Why local SEO?
First things first. Here’s why local SEO is a good investment. People (ie – your prospective customers) use Google and other search engines when they’re looking for products and services from local businesses. How do we know this? Google has researched this and has hard data which proves this point; for instance, consider the following.
80% of consumers use search engines to find local businesses.
50% of consumers who search for local businesses on their mobile phones visit a brick and mortar location within 24 hours, compared to 34% of consumers who search using a tablet, laptop or PC.
Local searches are more likely to lead to a purchase: 18% of local searches lead to purchases within 24 hours, whereas only 7% of non-local searches do.
As you can see, not only do people use search engines for local businesses, they’re often ready to make a purchase when they search. What this means for your business is that local SEO doesn’t just increase web traffic (although it also does that), it increases sales! Here are a few effective ways to increase your rank in local search and boost sales.
1. Locally oriented content
When we talk about local SEO, people usually think of local directories, citations and of course, maps. While all of these are important parts of local search, if you want to go the extra mile and pull ahead of the competition, you need high quality, locally oriented content.
What does this content look like? It’s content which is about or speaks to your local area and really gets to the things your potential customers care about. One way to go about this is to create a blog for your business (if you don’t have one now) and post content about your city as well as your industry. Talk about what makes your city a great place to live and how your business fits into the local culture. There’s probably a reason (besides money) that you started your business, share this with your readers and connect with them on a personal level.
Naturally, you’ll want to reference your location in your content. For example, if you own a hardware store in Philadelphia, make a point of mentioning where you are and how your business meets the needs of people in your community. Your own customers are a great source of ideas for locally-focused content. Talk to them and share their stories, talk about your relationships with customers, there are a lot of different ways you can go with this. Locally oriented content lets you build a relationship with your readers which gives them a reason to do business with you – and also encourages other local websites to link to yours!
2. Maps, directories & citations
The first and most important step is to make sure that your business shows up on Google Maps. If people don’t see you on the map or can’t get directions, they’re probably not going to visit your location. All you need to do is to claim your map and business listing on Google My Business. It’s a simple process which lets you control how your business shows up in local search results and on Google Maps – and gives you tons of exposure.
Google My Business is only one of many directories for local businesses, although it is the biggest. You should make a point of claiming and optimizing your listing in as many (legitimate) directories and map providers as possible. Make sure that your name, address and phone number are listed accurate and consistently across every directory. Other than Google, the most important places to be listed are Yelp, Bing, Yahoo Business, Super Pages, Map Quest, Yellow Pages and Facebook.
Once you start claiming your business listings, you will start getting emails and calls offering you various services for a price, of course. Just ignore these calls and emails, they’ll stop eventually. Just claiming and optimizing your listings, social media presence and website should be all you need to get started.
You might also want to consider using Yext or Moz Local, which can make claiming and optimizing local business listings easier and can give you a heads up if you need to fix something. They’re not perfect, but they can be very helpful especially as you get started maintaining your listings.
3. Local link building
In SEO, link building may be the most important element. However, it’s quality, not quantity that really counts. It’s nice to have directory links, but organic backlinks are far better when it comes to your search engine rankings. Building local backlinks is like any link building in that you’ll need to do some research. The first place to check is with city-run websites, some of which are home to local business directories. In many cases, all you need to do to be added is to email the website’s administrator.
You may also find that getting involved with local organizations can help you to build quality backlinks. For example, joining your local Chamber of Commerce or Rotary Club can give you a high quality backlink. Google and other search engines give these links a lot of weight in local search since they demonstrate your connection to the community.
The idea is to build links from (or to) only those sites that you actually want your business to be associated with. Your links should make sense and this probably goes without saying, but never pay for a link. Link building is like networking – it’s about creating relationships and just as in business, relationships are important in SEO.
These are easy to use tips that can help your business to rank higher in local search, drive traffic to your site and bring customers through your door. Whether you’re new to online marketing or you’re looking to build on your success, creating high quality locally focused content, claiming your listings and building quality local backlinks can take your business to the next level.
Category Search Engine Marketing