Businesses use the internet for a variety of things. Whether it’s to improve their exposure on the web so they get more customers, or if it’s to use the internet in order to sell products from their physical location, there are plenty of reasons to utilize the internet. However, there’s one digital marketing strategy web-based businesses use that hasn’t quite caught on for physical stores: SEO. In the following article we will explain local search engine optimization, why it matters, and 20 actionable local seo tips to help your business generate quality leads.
As you may know, SEO stands for search engine optimization, It’s a collection of strategies that help to rank your website higher on search engines such as Google. In a sense, it’s trying to make Google’s search algorithms happy so that your business or website appear higher on a search. For instance, if someone searches for “how to drive a car” then the results will show plenty of different articles about how to drive a car. Similarly, if someone searches for the “cheapest place to buy a phone” then it will give results based on the search terms.
Websites are ranked based on their relevance to the given keywords. For example, you’re not going to get a website about dogs and cats if you search for sharks, and you’re more likely to find a guide on how to write a book if you search “how to write a book” instead of “how to write a blog”. The search terms define what results show up, and many business owners use SEO tactics in order to appear higher In the search terms. This generates more clicks and opens your business up to more exposure.
What is Local SEO?
However, there’s also the concept of local SEO. In short, it’s SEO that relies on search engine powers that enable them to track locations of the people using their services. For instance, if you type “local restaurant near me” into a Google search, then Google’s systems will track your location (as long as you have location data enabled) and it will display a list of local restaurants that are close to you.
In addition, the content on your website will help to bump your site up based on search terms. If someone searches for “best mechanic in London” and you happen to have the word “London” on your website quite often, then you’ll have a slightly higher search rank. In short, local SEO is an attempt to direct marketing to a very specific audience based on their geographical location.
It’s important to get your company listed on Google Maps because if it’s not, it won’t show up on searches. You will need to register your store and manually edit the information to show your store, what you sell and also your contact information.
What is Local SEO Good For?
Let’s discuss what makes local SEO such a good marketing strategy.
- Attracts mobile users – people love to take their phones out when they’re exploring the city, and phones are automatically capable of reading your location to help you find local stores and establishments that are relevant to your interests. With the power of machine learning, it also means that the systems will save your location so it essentially knows where you live. Using this information, it can make better recommendations that will be relevant to your interests. With so many people using phones for searching, it makes sense to use local SEO strategies in order to attract mobile users that are out and about for a long time.
- Mobile internet growth – one of the biggest reasons to cater towards mobile users is the fact that mobile users are constantly growing. It doesn’t matter if they’re just using simple smartphones, tablets or even laptops—it pays to appeal to mobile audiences by making your website look better on smaller screens. Many people take their devices out into the open to search for things, and the number of smartphone, tablet and laptop users is constantly growing every year thanks to more powerful devices, longer batteries, and cheaper models.
- High conversion levels – unlike other forms of advertising or SEO, local SEO promises to have a high conversion rate. This is because it’s a far more specific search term that likely won’t spit out generic results. When someone searches for something incredibly specific like “vegan coffee shop in downtown LA” then it’s almost like they are pinpointing a specific type of store. They’re adding all of the criteria into a single search term and, if successful, it pretty much means they’ve found the perfect store that they’ve been looking for.
- Customers trust online business reviews – if you’ve ever tried to look for a local restaurant and decided which one to go to based on a star rating, then you’ll know what this point means. People love to visit places with higher star ratings because they think it’s naturally better. Local SEO services will give a huge boost of confidence to your consumers because they’ll see that you’re popular, they’ll see that you have a fantastic website and they’ll put their faith in your reviewers.
Optimizing Local Searching
Optimizing your local SEO relies on a number of different things. For starters, you’ll want to claim your business on Google’s services. This will allow you to edit information, add social media pages and contact information. This is a good first step because it means that your business is visible to customers and they’ll have a far easier time finding you.
Next, ensure that your keywords are present in the information pages of your business. For instance, if you’re a restaurant you should include the word “restaurant” in your search information so that it can be picked up by Google’s searches. Try and associate your business with specific categories as well. For example, a “bookstore” is fairly general, but if you set your category to “comic book store” then it narrows down the search possibilities, thus increasing your exposure and relevancy.
As you can see, local search engine optimization is something that could greatly benefit your business if used correctly and you should be fully aware of how it works, why it works and how you can implement it into your marketing strategy.
Local search engine optimization is a key component of any business’s marketing strategy. Business owners tend to neglect it in favor of regular SEO. However, if you own a physical location, then it’s a good idea to mix both, but still put an emphasis on local SEO. There are countless mobile users out there and they all use built-in services on their phones, tablets and laptops to find businesses that are local to them. If you aren’t targeting this growing user base, then you’re doing something wrong in your company.
To help you out, we’ve compiled a massive list of local SEO tips that you should follow if you want to boost visibility in your local area and dominate the competition.
20 Local SEO Tips To Generate Local Business Leads
Learn what a NAP is
NAP stands for name, address and phone number. It’s one of the most important abbreviations you’ll come across in business because it’s critical for your business to appear on organic search results. Search engines take this data into consideration so that it can rank your company in the search results.
Ensure your NAP is the same on all sites
If your NAP is different across multiple sites then it’s going to confuse people. Make sure it’s accurate and written in the style that you prefer (formatting or shortening-wise) so that it can be cross-referenced on a number of different websites without causing any confusion for your customers. It might sound ridiculous to ask you to ensure that your address is correct across all sites, but you’d be surprised at how many businesses lose customers because their information wasn’t consistent.
Register your company on Google
Make sure you have a Google My Business listing and fill in every single piece of information they ask for. If you aren’t on Google My Business, then there’s a low chance that you’ll ever show up in searches or even if someone is looking on their phone for a store that matches your description. It seems like a small thing, but you should never neglect to do it. It doesn’t take long to register your company in Google’s listings and it will greatly improve your business for the little time you’ll spend.
Get yourself in online directories
In addition to Google My Business, make sure you also list your website on 3rd party online directories such as Yell and Yelp. Make sure your NAP is correct across all websites and ensure that the information you use to describe your business hasn’t been altered and remains consistent throughout all directories.
Encourage online reviews
Genuine online reviews and ratings are perfect to draw attention to your business. However, you need to spread them out across multiple directories so that each one has a high rating and plenty of positive comments. You can encourage good reviews, but you cannot give incentives for them or else you may be blacklisted and removed from online directories. Keep it fair so that you don’t attract too much attention. Never give out discounts or special treatment for reviews, just ask nicely and encourage a positive review if you gave your customers a good service.
Use Schema markup
Schema Markup is code that allows your business to be more visible on a search engine. It requires a bit of coding knowledge unless you have a web host that lets you edit the tags on your own. Schema essentially tells search engines what the data you give them means instead of what it just says. For instance, if the word “Restaurant” appears on your website then search engines will just see it as a word to be indexed. However, if it’s enclosed in tags that describe the type of business you are, then it will tell the search engine you are a restaurant and display relevant information that could attract customers.
Get on the local media
Local media usually consists of radio, television, and publications. However, local media is also not afraid to use the internet. There are many online publications that post their articles on both the internet and on physical mediums. This means if you make it onto local media, there’s a good chance that it will get noticed by search engines as well, thus improving your exposure.
Add plenty of photographs
Everyone loves photographs—even search engines! Make sure you add as many pictures as you can to let people know what your business is like. Take pictures of the exterior to make it easier to spot, take photographs of the interior so people can decide if it’s a nice place to visit or not, and ensure you have lots of photographs of your products or menus (it depends on what you sell).
Make your website attractive to mobile users
Mobile users are growing every month and it’s easy to see why. Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets offer us the freedom to travel while still staying connected to our friends and family members. However, it also allows us to search for attractions, places to eat and stores in our local area. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and it will get boosted up the ranks whenever someone searches for a business like yours in the local area.
Focus on customer service
Customer service is important for your business, but you might not understand the effect it as on the internet. A disgruntled employee shouting at customers could be recorded and it may even be attached to your local area, thus reducing your chances of attracting new customers. If you have fantastic customer service, then not only do you avoid this situation but you also get a positive outcome from it. People love to hear that a business treats its customers well, so if it’s the choice between a friendly and easy-going store and a high-end one with tight security and rude staff, then people will almost always choose the option that makes them more comfortable.
Maintain a blog for your business website
A blog is a perfect candidate for SEO because it consists of many pages, can contain lots of outgoing and inbound links and it can also be used to talk about your business. Many companies understand the importance of having a blog attached to their website because it can lead to more customers. Simply talk about your business, mention your location to trigger keyword searches and fill it with fantastic content so that people can read it and relate to your business.
Optimize website loading times
No one likes a website that doesn’t load. Your website experience is going to contribute greatly to your customer experience and this makes you rank higher in search results. SEO is a large and complicated thing that, to this day, is constantly evolving. Recently, research has suggested that the scope of SEO is no longer in the content of the website, but also the user experience. In short, a positive user experience will help with local SEO, so consider optimizing your website to load faster.
Create separate web pages for each location you have
If you have several locations around the world or nationally, then make sure there are different landing pages for each one. This is simply because you can’t hope to fit the locations of every store you have onto a single web page. If people search “vegan coffee shop in” and enter a location that you operate in, then it should lead to a web page that is focused on that particular store. This will save you from having to load keywords onto every page of your website, and it improves your local SEO
Add testimonials to your website
Testimonials are fantastic for both improving user experience and converting users. This ultimately results in better SEO, especially considering you can use those testimonials as a way of drawing customers in. Much of the information can be placed on search results which will make it stand out.
Utilize regional keywords
If you want to reach people in a certain town that you operate in, then you have to use regional keywords. You need to mention that town, village or location in your landing pages (hence why tip #13 suggested you create several web pages for each location) in order to stand out. People are going to search for businesses near them—it’s just a natural thing to do. So if you want to stand out and actually be discoverable, make sure you use regional keywords.
Get involved in the local community
Your first few customers are likely going to be those who are local to you. Whether it’s a neighboring business that likes your products or a non-competing business, they are all potential allies that could help you grow your exposure. If you keep spreading your influence, then local news of your store will grow and there’s a good chance that you will be mentioned on social media or blogs. This will eventually give you the power to spread your influence and become a huge success in your local area.
Have multiple ways for people to contact you
A business without a contact number is a business that doesn’t want to do business. It was mentioned before that having an accurate NAP is important if you want to utilize local SEO, but having your location and contact details made available in public is also just as important. You also need to let people contact you in various ways. Set up and manage multiple social media accounts to ensure that you have plenty of channels for people to contact you on. Whether it’s Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, a comment section on your website or even YouTube videos, make sure you give your audience plenty of ways to get in touch.
Write original and unique content for your website
Original content is one of the most solid ways of improving your search engine optimization. Original content goes hand-in-hand with blogging. The more original content you write that involves your local area, the higher the chance of you being discovered by people in the area. Writing original content also enables you to use backlinks from other businesses. For instance, if you operate a restaurant and you want to team up with a nearby hotel, then you can always mention the hotel in your original content on your website. This will prompt the hotel to mention you in their own content and this will create a mutual benefit that will improve the exposure of both your companies without directly competing.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to other content creators
Make sure you’re not afraid to reach out to other bloggers, reviewers or content creators. For example, if you run a comic book store, then don’t be afraid to speak with local comic book enthusiasts in your area that run blogs and ask for them to mention you. You could also invite them down to show them your store if they haven’t been to it before, and this may prompt them to write about you, mention you or even make a YouTube video about you. This will greatly boost your local exposure, but it also has the fantastic benefit of spreading your name over the internet.
Respond to criticism and comments
Lastly, make sure you’re responding to criticism and comments on your business. This is a great way to show that you care about people in your local area and you want to try your best to make them happy. If a disgruntled customer leaves a negative review, then reply in a calm tone to ease the worries of other potential customers. You may also want to respond to comments for the sake of defending yourself in the event that someone leaves a malicious review. Of course, it’s better for the directories themselves to handle this in a traditional dispute, but you should never leave new reviews or comments unnoticed. Thank them for their kind words and make them feel like their opinion mattered.