Guides
Creating a bunch of “best of” list may spur up interest from your local readers about a specific topic. These guides may include topics about local tourism, neighborhood guidelines, pet care, and shopping spots.
1. Press release
2. Local eBooks
3. Literature writing
4. Construction guides (home improvement or renovation)
If you want customers to find your local business online, whether your physical store or website, you need to create hyper-local content. But make sure to generate topics relevant to current trends or local traditions.
How to Optimize Your Google My Business Listings
Creating a Google My Business (GMB) listing is the initial step towards any successful local search campaign. GMB offers easy access for businesses seeking more exposure on the local market. And the great news is that this Google tool is free.
GMB listings may provide local businesses additional avenues to inform the public about their current address, operating hours, category and customer reviews. Once your business has been registered, a Google Maps location is automatically created, synchronizing with Google search for easy access. Before completing the GMB application, it is recommended to conduct prior research using Google search to ensure your business doesn’t have any existing page. Here’s how you can optimize GMB to give your business the most leverage:
1. Claiming Your Google My Business Page
You just need to claim your GNB listing if you’ve been operating your business for a while. Google will notify you if there’s already a listing for your business or if someone else has already claimed it. Verification may require at least seven working days to complete.
If your business isn’t yet created, you may now start setting it up by registering your official business name, followed by other important details. Make sure to categorize your business properly, preferably the best relevant category, if possible, so you can optimize your brand page. You will then be asked if you prefer to add a location to help customers easily find you, particularly if you own a brick-and-mortar shop. But if you prefer not to show your physical store in the maps, just select the service area pertaining to your business.
When filling out details, indicate all valuable information, including contact details, business address, website URL, and operating hours, whether you want to deliver services in a brick-and-mortar store or somewhere within the locality. GMB also lets you indicate how far your business is willing to deliver products or services. Once completed, click the Finish button to submit your business listing for approval.
However, before your business can go active, you should verify your GMB listing, which can be done via postcard mail to prove to Google you can manage the business yourself or represent it in a legal capacity. Google will not display your business information until everything has been verified.
2. Inputting All Details for Your Listing
Local businesses offering the most comprehensive details will receive the most favorable results for searches. Make sure to indicate what your business can offer or how customers can easily access your products or services. Include essential topics like delivery options, special discounts, payment options, product catalogs, and customer testimonials.
Since Google uses a broad range of signals in serving relevant search results to users, you can maximize keywords to generate interest. Utilizing search phrases in your business listing can help boost your local SEO campaign, especially if you use keywords whenever you update your business description or release a new blog content.
3. Keeping Business Hours Updated
Indicating your business hours are very important for your customers. If you need to adjust your operating hours due to certain events like extended hours, annual maintenance, or store closure, for instance, make sure to update your GMB listing and website whenever possible. Fortunately, Google offers the ability to personalize your operating hours during legal holidays and special public events to accommodate the specific needs of your customers.
You can update your business profile on GMB to keep readers informed if you operate differently than the usual hours because of government mandate and safety regulations related to the COVID-19 crisis. Google has even added new features to the GMB platform to make communication between customers and local enterprises a lot more convenient.
4. Adding Photos
Impressive photos significantly elevate the performance of any business listing. If your business contains image content, it will likely receive more click-through conversions as well as request for driving directions using Google Maps. Photos are also effective to display clearer details of your product, especially if you post it with real-life customers who have already tested the product themselves.
5. Responding to Customer Reviews
Responding to inquiries or customer reviews is an effective form of interaction that helps you establish a relationship with customers, regardless if you receive positive or negative feedback. Remember that positive reviews may possibly entice customers to visit your page or physical store while allowing your business to increase its online visibility. Apart from encouraging your customers to leave comments, you may also allow them to send messages. But if you want to maximize the performance of your GMB listing, be sure to send a response within 24 hours or even faster.
6. Releasing Local Posts
Use your Google My Business listing to feature offers, local events, and services to keep your online presence afloat on Google. You can make the most out of your featured post if you keep it error-free, accurate, and specific for your local audience. When creating a local post, it is always suggested to make it respectful, visual, and accessible to various authoritative links.
7. Creating Product Catalogs
Google My Business offers an intuitive Product Editor feature that allows merchants to display products and services relevant to local searches. As long as you’re running a small-scale enterprise, you are entitled to utilize this Google feature. Providing valuable details like product specifications, discounts, and photos can keep customers engaged with your business on top of frequent customer response. Larger enterprises, on the other hand, are advised to use Local Inventory Ads to showcase products and services.
In addition to product catalogs, you may utilize other digital sources to optimize your GMB listing as follows:
- Business logo
- Cover photo representing the personality of your brand
- Exterior and interior photos (physical store)
- Marketing videos
- Product demos
- Virtual tour (3D walkthrough (where applicable)
Why Social Signals is Important for Local Business
In local SEO, social media marketing still plays a huge role in creating greater online visibility for your business. With millions of active social media users flooding the internet world each day, any local business can generate enormous social signals no matter what type of social media platform these businesses want to use. Ignoring the need to incorporate social media into your marketing plan may potentially result in conversion loss and incapacity to generate revenues. Here’s what social signals can efficiently deliver for your business:
- Receiving recommendations and referrals from random social media users
- Directly engaging your business with customers in resolving negative comments
- Enhancing brand awareness and online visibility through social media conversations
- Increasing numbers of local click-through
- Improving your business strategies according to customer reviews, social interaction, and consumer behavior
- Analyzing social media strategies and behavior of other local competitors
- Cutting Your Ad cost through local advertising
- Providing you the chance to analyze interest, demographic details, sales preferences, and price requirements of your target audience
- Learning more about your qualified leads using social media marketing funneling and targeted advertising
- Easy promotion of new products and services
- Building up brand followers, online communities, local sponsorship, and backlinks from authoritative domains
- Establishing a brand reputation from satisfied customers through excellent customer service
- Quick access to free mass publicity
- Building partnerships with local organizations, both private and public
- Quick access to prominent social influencers in the local neighborhood
With today’s digital business landscape, everyone on social media, business platforms, and public forums is now being located and analyzed based on the things they usually do. Since businesses have now become local, it would be best to completely optimize your brand for local searches in order not to lose the grip on top of the SERPs.
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