Local search engine optimization (SEO) can be incredibly powerful for small businesses as the majority of consumers use search to find information on businesses closest to them. While this is generally a great thing, it can be tough if your business isn’t optimized for local search. If local SEO isn’t harnessed to its fullest potential, you could be missing out on some major traffic and new business coming your way.
To help get you on the right track for local SEO, we will outline helpful information you should know, as well as some practical tips for getting started. By the end, we hope you’ll have a firm understanding on how your business can reach potential consumers who use local search to choose where they shop.
Local SEO helps local businesses promote their products and services to local customers at the exact time they’re looking for them online.
With traditional SEO, you’re often dealing with search queries that are much more generic in nature. This can include questions like, “How do I clean out gutters?” With local SEO, search queries have much more intent behind it, as questions usually turn more to things like, “Who cleans gutters near me?” or “Gutter cleaners in [location].”
For these location-specific questions, which typically include a location or “near me,” search engines understand that what the searcher wants is business suggestions or lists based on location. That’s why you need to make sure your business can be found in these types of searches.
People typically perform local searches to find a product or service nearest to them. Some searchers know what they’re looking for by typing in a specific business, but many who search don’t have a specific business in mind. The following statistics help provide some context:
A local search isn’t something that just tourists use anymore. In the age of the immediate, we need tools that help us find what we need nearby as quickly as possible. For businesses that choose to harness local SEO, they are likely the ones to surge ahead when it comes to local, online attention.
By learning how to best optimize for local SEO, you can better position your business and promote what you have to offer to local customers when they’re looking for your type of business. There’s no better time to connect with a potential customer than right now.
Thanks to recent digital developments, local optimization for small businesses can be fairly simple and relatively inexpensive. Here are some of the top ways you can ensure your small business is situated for local online growth:
A necessity for local search, Google My Business feeds information to a variety of places, including the Google Search local pack, Google Maps search results, and the knowledge panel. Your profile can include information you submit, like services you offer, contact details, business description, category, and opening times.
It is important to note here that features — such as GMB attributes, GMB Q&As, and Google Reviews — are almost entirely generated by consumers. If Google can verify your business as being truly authentic, the search engine could potentially reward your business with a sidebar space in Google local search.
To ensure you’re optimized for Google My Business, you’ll want to:
A citation is any place your business name, address, phone number, or website URL appears together online — typically in an online directory or business listings website. These are particularly important to have in place for local SEO. If you don’t appear in the places people are looking for your business, you’re likely to get overtaken by competitors who are listed there.
This structure information is usually listed in sections like Yelp. Additionally, there are unstructured citations in places like social media, wherein your address and contact information is visible and connected to your web page.
The key here is consistency.
The more consistent you are in placing your address and contact information in visible directories and on your website (preferable in HTML text so it becomes crawlable), the higher your chances are of Google being able to validate and tag your business when people go to search.
Make inputting and updating citations a foundational aspect of your local SEO strategy. Research shows that if they’re not regularly updated and cleaned up, there can be serious consequences.
Writing about general topics is never a bad thing, as it will often cater to wider audiences. However, sometimes your need to tailor your focus and write about local news to attract a local audience.
This can be accomplished by promoting local industry gatherings, news, awards, or updates impacting the local business community near you. This involves thinking a bit outside the box and seeking ways to actively meet the needs of people you serve. For instance, if you’re a restaurant located near a festival or local celebration, you could choose to write about event tips and tricks for the day, such as: best places to park, where to find public restrooms, or things to remember to bring.
Once you begin generating a balance of local content, you’ll want to be sure you optimize by inserting keywords into your title, body, description and meta description tags, so Google can index and push localized content to the forefront of people’s searches.
There are a couple great ways to update your site so local audiences can find you with ease. One way is to ensure your website is mobile friendly with responsive site design. Research shows that 9/10 smartphone users conduct local searches on their devices (which would make sense, especially if they’re around town). The harder it is for searches to read your website or navigate, the more unlikely they are to stay.
Your Contact and About pages can also boost your local presence, provided they include sufficient amounts of content (300+ words) with location-specific keywords. Your About page could provide relevant history or fun facts about where you do business, and your Contact page could include information about your surrounding community. You can also earn bonus search points by embedding a Google map on your Contact page, with your tagged location — making it easier for people to locate and contact you.
Finally, though a bit more complicated, you can also add SCHEMA.org Markup code in your HTML to improve the way search engines read and present your page to those searching.
Looking to receive some help when it comes to optimizing your small business for local SEO? We’ve helped many businesses improve their local online footprint. Contact us today to learn more!