Today’s world is almost entirely on the internet: it goes without saying. How many times have you wanted to find a place where you can get a coffee or a cup of tea, and work out of? You go to Google, type out your key phrase - maybe it’s “coffee shops open around me”, and you have a list ready to choose from.
That list of curated locations around you, telling you where to go and where you can access the services you need, was made possible by local SEO. All the businesses you see immediately when you search have all optimised their businesses online.
As more and more people are searching for services on the web with increased access to the internet, having a digital presence is essential. Having that presence and not optimizing your local SEO is equivalent to having a brick and mortar business and keeping it closed for the neighbours. With every business now online, it is crucial for you to optimise, so your web traffic doesn’t just stay traffic - and that search engine results get you the eyeballs you need.
But how do you do this?
Set up online business accounts with Google My Business and Bing My Business and on other search engines used by people in your community. For example, if you use the search terms “coffee shop near me”, you should appear listed there.
How do you do that? Complete and verify your profile, provide links to a functioning website, select your service category and provide your NAP details [your name, address and phone] on the page. That will ensure you are well-linked, and having that information duly populated ensures it is well on the way to being optimized. Once users leave reviews and you are cited as a local listing, your page is completely optimized. Think of it as a business that has been set up strongly, and is consistently being vouched for; you are more likely to visit it in that case.
Make sure to include a lot of photographs: doing this will ensure you are registered as a business owner with Google and other search engines and you will be a part of the local search. This is essential, as Google and other search engines usually optimize their local search based on need, location and services offered. It is best to clearly explain the services you offer, and provide a clear call to action in your listing.
1. Building links is crucial
Local SEO, just like less specialised, more general SEO, is also dependent on link building. The more links arriving and leaving your page and the more credible your links are better your search results. Inbound Link Authority is a major factor in determining how relevant and valuable your domain is, and having inbound links from local services and communities is extremely valuable, as it shows that your website, or domain, is an authority in that area or subject.
The more inbound links you have from good, high quality websites, the better your own website will rank, and the more credible the site from where the inbound link originates, the better your listing. Strong locally listed sites vouching for you boosts your business, so make sure they do!
Look at all local services and community services, and try and backlink from them. Having local business and relevant content on your page also helps in growing organic links, which will network your page better and result in a higher ranking overall.
2. On Page content
You can’t have a good title and a great framework, but no substantial information to back it up - that goes without saying! A user who comes to a page with a lot of information they need is more likely to stay there, and to patronise your business. On page content is both the literal content and the HTML on the page, so if you want to maximise traffic, make sure to pay attention to both! Think of on-page SEO as the bit of SEO that is fully in your hands, and comes from within your website, rather than any external factors.
Some basics you necessarily want to be careful about: first, that the title of your page should be relevant to local users and be the same as your Google My Business page, have. content which is locally relevant, for example links to local services or attractions is a good way to be relevant for Local SEO.
3. Have relevant reviews and citations - aka customer proof listings
Think of all the time you have spent shopping online. Would you be more likely to purchase an item that looked great, but had only two, or three reviews - or maybe even none at all? Or would you rather purchase an item with consistent customer reviews? For anyone making any sort of purchase - in this case, giving your business their custom, reviews give you credibility and make it more likely for someone to visit your establishment.
Ask your customers to write reviews on your page, your GMB page, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Zomato, and any other websites where you may be listed, People trust reviews and they are a good indicator for relevance, especially when it comes to local searches. A lot of times, users searching for your business on social media will take their final call on your business based on the reviews left by others - and in turn, leave reviews of their own.
So how do you encourage reviews?
First, just request them. It seems like a no-brainer, but simply requesting reviews encourages many customers to leave them. While not all will respond in the affirmative, even if a handful of customers leave you reviews, that begins what could well be a slew of reviews coming in.
Second, encourage your customers to leave reviews electronically: leave QR codes and bitlinks in accessible places at your establishment, for example, and walk up to your customers and ask!
Readily accessible codes and links will be a significant help.
Finally, give your customers opportunities for link building as well. They may need it as much as you do, and you and your customers practicing inter link-building will mean more online engagement for your business. If your customer is also looking to build their own online profile, it’s a win-win!
4. Ensure that your NAP is consistent
The term “NAP” [Name, Address and Phone] refers to the particulars of your business. Make sure that these details - the most crucial of them all, have been listed identically across every website. Every domain that your business is listed on should share the same particulars for your business, and consistently recorded. Think of it this way: having taken the decision to patronise a particular business, if their details confused you, would you be more, or less, likely to continue giving them business?
To check the consistency of your NAP, use a rank tracking software. That will be able to tell you where the inconsistencies are, which means that you can then contact the owners of those domains to correct your information.
NAP is part of your on-page listing, making it important not only for local listing rankings, but for organic rankings as well.
There are so many small factors that sound very simplistic - but go a long way in promoting your business online. Something as simple as just walking up to your customer and speaking to them about reviewing your business online pays back dividends you may not have expected. It may sound complex, but local SEO starts small, from things one might have considered basic, or simplistic.
Local SEO is an extremely helpful way to increase your sales funnel, and having a well optimized strategy is relevant and essential for your business. Focusing on getting even the smallest - and broadest of details right online, and having your customers involved in helping build your reputation online, can make a significant difference.
What are some local SEO strategies that have helped your business?