Thinking local is what small businesses often do best. It’s just not always something some smaller businesses do online as well. Oftentimes, the reason for a lack of SEO effort is a belief that it’s going to be hard to compete with larger competitors with massive marketing budgets. Yet connecting with existing and new customers within specific geographic areas doesn’t have to break the bank. When correctly implemented, local SEO can be a powerful marketing and engagement “”tool”” for just about any small business looking to stay connected digitally.
1. Claim Your Business in Directories
Do a search to find out where your business is listed and follow the steps each directory has to claim it. Doing so will allow you to verify that the stated NAP (name, address, phone number) info is correct in citations (listings of your business info).
2. Confirm That NAP Info Is Exactly the Same
Inconsistent directory info came hurt your online visibility. Any discrepancies in your business info can affect your rankings and make it difficult for local searchers to find you. Even a listing that drops the “”Inc.”” from your business name will be viewed as a separate business.
3. Seek Out Niche Directories
Go beyond the basic directories and seek ones specific to your preferred metro area and industry. These directories may not be as popular as broader ones, but such listings may be where your target audience is looking.
4. Make Your Website ‘Mobile Friendly’
Nearly 80 percent of mobile searches have local intent. If you haven’t adjusted your website for viewing on mobile devices, you may be missing out on conversions because of things like slow page load times and difficult navigation.
5. Add Images to Your My Business Listing
Start with adding relevant keywords to your Google My Business profile. Adding images to your listing will also boost engagement, especially on mobile devices. People have more of a tendency to thumb through photos or images rather than scan through text that shows up with search results.
6. Research Your Competitors’ Keywords
Make the Google Keyword Tool your friend. But go beyond researching your own keywords. Take a look at what words and terms your competitors are using to target the same consumers. Also look for keywords they may not be using that may be just as effective.
7. Create a Virtual Tour of Your Business
If it makes sense for your business, create a virtual tour with a short video to provide an added incentive for local customers to visit your site or visit in person. Google has a 360 See Inside feature you can attach to your Google+, Local, and Places profiles.
8. Optimize Your Social Media Profiles
A lot of small businesses create social pages but ignore the profile part. Put your pages to work for you with optimized social profiles that include naturally used keywords and links back to your site.
9. Optimize Your Website’s Content for Local SEO
Give local visitors an incentive to stay on your website with content that includes geographic references to the areas you wish to target, including neighborhoods and suburbs. Referencing local landmarks or terms like nicknames for well-known places can also attract the right kind of attention to your content.
10. Don’t Forget Your Meta Tags
The short blurbs about the content of each page of your website are known as meta tags, the most important of which is the title tag. These snippets will appear in your page’s code and help with SEO by telling crawlers what each webpage is about so it can be ranked properly for local searchers.
11. Encourage Local Reviews
Local business search results include more than just a link back to your website. Any reviews posted about your business will also show up. And it’s these reviews that are trusted by nearly 90 percent of consumers, so make an effort to encourage your customers to leave comments online.
12. Write for Real People
While keywords will always be a basic part of SEO, don’t get so wrapped up in it that you forget your audience. Boost your local engagement by creating relevant blog and social media posts that are written with the intended reader in mind.
13. Blog About Local News Relevant to Your Business
Further connect with your local audience with a blog devoted to community news. Make any news you write about relevant to your business and include keywords naturally, but avoid any direct sales pitches.
14. Create Separate Landing Pages When Possible
Get more out of your website’s pages by creating optimized pages for things like different locations for your business and services. Each landing page should have its own unique meta description.
15. Personalize Your URL
One of the most overlooked source of local SEO is the URL or web address. Your URL can be personalized to refer to your business by location and description to let searchers know immediately what you offer or who you are (“”Miami_lawfirm””).
16. Provide More Direct Data
Google rewards businesses that provide as much relevant information as possible. With local SEO, this means offering as much direct data, or extra info, as possible. For instance, direct data for a local restaurant may include regular happy hour specials and weather or not take-out is offered.
17. Deliver a Multi-channel Customer Experience
It’s no unusual for today’s local searchers to start looking for a business with a search before heading to their social media page to see what conversations are going on before heading back to the website to make a purchase. Prepare your local content for such behaviors by delivering a consistent message across multiple channels.
18. Use Geo-Tracking Capabilities to Offer Incentives
Take advantage of geo-tracking technology to determine when local customers are physically near your business. Such info can be used to send out special offers or coupon codes via social media or email.
19. Choose ‘Voice Search Friendly’ Keywords
More and more local searchers are using handy voice search features so they can multitask while on their device. Make your site friendly to voice searches by choosing keywords people are likely to say (conversational keywords rather than ones that come across as awkward).
20. Join Your Local Chamber of Commerce
Chamber of commerce membership has many potential perks for small businesses, including some surprising SEO benefits. Most chambers will provide a link back to your business that can help enhance your credibility in the eyes of local searchers.
21. Track Your Stats
Local SEO is meaningless for your small business unless you tap into your stats. Start with Google Analytics. Follow the prompts to set up reports specific to what information you need to know. All social and blog platforms also provide useful stats.
Delivering the right message to the intended audience can have a major impact on revenue for a small business. Effective local SEO strategies can also improve conversion rates, build brand awareness, and even help outsmart the competition. With the ability to carefully measure stats on everything from precisely where online traffic is coming from to what actions visitors are taking while on a website, real-time decisions can be made to determine what’s working and what needs some adjusting.