You’ve probably heard a lot about local SEO being one of the most important facets when it comes to digital marketing. That’s probably because of how organically you can leverage your business with simple local search engine optimization.
However, we think it’s only fair that before we nod our heads and agree with popular opinion, we need to have a concise idea of what exactly local SEO is, its relevance in today’s world, and how it impacts businesses.
Let this article be your local SEO guide that breaks down all that information for you.
By providing you with a deeper understanding of the world of local SEO, you can have a clear idea of why local SEO holds such a dominant position in online marketing and how to develop a powerful local SEO strategy.
With an effective local SEO strategy, you will be able to drive more awareness to your business, which results into more visitors to your location and in turn, this will help you grow your business.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is merely a variation of your run-of-the-mill SEO, and is aimed at making sure your business gets found on search engines like Google and Bing, by people searching for it in their locality.
The main thing is it serves to promote your business’ visibility on location-based searches by improving your local search rankings.
These include searches with certain geo qualifiers, such as city, state, zip code, service area etc., and ‘near me’ searches, where Google picks up the geo-location of the person and provides search results from that area.
What is the Difference Between SEO and Local SEO?
You may or may not have already heard of SEO (search engine optimization) before. If not, SEO is the action of optimizing your website to make it more visible on search engines globally.
The keyword there being GLOBALLY. This is what makes SEO and local SEO different.
Local SEO is more focused on the audience near your business, in your community, as opposed to the audience that isn’t. SEO is a more generalized umbrella that encompasses local SEO.
Recognizing this difference in the two will ultimately help your business develop better methods of reaching your qualified leads.
Now we’re not saying that you should stay away from generalized SEO if you’re a small local business. Truthfully, knowing the basics of SEO in general could be a good start for any business owner looking to learn more about search engine optimization.
But we’re saying, as a local business, don’t stop at general SEO. Dive deeper.
When you use a specialized form of SEO that specifically targets the consumers that are most relevant to your business, that’s when you will drive the highest ROI and notice the best results.
Why is it important?
Aside from allowing you to gain a bigger return on investment, it can help you penetrate your local market better.
Local SEO is extremely important, especially if you have a business with a brick-and-mortar store, or one that provides a service in a certain service area.
It helps drive traffic to your physical location by making your business information visible to searchers in your local area (which oftentimes tend to be more qualified).
According to a study done by Forbes, 95% of smartphone users have used their device to perform mobile searches for local businesses, out of which 61% called the business and 59% visited.
And SearchEngineWatch found that 70% of mobile users click to call a business directly from Google search results using their mobile phones.
Now these numbers will tell you that leads from location-based searches are a major avenue for potential customers, and those numbers will only keep growing.
Since these leads are from people who are specifically searching for products or services that your business offers, it is safe to assume that these are qualified leads that will definitely have a higher conversion rate as well.
This is why focusing on the ranking factors that allow local customers to find your business on results pages is extremely important, especially for a small business.
As a small business still trying to generate more clientele or get more traffic into your physical location, visibility is the name of the game. When your business information pops up on search results you will then be able to see an increase in the organic results your digital marketing is able to produce.
And this means more business and more revenue!
Getting Your Business On Google’s Local 3-Pack
Additionally, local SEO can help your business appear in Google’s local 3-pack. The Google local 3-pack is one of the most coveted spots when it comes to search engine results.
What is this local 3-pack, you ask? Well, here it is.
Initially, Google’s SERP responded to local searches by showing the seven most popular businesses that are related to your search in the form of a snippet. This was called the local 7-pack, and it featured the addresses, phone numbers and direction links to each of those businesses.
However, as browsing trends evolved to become dominated by smartphones, Google reduced it’s 7-pack to include just three results, for a better user experience.
Try searching for a business in any industry and you will notice that you only see three top results in the local pack. As you might have guessed, it’s called the local 3-pack now, and here’s why a spot in this is so highly sought after.
According to this Moz study, 44% of people who performed a local search clicked on a local 3-pack listing, while only 8% chose to load “more local results.” This goes to show that most people who search for local listings find what they are looking for, within the local 3-pack options provided.
Hence, getting that spot in the search results could drive a huge amount of traffic and potential revenue your way.
Not to mention, the websites that rank closest to the top of search results always receive more traffic than the organic results that populate further down the page.
People truly want answers to their questions instantly. When they make a search for “plumbers near me” (or whatever your industry is), you’ll want your business to come up first every time.
This is solely because searchers typically click on the results near the top.
With the recent changes in consumer search habits, it’s extremely important to optimize your business listings to fit your audience’s search behaviors. Only then will you really see the traffic you desire.
It’s great when you rank on SERPs but the best thing is ranking at the top.
And local SEO can help take your business there.
The Basics of Local SEO
Now that we’ve taken a look at what local SEO is, and why it’s important, let’s check out what you can do to improve your business’ local SEO.
The first thing to understand here is that this is SEO for location-based searches, which means a physical address or location is a prerequisite for a business to show up on local search results.
Therefore, your business has to populate on Google maps or other search engines when searched for. If there is no geographical location, then local SEO won’t work.
In addition, if your business’ address is not updated in Google My Business and other online directories, it will not show up when a customer runs a “near me” or “in *locality name*” search.
The next thing you need to ensure is that your business’ NAP (Name, Address, and Phone number) is consistent across all the online directories you’ve enlisted in. If there are any discrepancies here, Google will most likely avoid listing your business in the local 3-pack. Ideally, it’s best to always stay on top of your listings.
You can do it on your own or choose to go with a tool like Synup that manages all your online listings for you, so you can avoid the hassle of manually updating every directory.
Another way to improve your business’ local SEO is through local citations.
A citation is when a third party website lists your business as a point of reference. This could contain your business’ name, location, or contact info. It does not require a backlink to your business’ website.
An example of a citation would be a food blog naming your restaurant as a good place to dine in your locality. This lets Google know that your business is trustworthy, and it will increase your chances of getting in the local 3-pack.
Citations are a great way to build awareness around your business by expanding your content’s reach to new audiences.
You can find a list of some of the most authoritative sites to have citations on here.
How Can You Improve Your Local SEO: Local SEO Tips To Remember
We’ve covered the basics of local SEO and why it’s important for any small local business to invest in. We’ve talked about the difference between SEO and local SEO and why knowing the difference matters for your overall business marketing strategy. And we’ve also looked at the significance of ranking in the local 3-pack on search engines.
So you may be wondering “how exactly do I perform local SEO for my business?” And that’s a great question!
However, there are quite a few measures that go into place when creating a local SEO strategy. Much more than we can begin to break down in one article.
But we can give you a few tips to get you started in the right direction.
Here are some of the factors to consider and best local SEO tips to remember.
If you own a small business, optimizing your business’ local SEO can be extremely rewarding. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of local SEO:
Similar to regular SEO, link building is key to increasing awareness for your brand and getting more traffic to your site.
Link building is when other web pages place links to your content. You can do internal link building and external linking building.
Internal link building is just as it sounds. You place links in your content that link back to other content you’ve produced. For example, if you have a blog and you placed links in your blog that led to other blogs you’ve written that would be internal linking.
External linking is the same but the links would come from other sites back to yours. For example, if another website linked back to your website.
In the case of local SEO, external link building will be more beneficial to your business because it will allow more eyes to see your website. Audiences you may not have been able to attract on your own will be able to find your business by this simple tactic.
Meta Description and Title Tags
Another key local SEO tip is to optimize your meta descriptions and title tags.
Every website has meta descriptions and title tags. These pieces of data help make your website more recognizable to search engines when they crawl your site.
A meta description is a small snippet of information that describes the content on your website. It helps search engines and searchers know what your content will be about before navigating to your site.
A title tag is basically the title of your web page.
Both the meta description and title tag should include keywords. Including keywords helps increase the visibility of your content by signaling search engine crawlers that your content is relevant.
There is on-page SEO and off-page SEO. On-page SEO is a technical side of SEO that you can perform internally. Off-page SEO refers to the actions done externally, such as link building. Both types make it easier for search engines to rank your pages.
Generating awareness on Google and other search engines requires you to include specific data so they know what is on your site.
When search engines can easily read and rank your site, it signals to them that your website is more credible, which will give you higher rankings.
Examples of on-page SEO:
Mobile accessibility- Having a site that works efficiently on mobile devices is a key factor to include in your SEO strategy. Majority of internet users complete searches from their phones, so having a mobile optimized site is crucial for your local business.
Not to mention, Google typically ranks mobile-friendly websites higher since it matches the search habits of consumers today.
Embed a map- As a local business doing this probably makes the most sense to you. But you’d be surprised how much a map can actually help get you recognized on Google.
Embedding a map on your site, for example, on your footer or contact page, will help your potential customers find you and help Google categorize your business with relevant searches in that area.
Set Up a blog- There’s a reason why we have our own blog site. And we wouldn’t advise you to do anything we wouldn’t do ourselves.
Blogs are great for many reasons. They are one of the top on-page techniques that can boost your visibility. They help promote original content about your business and industry. Blogs help provide another platform to give solutions to your audience when they search for answers to their questions.
In addition, original content helps your business to showcase unique perspectives on industry topics. When you do this, it helps paint you as an industry leader. And as a small local business, that’s very important.
Being an industry leader or seen as an expert on industry topics makes your business more credible. In turn, this helps increase your rankings online.
Like any other part of your business, you have to do your research. In terms of local SEO, we’re talking keyword research.
Oftentimes when we talk about SEO, keywords are also involved in the conversation. That’s because using the same quality keywords that your audience is using is how you can reach them better.
We mentioned blogs before because they are an easy way to include responsive keywords in your content to target your audience. It’s as simple as including optimized keywords in your titles.
However, you have to KNOW what keywords are most relevant to your audience before you can start crafting content around them.
That’s where keyword research comes in. Using keyword research tools will help your business identify what words and phrases your audience is using in their searches, as well as what your competitors are using too.
For example, if you run a soccer equipment store, you’ll want to use keywords relating to soccer in a specified area, such as “soccer store Atlanta” if you’re located in Atlanta, or “soccer store near me.”
You can even optimize your brand name and location area as keywords to target local traffic. But the most important part about using keywords is doing research to know which ones make the most sense for your business.
You could have a restaurant that specializes in only vegan options. In that case you wouldn’t want to waste your time using the wrong keywords.
Once you do find the right words to use, you’ll see how much more efficient your content becomes at generating awareness.
Google My Business Listing
We know that Google is one of the top search engines used today. Therefore, setting up a GMB account or verifying your business information for Google will allow your business to get more visibility.
Optimizing your GMB listing will help Google recognize that your company is legitimate and allow local consumers in your area to find you.
Photos, maps, business hours, and reviews are all available to be added to your listings to optimize them to be more effective.
If you haven’t created your business’ GMB yet, note that it’s very simple to set up an account. Setting up an account and optimizing it will surely take your local business far.
Online Business Directories
Ever heard of Yelp, Four Square, or Yellow Pages? You may or may not remember the big yellow phone book with all the numbers and addresses in it, but directories like that really helped local businesses in the past.
Today, you may not see those books anymore but there are now tons of online directories that you can utilize to get your business information out there.
These are called online directories and they will help boost your local link building.
You’d be surprised how many people use these platforms to find information on businesses in their area. That’s why getting your business’s information on these sites is crucial.
The more channels you use to generate awareness, the more likely your audience will see your business.
There are also tools like Yext that help get your business listed on multiple platforms at once. So you can save time instead of manually entering all your business information on each site.
In the end, performing local link building like this is guaranteed to help your business.
Getting reviews may sound a little intimidating at first. However, search engines favor business pages that have reviews.
Naturally, Google will include the number of reviews you have when ranking local businesses.
It doesn’t matter whether they are positive or negative. And if you happen to receive one, remember to thank the customer for giving a positive review.
On the other hand, you can also reply to negative reviews faster but still professionally.
Not only do reviews look good to search engines, but they also help your audience as well. For instance, have you ever come across an item online and were interested in it but there wasn’t much information on it. You probably didn’t purchase the item because you were skeptical. It works the same way for any business.
Reviews from real customers help provide more insight on what your business has to offer. And if your business has great offerings, you’ll want to show that off.
There are different ways you can build up your reviews like offering discounts for customers if they leave a review. You can even just ask your past customers to leave feedback.
Regardless how you do it, having reviews on Google will help build the trust potential customers have with your business. 72% of people confide in online reviews in the same way they do the opinions of their friends and family.
That’s why reviews are so beneficial.
Landing Pages and Website Design
Have you given thought to the design of your website?
You can do a lot of different things outside of your website to help make it more visible online, but if your site design and landing pages are bad, then you can kiss those leads goodbye.
Just think about it. You did all that work just to get those leads to visit your website or landing pages and just because it was too confusing to navigate and didn’t have the right information, those leads are no longer interested.
Yes, the design of your pages are also an important part of your SEO. Not just for your website visitors, but for search engines as well.
It goes back to those search engine crawlers we mentioned before. If you have a site that has incorrect information or is structured poorly, those crawlers can’t read your site either.
When they can’t read it, they can’t rank it properly. And it’s all about making it easier for these crawlers to read so they can give your content the best rankings.
Social media is great for increasing your engagement organically.
Optimizing your business profile on LinkedIn (which counts as social media) is a great way for your local business to be seen.
Like we mentioned earlier, the more platforms you are using, the higher chance your audience and search engines can recognize your content.
This is especially so if you are using the right keywords as well. Using targeted keywords isn’t just for your website, but you can do it on social media too!
When it comes to engagement on different platforms, it will help build you brand image, credibility, and online presence. And this will indirectly impact your search rankings.
Always Remember These Factors As Well
When it comes to marketing online you have to be consistent. If you’re producing blog content or social media content, your audience will pick up on inconsistencies. You want to be consistent in how much you post. This will help build you credibility and keep your audience engaged.
But being consistent also means the information you include on different platforms needs to be aligned with one another.
Make sure your posting information is correct and makes sense because your audience will notice.
Even if your information is correct across your online accounts, make sure it also coincides with your physical location too.
For instance, if the business hours on your website say you close at 9pm but the hours at your physical location say you close at 10pm, you’ll be losing business.
Discrepancies like this will look unfavorable to Google and to your customers.
Your Rankings Will Change.
This comes as no surprise as new information is always being added to the internet constantly.
But when it comes to determining how successful your local SEO is, you have to look at the overall picture.
If you look at your ranking from month to month and see that they are trending downward, then you may want to take another look at your SEO efforts.
However, it may not always be that your SEO isn’t effective. It can also be changed to Google’s algorithm.
Search engines also update and make changes to the requirements they use to rank websites. Therefore, you will want to stay current with algorithm changes so your pages are always properly optimized.
SEO doesn’t work overnight. In fact, SEO can take some time to see drastic results.
Thus, be patient with your efforts. Don’t get discouraged if your campaigns aren’t booming with new conversions immediately. That’s normal.
Essentially, the more work you put in and the more consistent you remain will help you get results over time.
As long as you follow the tips we shared, your local SEO will be exactly where it needs to be.
We can’t stress this enough because every business is different.
That means what works for one business, more than likely won’t work for your business.
When it comes to figuring out how to optimize your content you can look for inspiration from others, but doing it exactly the same won’t help you in the long run.
Being unique and producing content specific to your brand shows your audience that your business is one of a kind. Show that what you offer can’t be found anywhere else.
This will encourage your audience to trust you because they aren’t getting the same value anywhere else.
Do not be afraid to make adjustments to content, website, or pages. As a matter of fact, we highly encourage you to make changes frequently or whenever you see fit.
If you used to only use 5 keywords in your content but you identify more keywords or keywords that are a better fit, then make that change.
After all, good things don’t come from comfort zones. When you continue to make adjustments to your marketing efforts, you’ll be putting your business in a better position.
It’s okay to start small and make minor changes as your business grows. This is how many big businesses started too.
However, always remember that even small adjustments can have huge effects. That means always recheck your information before publishing it and do your research before implementing anything new.
How Does Local SEO Impact Your Business?
If you own a small business, optimizing your business’ local SEO can be extremely rewarding. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of local SEO:
- Local SEO helps potential customers discover your business.
Awareness–this is just one of the many benefits to local SEO.
A lot of local searches originate from non-locals who are searching for a business like yours.
For instance, if you are in a popular area of town that gets a lot of out of town traffic, including information relevant to that area with you business information can help.
With local SEO done right, your business can capture that audience.
- Local SEO provides potential customers the information that they want, when they want it.
For example, if your restaurant has free WiFi or is pet-friendly, displaying that information as part of your local SEO will attract customers who are looking for just that.
And even if your business does not have a website, local SEO helps your business stand out when potential customers are searching for key information like this.
This ultimately helps drive more traffic through online leads.
- Local search optimization provides potential customers the power to take action.
As mentioned earlier, 61% of people who performed a local search ended up calling the business. And this in turn provides businesses with qualified leads that they convert.
Having optimized listings that make searching more convenient for your audience is always a bonus.
Anytime you make it easier for your leads to take action by providing map directions, or including a menu online, you are encouraging them to become a customer.
- Local SEO helps drive people’s decisions in favor of your business.
The more data they have about your business, the more trustworthy you are in their eyes. This lays a strong foundation upon which you can build a mutually beneficial customer relationship.
Building relationships with your leads helps move them through the sales cycle. It helps build a long-lasting relationship and helps influence them to recommend your business to others in the future.
When it comes down to it, local SEO can be your best friend if you want to make your local business more competitive online.
And now that you know how local SEO can help your business, you can better manage its online presence, and build up your client base.
As a small business owner, we know your priority is to set your business up for success so you can scale it into a sustainable, well-known brand in the future. With local SEO efforts you can do just that.
Your goal is to make your business as strong as it can be and we’re here to help you reach it.
Adding an SEO company to your marketing team will not only boost your local SEO but also increase your organic search engine rankings for your site and over your competitors.
Using the tips in this article will give you a great head start, but working with SEO experts will give you an extra advantage at developing the best SEO plan.
And even if you are looking at this article and still not sure how to start, we can help with that too!
Talk to an expert now at (404) 596-7925 or schedule a free consultation that fits your calendar to see how our experts can help your business grow through search engine optimization.