Small business owners will take any ethical marketing advantage they can get. One of those advantages is capitalizing on local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategies that help you reach more customers in your local area.
If you own a small business, you may be wondering what local SEO involves and whether it’s worth your time and investment. This guide seeks to teach you many of the benefits of local SEO and how you can make the most of it, to help you decide whether it’s worthwhile.
What is Local SEO?
Firstly, it’s important to understand the meaning behind local SEO. In a broader sense, SEO is the process by which companies rank on search engine results pages (SERPs). Local SEO can, therefore, be considered a specific strategy aimed at ranking in specific geographical areas.
One of the hurdles for many startup companies is to focus their efforts on establishing a presence and building a reputation in their local area, district, or region. They may choose to stay confined to these areas long-term, or they may ultimately focus on pursuing national or even international customers. However, local SEO is usually the starting point for businesses in a single location or those that have defined areas of service.
Can Any Business Use Local SEO?
The beauty of local SEO is that, if handled correctly and ethically, it can benefit companies of any size, sector and industry. Therefore, whether you’re running a local private healthcare practice or you manufacture specialist goods to sell to niche buyers, you can benefit from local SEO services.
The internet is rife with people looking for specific services in their area, with many sticking to the first few search results. Therefore, it’s in your best interests to get your business noticed by occupying these positions, enticing searchers to click through to your site and, in the long run, become a customer.
Why is Local SEO Important?
- Nearly half of Google searches have local search intent. That is an outstanding amount of organic traffic that could potentially stumble across your business website when looking for a local service in their area. Even if your business is niche, you have the potential to stand out to thousands of potential customers that browse the internet. Speaking of which…
- 88% of local business mobile searches call or visit the business within 24 hours. Mobile devices are the go-to device for local searches. This can largely be attributed to the prevalence of people using it while on the go, with many using voice search. Local SEO provides you with that chance to welcome potential customers at the right time when they need it most.
- Google’s algorithms understand context easier now. Google is constantly updating its algorithm to provide a better user experience for the searcher. It has made great use of artificial intelligence to refine the algorithm, understand search intent, and ensure that location-specific modifiers such as “near me” are not vital for a query. In other words, Google is making more of an effort to understand the context behind search queries.
How Small Businesses Can Optimize Their Sites for Local Search
You need to sow the seeds of success, which take time to bloom. What are the integral components that make a local business SEO strategy successful?
Build a Responsive, Optimized Website
First and foremost, you need to have something that Google can index. While social media profiles can certainly generate qualified leads, having a professional website that clearly explains what you do, where you are based, and how you can make a difference to your local customers, is the most crucial ingredient.
Optimized websites also make good use of relevant keywords in the website copy, alt-text, and metadata like H1s, Page Titles, meta descriptions, and so on. This will allow you to thread high-value search terms into the elements that your customers – and Google – are looking for.
Optimize Your Google My Business (GMB) Profile
Google My Business listings allow you to appear in the Local Pack on SERPs, among other handy SERP features like Maps. This is vital for appearing in sought-after positions in local search results.
It starts by verifying your business ownership on your GMB profile, which should also contain accurate, clear information such as your opening hours, contact information, products, services, etc.
Build Internal Links and Citations
One of the most powerful ways to help Google understand your website better is by interlinking your pages. When adding internal links to your website pages, make sure that each one points to another relevant page, with contextual anchor text to make it easier for navigation.
Speaking of links, external links are also vital as part of any local SEO strategy. There are plenty of reputable online directories – such as YellowPages, Yelp, and TrustPilot, among others – where you can list your business. These local citations are mentions of your business name, address and phone number (NAP), along with a link to your site.
Create Relevant, Engaging Content
Writing relevant, high-quality content for your website is vital for establishing any kind of SEO presence. You will, of course, need relevant content for your website service pages, but content can also take the form of blog posts, case studies, videos, infographics, and so on.
However, creating content takes time, so you may benefit from commissioning a professional SEO-trained copywriter that can convey your tone of voice, brand identity and objectives into relevant, persuasive prose, in a way that sounds natural and not-spammy.
Encourage Customer Testimonials and Reviews
Reviews are powerful and help push customers further down the sales funnel. 93% of online shoppers will trust a business after seeing that it has positive reviews. As a result, this can boost website traffic and, subsequently, your rankings. Put simply, reviews can lead to higher conversions.
As a business owner, understanding local SEO can feel like a mammoth task – that’s because it is. Understanding all of it is nigh-on impossible, not to mention how Google is constantly altering the landscape with what’s considered ‘best practice’.
That said, we hope that the above provides you with enough inspiration to start and, in turn, improve your business’s visibility.