If you don’t have a website for your business yet, you’re missing out. More people are using the Internet to find businesses more than the traditional phonebook, and not being visible in search engines will hurt your bottom line. And, you need to develop strong local SEO marketing if you want to stay ahead of the competition.
Search engine optimization is a valuable asset when establishing your business. This is because nearby businesses are displayed first when someone uses their smartphones to search for products or services.
Even if you don’t plan on making sales from your website, it’s vital you have one geared for your local consumers. Even if it’s just a simple blog or pictures showing what you provide, it’s all about getting your brand on the Internet and in front of people.
In reality, nearly three-quarters of those who performed a local search visited a store within five miles of their location. About half of them did so within 24 hours. By appearing more prominent in search engines, it’s safe to assume you could very well increase your walk-in traffic.
What is Local SEO Marketing?
Local marketing is when you target consumers who are most likely to visit your brick-and-mortar location. It’s about engaging people who are within the vicinity of your business who may be interested in buying your products or services.
Here’s an example of local SEO in practice. Visit Google and input the term, “pizza.” The top results are local areas near you that provide pizza including hours of operation as well as ratings.
In fact, the search engine will scan through sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor for your specific city to show reviews on pizza places nearby.
This is the power behind local SEO marketing.
Why is Local SEO Important?
With the advancements of Internet technology and advertising methods, it’s simply easier to reach specific customers which is why it’s vital you dive into local SEO marketing. Chances are, you competition is doing just that.
Without a good strategy, you’re essentially giving money to other companies.
Your website needs to appear in the top of search results in order to compete, it’s that simple. I’m not saying you won’t have a degree of success as a business without local SEO marketing, but it will make an impact on your growth and bottom line income.
Also, take into consideration how many people are searching for companies by talking to their phones. It’s not enough to simply create good content. You also need to consider SEO for voice searching.
So, what can you do to make the most out of boosting brand awareness and increasing revenue? Here are 10 local SEO tips from experts across the web. Some of these you can implement right away to start seeing a difference in the short-term.
Tip 1: Understand How Your Domain Name Works
Many parts go into how people and search engines perceive a website. This goes beyond creating content, which I will cover in a moment. Here is a short breakdown of some of the more important aspects to consider:
- Your Domain Name
You want the domain name to reflect your business. However, you want to stay away from using cities or specific locations. What if you move? What if you expand and open another store in another area?
- Use “.com” when Possible
The “.com” suffix is one of the most recognized in the world. If it differs, it can create confusion or distrust among many. I know sometimes you won’t have a choice because a domain name is already taken, but try to use “.com” when registering the site.
- Keep it Short
A long domain name is difficult to type and remember for the average person. It also appears poorly in search engine results. Keep it as short and succinct as possible.
Domain names play a crucial role in the success of a site. Make sure it’s ready for the Internet.
Tip 2: Use Title and Description Tags Correctly
When creating content, whether it’s a blog post or a landing page, make sure you include optimized title and description meta tags. These are important as they are the primary focus of how search engines and visitors alike find your business online.
Never underestimate the value of creating amazing titles. It’s how people will find you in search and how sites like Google categorize your content.
You want to make sure your business name, location and the products you provide are easy to find. Think of it this way, the title of the site’s article is the actual link people see in Google and the description is the text that is below it. Do these elements represent your business in less than 200 characters?
If you use WordPress, tools like Yoast SEO make these much easier to create for optimization.
Tip 3: Enroll in Google My Business
Google My Business is a great platform to get you started. It’s essentially the launching point for any business to connect with local consumers. It comes with a variety of tools from displaying new products to gathering data about how customers find your business.
One thing you need to pay attention to, though, is keeping your information regularly updated. As listings are updated across the search engine as well as maps, you need to make sure your potential customers are getting the most current data possible.
For example, what if you changed your hours? Perhaps you got a new product in consumers might like and you want to share an image of it? You may also want to consider responding to reviews as it shows you value customer input.
All of this is done through the Google My Business platform.
Tip 4: Use Online Reviews
Reviews are a powerful thing to add to a website to engage a target consumer. In fact, as many as 84% of buyers trust reviews as often as they do personal friends. And, sites like Google add these to search engine results when applicable.
If you’re using eCommerce apps like Magento for your site, you may already have reviews running. If not, perhaps you should turn them on. Reviews give the common buyer a sense of getting the real “scoop” regarding a product or service. They’re associated with the input from past buyers, which is one of the reasons why they are so popular.
This is a bit different from the reviews you’d see in Google My Business. If you offer products or services online as well as through the brick-and-mortar location, people who research companies online will see the ratings of your products. It’s influential when determining whether or not the visitor will make a purchase.
Tip 5: Use Social Media
About 81% of the population in the United States use social media in some form. And businesses are jumping on the bandwagon for a myriad of purposes. Not only does it help engage the target consumer, but it also gives a platform to address issues and boost the customer experience.
Just don’t forget to be social in sites like Facebook and Twitter. You have to connect with consumers, and this means joining in conversations and replying to those who comment on your posts. It builds trust in the brand and makes the business feel more approachable.
Integrate more than just one channel, though. In other words, don’t merely focus on Facebook. Find what your target consumer uses the most and socialize on several platforms. It’ll expand your reach while making the brand more “likeable” on social media.
Make social accounts specifically for your business. You don’t want to tie in your personal interactions with that of your organization.
Tip 6: Build Relationships with Other Local Outlets
A good way to improve SEO is to have relevant backlinks. This demonstrates authority to search engines which increases your page rank. Perhaps one of the best ways to do this is by building a relationship with other local businesses or outlets to create these links.
For example, having a story written about your business by a local journalist who is published online links back to your brand. Perhaps there is a local organization that promotes businesses on their site, such as an advertised trade show. Is there a local charity you support, and will they be willing to link back to your site?
It all boils down to getting attention from those who are in your immediate area. You want as many arrows as possible pointing to your business on the Internet.
You’ll have to spend a bit of time looking in your area, but it may provide a boost to SEO if the right site links back to your own.
Tip 7: Practice Good Internal Links
Backlinks are great for SEO, but don’t forget to link internally. These are quite valuable in terms of local SEO marketing. Websites have been known to grow in page rank quite rapidly just from building good internal link structure. It tells search engines which content is the most important.
One of the most important things to remember when creating links within your own website is to make sure they are relevant to the content. Just like linking back out to other webpages, the content needs a relationship. For example, you wouldn’t link to a page covering fishing rods if the content is about automobiles.
Think of an internal link as giving the visitor access to more information that supports the material he or she is reading. It’s like you’re telling the reader, “for more information, click here.” Of course you wouldn’t want to use that text because it’s a poor anchor for the link.
Tip 8: Focus on Localizing Content
The city location and what you offer is a good place to start for creating content. However, adding more localized aspects helps boost awareness of your area. This is usually most beneficial for businesses that have more than one location.
Each page for the business should focus on something unique to its particular neighborhood or part of town. Is there an event nearby people will want to visit? What kind of elements are nearby that can relate to your operation?
This is known as hyper-localizing, and it’s often effective when engaging consumers within five miles. You don’t need to be a news service, but relating your business to events in the area helps create more of a localized connection with potential buyers.
Tip 9: Be Authentic
Listing the details of your business in various sites like Google and Yelp is important, but being authentic with information is paramount. This includes things like truthful descriptions, updating descriptions as often as possible and using high-quality images.
When taking pictures of your business or the products you provide, don’t attempt to alter them to appear “better” than they are. I know Photoshop is an incredible tool, but it’s often damaging to a brand’s reputation if you use it the wrong way.
Another way to deliver high authenticity is to address positive and negative reviews individually. Don’t simply copy and paste a standard response to certain types of criticism. People who read the reviews will quickly see through these posts and form a negative opinion based on your responses.
Tip 10: Focus on Brand Reputation
Your brand reputation will play a role in local SEO marketing. In fact, Google may adjust your visibility partially on the reviews of your customers. It’s important you address any concerns as quickly as possible to deliver the best experience for those who are buying your goods.
When people look at that little star rating from their smartphones, are they going to be inclined to visit your business? If the rating is poor, they will already begin to form a bad impression before the customers even begin to read the reviews themselves.
Use negative reviews as a form of constructive criticism. Some claims are often outlandish and not indicative to the general experience. However, the more detailed forms of critiques are usually quite informative about what practices or changes you should consider.
Perhaps one of the most effective methods of boosting a business is by delivering a superior customer experience. It will contribute to whether or not a customer shares your brand with friends and family through social media.
A happy customer is a repeat customer.
Local SEO Marketing Improves Visibility
There’s no doubt that local SEO is important to the advancement of any offline business. Millions of people use their smartphones daily to look up nearby companies to make a purchase. If you’re not visible to sites like Google, you’re less visible to your target consumer.
Do what you can today to improve your local searchability tomorrow.