30 second summary:
- Optimizing a small business for local search is a powerful way to grow local traffic and increase sales.
- With the vast majority of web users actively looking for products / services in their area, building local leads is vital.
- Joseph Dyson provides a step-by-step guide to improving local visibility for small businesses.
- It focuses on the importance of Google My Business, keyword search and implementation, internal and external links, reviews, and more.
Would you like your business to appear in the top search results on Google? Do you want to get quality traffic that will help you increase sales and grow your business over the long term? Do you want to achieve and maintain target KPIs?
If you answered yes to these questions, you may want to optimize your business for local search if you haven't already.
An amazing 80% of all local searches on cell phones result in a transaction.
You may have developed a successful social media marketing strategy and redesigned your brand identity, but the work doesn't end there. In fact, it's just beginning. As the competition gets tougher by the day, standing out from the crowd is more important than ever – especially for small businesses struggling to navigate the digital marketing learning curve during the ongoing pandemic.
To make the job easier without sacrificing effectiveness, you need to focus on local search engine optimization.
We'll break down the basics and provide a step-by-step guide on how to master local search in 2020 so your business can take the first step.
What is local SEO and why is it important?
Local SEO is the process of optimizing your business to improve its visibility in local search results on Google.
Why is that important? Because local consumers are actively looking for products / services in their area.
If you are running a small business, it is very likely that you are in a particular area; H. In a specific city or state. If you don't optimize your business for local search, you will generate generic leads that are unable to transact due to geographic restrictions. They also reduce the chances of you showing up in the top local search results every time someone does a search near or near me.
Instead of appearing in the Google 3-Pack (included below for reference), your business will appear on the 8th, 9th, or 30th SERP.
Even if it doesn't sound bad to find a not-so-cheap place in Google search results, the vast majority of web users never turn past the first SERP.
So what are you doing? You optimize your company for local search.
We've rounded up some of the most effective local SEO strategies for small business in 2021 to get you started.
Request and optimize your Google My Business listing
Using Google My Business is a surefire way to give your business that much-needed visibility boost. The popular platform enables businesses to increase local traffic by creating and maintaining a strong online presence in Google Search and Maps.
If you share relevant information about your business, Google will effectively crawl, index, and rank your business.
The result? Improved local ranking.
Request your Google My Business listing and tweak it to maximize your chances of being in the Google 3 pack.
We recommend passing on the following information:
- Phone number
- opening hours
- High quality photos and videos
- frequently asked Questions
- Attributes and equipment
The Google algorithm determines the legitimacy of a company by checking consistency across the board. For example, if your business hours are inconsistent across multiple platforms, your business will not be considered credible or reliable.
Even the slightest deviation can reduce your chances of appearing in the Google 3-pack.
Ensure consistency to dominate local search and increase visitor-to-lead conversion rate.
Also, keep your listing up to date by sharing new content and engaging with customers through Google My Business Messages.
Become a pro at keyword research
Keyword research is without a doubt the crème de la crème of local search. If done correctly, the process can help your content stand out from the crowd of the competition.
Why should you use keywords at all?
Let's sum it up.
When you own a small salon in Los Angeles, most people looking for salon services search for very specific terms such as "salons in Los Angeles" or "best hairdressers in Los Angeles". These keywords are a set of industry and location-specific phrases that customers use to find what they're looking for.
If you want your products / services to show up in the top local search results, you need to incorporate these terms into your content so that users get exactly what they are looking for.
Use Google's Keyword Planner to find local industry-relevant keywords. It's important to note that keywords are constantly evolving based on current trends, events, and news. Although you have carefully compiled a list of the top keywords, they are unlikely to dominate search engines within a few months.
Stay up to date by actively researching and re-researching keywords. You can also use third-party tools that suit your preference.
If you're not sure how to integrate keywords based on regional trends, use Google Trends to find out what the current trends are.
Use actionable on-page SEO techniques
On-page SEO is the process of optimizing websites to improve ranking and attract quality local traffic.
How does this work? If you focus on certain on-page optimization factors, your website will be more visible on the web.
These factors include:
- Title Tag: The title / subject of each page
- Meta Description Tags: A brief description that summarizes the content
- Robot meta tag: Code that web crawlers can use to determine which pages on the site to index
- Url: The web address of a specific page
- Header tags: Headings that give structure to a page, e.g. B. H1, H2 and H3
- Image Alt Tags / Alt Text: Brief and clear description of an image
- Canonical tags: An HTML link tag that allows crawlers to prioritize the main page instead of indexing duplicate page URLs
Whenever new content is created, incorporate high volume keywords into the above optimization factors on the page, especially the title tag, meta description, URL and header. This will help you attract local traffic and make your website more search friendly.
Use internal and external links
Focusing on your website's link structure is a great way to optimize your business for local search.
Internal links are hyperlinks that direct readers to content or products / services on your own website. Here is an example to make things a little clearer. When you write a new blog for your website and link an old infographic to your own domain, it counts as an internal link. Of course, you can link any type of content, including blogs, articles, press releases, infographics, videos, product pages, service pages, etc.
How does that help When web users interact with your content, they are more likely to access the internal links. This in turn helps Google determine the relevance of your internal pages and rank them accordingly.
If you're already ahead of the game, you can associate location-specific keywords and thus organically improve your website's visibility for local search. Together, these factors play a huge role in ensuring that your business is boosting local SERPs and maintaining a strong online presence.
External links work in a similar way. If an external (third party) website links to your content or products / services, this is considered an external link, also known as a backlink.
For example, if an established website like Forbes links to a value-added blog that you wrote a few months ago, you will get a quality backlink. When a large number of potential customers are redirected to your website, you reap the benefits of high traffic for your local business.
High quality backlinks from websites with a high domain authority (excellent rankings on SERPs) help Google determine the validity and reputation of a company.
If a significant number of established companies are hyperlinking your content, the chances are you're creating engaging, informative, and impactful content.
Google's reward system is quickly available. Their algorithm processes the information instantly and ensures that your company incrementally increases the SERPs. If you got stuck on the 15th SERP you could climb up a couple of pages.
Of course, if you continue to produce successful content and earn high quality backlinks, you can access the first search page.
How should you use internal links?
- Create more content so that internal links can be more easily incorporated into new content
- Check the domain authorization of existing content in order to use internal links accordingly (e.g. link to popular content more frequently).
How should you increase external links?
- Write high quality and engaging guest blogs
- Use the establishment of defective connections
- Convert unlinked mentions into backlinks
- Work with non-competing companies in your industry to create high quality backlinks
- Reuse and syndicate content
- Offer to write authentic testimonials for other companies to get a backlink
Optimization is not enough. Create quality local content
Optimization is not the be-all and end-all of content marketing. If you haven't created quality content at all, then optimizing is unlikely to help you get ahead.
The best way to dominate local search is to find the perfect balance between optimization and quality. Losing sight of either can do more harm than good.
Create meaningful content on local events, trends, movements and news.
For example, find a way to include popular holidays like July 4th in your content plan. If you sell pool supplies, consider creating a blog called "Five Tips for a Lockdown-Friendly Party on July 4th This Weekend." One of the tips might be to have a family pool party and order fun pool supplies online.
Building these connections goes a long way in making your business a familiar sight in local search results.
Of course, don't forget to use location specific keywords to make sure you are getting high quality leads that you can easily buy your product / service with.
Request and answer reviews to climb SERPs
Reviews are a gold mine when it comes to improving visibility for local search.
A whopping 53% of Americans read product / service reviews and ratings carefully to manage their shopping experience. In fact, 15% of the ranking factors for the Google 3-pack include verification signals.
If you do a local search, you'll find that every company in the Google 3 pack has a huge number of positive reviews.
Here's an example:
Google doesn't want to take any chances. The whole point of the Google 3 pack is to show the top companies for a given search. The factors that determine whether a company should appear in the Google 3-pack include NAP consistency, relevance, reputation, experience, and – you guessed it – reviews.
If your business has great ratings and flattering reviews, chances are you're getting a spot in the Google 3-pack.
But how should you generate positive reviews? The most obvious way is to offer excellent products / services and provide great customer service.
But there is a little more than meets the eye.
Here are some expert strategies to increase positive ratings for your business:
- Use Google My Business to encourage your customers to share reviews
- Request reviews from customers who have recently invested in your product / service by sending a short, personalized and engaging email
- Use social media to encourage customers to share their feedback
- Create a page of testimonials on your website and add a short form for customers to share their experiences with your product / service
Actively respond to positive reviews to encourage customers to share reviews in the future. Also, take corrective action to make up for your customers who leave negative reviews. If you do it right, you can turn a bad experience into a good one.
If you're struggling to give your business the boost it deserves, implementing these strategies will go a long way in reversing the situation.
Use Google My Business Insights and additional tracking platforms to closely monitor your progress to see where you are and realign strategies accordingly. Ensure consistency to show concrete results in local search rankings and traffic.
We also recommend keeping up with your competition to give a small business with relatively little experience a head start. Go through their strategies and replicate certain aspects that seem relevant.
When you develop a holistic local SEO strategy, your business will hit milestones and prepare for long-term growth.
Local SEO is hands down one of the most powerful weapons in the small business digital marketing arsenal. Polishing these skills can help a company actively improve SERPs for local search and build a wide audience that continues to grow organically.
Implementing local SEO strategies may seem challenging at first, but it is less complex than many small businesses think. The right tools, resources, and expertise can make the process much easier.
Incorporate these strategies into your current marketing campaign to get started. If you have any concerns, please feel free to contact an expert. Good luck!
Joseph Dyson is a renowned content marketing manager at Search Berg. He provides experienced small business SEO services and has run various local SEO campaigns over the years.