Your prospective customers are looking for local businesses like yours online. When they search for a business to meet their needs or desires, they enter terms into search engines and get a list of relevant results. Whether or not your business is among those results depends on your local SEO.
It’s true that Google knows where a user is when they search. So it will skew search results depending on where they’re located for their convenience. For example, if I’m in Atlanta, Georgia, and I search for a Bikram yoga studio, the results will show studios in Atlanta more prominently than studios in New York City.
But that doesn’t mean you can afford to ignore local factors when it comes to SEO. Local SEO is sometimes considered trickier than general SEO simply because additional factors are taken into consideration. The following tips will improve your local SEO and make a positive difference in driving traffic to your website.
Claim Local Business Listings
One of the most important action steps to take for your local SEO is to claim your business profiles and complete them in full. At the very least, your local business should claim and complete a profile for Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, and Yelp. You should also do some research and identify other online directories that make sense for your business and submit a listing. And while you’re at it, secure a presence for your business on social media and make sure your profiles are optimized for local SEO.
It’s critical that in each directory and listing, your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) citations match precisely. Clean and accurate NAP citation consistency factors heavily into your local search ranking.
Moz Local is a tool that enables you to check and manage your listings on Google, Bing, and other local search engines.
Get Customer Reviews
Customer reviews also affect into your local SEO because reviews show up prominently in search results. For local businesses, the best organic rankings are generally taken by the businesses with good reviews. For many categories, reviews dominate the search results to the extent that very few individual business pages show up on the first page. Concentrate primarily on getting Google My Business reviews from your customers and also encourage reviews on the directories that show up highest in organic rankings for your targeted keyword terms.
One challenge business owners face in getting reviews is that Google constantly changes their “review us” URL. Use this Google Review Link Generator to create stable call-to-action links for your customers.
Find out what your prospective customers are searching for online and identify what words they are typing into Google search. Don’t just pick keywords that you think are relevent to your business; choose keywords that your prospects would actually use to find a business like yours online locally. Then make sure the content on your website is optimized for the right keywords, including specific locations when possible. If you have more than one location, create and optimize separate pages for each location.
It’s important to use keywords naturally in a few strategic places where they naturally fit and and your content flows. Avoid stuffing keywords or making the text sound clunky and unnatural,.
Write Quality Content
Google favors high-quality readable content that positions your company and website as an authoritative resource. When using a content strategy to boost your local SEO, be sure to incorporate your location into the text where possible. Your focus should be on creating content that engages your customers’ needs, so consider questions that your customers are asking and create content that answers their questions.
A good rule of thumb is to keep in mind that you want other local businesses and credible websites to link back to your content and you want people in your local community to share the content. So make it good. When possible, include images and video that are also optimized with local keywords.
Buzzsumo is a tool that will help you identify top-performing content in your business category, which can serve as inspiration for your own local SEO content.
Be Mobile Friendly
Google has already started ranking websites using a mobile first approach. If your website isn’t mobile friendly in 2017, your SEO will be impacted negatively. Responsive web design and other technical factors are imperative for success.
Think about it this way: when a user is on the go, searching for a local business, they are likely using a mobile device. So Google rewards websites that prioritize a positive user experience and dings websites with a poor user experience.
Use this Google tool to enter your URL and run a mobile-friendly test on your website.
Getting backlinks is important for your overall SEO and also plays a part in your local SEO. For the greatest impact, it’s important to have anchor text optimized for both keywords and your city or location. Your strategy doesn’t need to include getting large numbers of low-quality, links but getting at least one or a few good links with locally optimized anchor text can make a positive difference. Remember, Google favors websites that appear credible and authoritative, so good links back to your site will improve your local SEO.
Effective local SEO requires understanding your customer, putting essential foundational elements in place, developing a strategic plan, and committing to long-term consistent action. Steer clear of anyone promising fast results or guaranteed organic placement on page one of Google.
If you need help getting your local SEO kickstarted, give us a shout.