What is local SEO?Local SEO is a local business search engine marketing technique to improve visibility by ranking higher in local search results. It’s a digital marketing strategy where a business optimizes its site and brand presence to improve the positioning of its products and services to local prospects and customers searching for them online. Basically, search engines use the user’s location based on geolocation (for mobile) and IP address (for desktop) to ascertain the relevant results of local businesses, products, or services to be displayed to the user. That means you’re more likely to be found by potential customers if your business is close to where they conduct their search, provides the products or services they may be looking for, and is optimized for local SEO. Some of the popular strategies for improving local SEO include maintaining a Google My Business (GMB) profile, geotagging images, and optimizing online business directories. We’ll talk about them in some detail later in this article.
Why is local SEO important for small businesses?Did you know that 46 percent of all Google searches are looking for local information? Therefore, small businesses looking to promote their brick-and-mortar store or boost the visibility of their digital operations can get in front of the right customers at the right time with local SEO . Let’s deep dive into how small businesses can benefit by implementing local search engine optimization services:
1. Boost brand visibilitySearch engines provide relevant results for geographically related searches based on the prominence, relevance, and proximity of the business. Therefore, optimizing for local SEO helps you connect with the relevant customers at the top of the funnel, i.e. the discovery phase.
2. Convert potential leads into store customersLocal SEO tactics enable you to push potential customers down the sales funnel, i.e. from the awareness phase to the final purchase. Evidence shows that 76 percent of users who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a business within twenty-four hours, and 28 percent of those searches result in a purchase.
3. Beat the competitionDedicated local SEO helps you secure a sustainable competitive advantage by landing your store details or website in the top search queries versus your competitors.
4. Create strong map visibilityAccording to Forbes, about 30 to 40 percent of customers find local businesses in their area through maps. Having your business present on Google Maps will ensure users connect with you upon relevant search.
5. Earn long-lasting rankingsLocal SEO tactics help you rank on earch engine result pages (SERPs), the first page of a search engine when a user inputs a relevant query. Optimizing your content with respect to user intent and geography increases your chances of landing in SERPs. And you’re likely to hold that position for a considerable time with local SEO.
Local SEO checklistNow that we knowlocal SEO is important, how do we go about framing an efficient strategy? Are you unsure how to attract local customers to your business? Here’s a four-point checklist to tick as you go about formulating a local business SEO strategy to rank highly in local organic results:
1. Optimize your website for local SEOThe first step to reaching out to local customers starts with improving your website structure. Here’s what you need to take care of in your site:
- Identify the right local keywords for your business, products, and services;
- Implement on-page SEO by referencing hyperlocal content (geography-specific keywords) across different sections of the page. On-page SEO means using target keywords in the URL, title tags, meta description, and main content to boost search engine visibility;
- Improve your internal linking structure, i.e. link relevant and high-ranking pages to the current page;
- Build domain authority, i.e. secure backlinks from reputablesources that occasionally include location in the anchor text;
- Add a Google Map to the contact page to reflect directions to your business.
2. Optimize online directories and citationsGetting your business listed on local directories such as Google My Business, Bing Places, and Yelp improves your local search engine ranking. Here’s how:
- Create updated and consistent local citations across the platforms. Citations mean maintaining updated and consistent NAP (name, address, phone number) of your business;
- Check for discrepancies such as incomplete/wrong contact details, and misspellings;
- Publish and schedule posts in your local business listing;
- Remove duplicate listings in online directories.
3. Build a brand profile via Google My BusinessHaving a Google Business Profile increases your visibility in Google search and Google Maps and your potential customers can find you more easily. Here’s how you can get going:
- Get your GMB profile verified and add photos;
- Share the GMB page on social media platforms;
- Keep your contact information and operating hours up to date;
- Build customer testimonials and reviews;
- Respond authentically to reviews, specifying the location.
4. Perform a local SEO auditA well-strategized local SEO audit using professional SEO services will help fix the potential gaps and tap the best opportunities to improve local search visibility. Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself while performing a comprehensive local SEO audit:
- How does my Google My Business appear in SERPs?
- Does my site reflect all the on-page SEO elements?
- Are all of my citations correct in the top business directories?
- Is my site performing well on mobile?
- Are there any technical issues that I need to fix for my site?
Free local SEO toolsNow that you have a local SEO checklist, you can next bank on some of the readily available and most helpful local SEO tools. These tools can assist you with developing SEO-optimized keywords, and monitoring performance, and competitor insights. Here are some of the free plugins that you can explore:
1. GMB EverywhereWith the Chrome extension of GMB Everywhere, you’ll be able to see your Google My Business categories, check location rankings, and conduct live audits. You can even track competitors’ GMB posting timelines, investigate their content, and conduct live audits. With its Teleport feature, you can simulate a search from a specific location and be a part of the competition.
2. GMBspyWith the GMBspy Chrome extension, you can learn about your competitors’ GMB categories, an important ranking element by Google for local SEO. In fact, you can ascertain common GMB categories for any top twenty search results, in either Google Local Finder or Google Maps.
3. Local AdWords and Keyword ListsLocal AdWords and Keyword Lists is a free and effective local keyword generator. You’ll be able to ascertain local search terms and keywords to target and supplement your local SEO strategy. Enter your business zip code and shopping radius, and get specific regions and even abbreviations within that area and the target keywords to add and monitor for each.
Start leveraging professional SEO services
Local SEO can highly increase your store traffic. We can guarantee that lots of your competitors are currently using professional SEO services to get more customers and you’re falling behind! If you think you need to know more about SEO services for local businesses, contact us and we will guide you.