In this dog-eat-dog world, small businesses are constantly finding ways to beat each other to become the top dog in their industry. Pretty much everyone owning or managing a brick-and-mortar store knows very well how challenging it is to attract local customers.
This is where local SEO comes in. If it’s your first time to hear about it, or you already have but you have no idea what it’s all about, then you’ve come to the right place.
In this post, we’ll tackle what local SEO is, how your local business can benefit from it, and of course, different tips on how you can leverage local SEO to drive more customers to your store.
Let’s dive right in!
What Is Local SEO?
To put it simply, local SEO is the process of improving search engine visibility for local businesses, particularly those with physical stores. It’s what digital marketers and webmasters use to rank high in local search results.
Much like traditional SEO, local SEO also involves targeting relevant keywords. However, whereas the former focuses on acquiring a high rank in niche-specific queries, the latter adds geographical location into the equation. It’s all about capturing the attention of prospects in smaller areas.
Also, unlike in regular search engine optimization, local SEO places greater emphasis on location-based keywords, local content, and backlinking to local events pages.
How Can Local SEO Help Your Small Business Thrive?
Since most small businesses are counting on local customers to grow, the perks of this local SEO are undeniable. If you’re wondering why you should incorporate it into your marketing strategy, here are five reasons why:
- Boost Online Visibility
With the right local SEO strategies, people nearby looking for your products or services online will find your business easily.
How so? Well, once Google sees how fully optimized your website for local search is, it will reward you by ranking you among the top positions.
Most people will only click on the first few results. Google found that the first five results collect 67.6% of user clicks, and that doesn’t include the paid ads featured on the top page.
Having a solid local SEO plan is key to cracking into the top organic results and increasing your chances of getting found online.
- More Relevant Traffic
Targeting local consumers means encouraging web visits from those who might actually head over to your shop. As a matter of fact, 72% of local searches resulted in an in-person visit within five miles of the user.
Using a broad SEO approach for a small business that solely depends on local traffic can only lead to dead-end visits.
Let’s say you’ve posted a compelling blog discussing several hacks relating to a certain product of yours. Having failed to use local targets, you end up landing hits from different parts of the world. Although becoming an overseas hit is definitely something to be proud of, your odds of obtaining paying customers are pretty small.
- Build Trust and Authority
Securing a decent spot on the results page will encourage your target audience to trust your business and gain their respect. That’s because many people automatically assume that high-ranking companies are credible and trustworthy businesses.
Plus, but they will see you as an authority for your niche, which in turn elevates your level of appeal.
- Lower Ad Costs
Organic traffic has become the most valuable audience for businesses. In other words, you don’t have to spend lots of money for ads to gain exposure anymore. And, you have local SEO to thank for that. Ranking high is pretty much like getting a free advertisement for your business.
- Increased Sales
With local consumers ready to buy, showing up as an authority in your field will further entice them to choose you over everyone else.
If they aren’t quite set to seal the deal just yet, however, they’ll still be encouraged by your proximity and optimal availability. Instead of looking for businesses that are a few hours away from them, or those that require them to make a blind purchase online, they can easily visit you as a local.
Local SEO Tips to Attract Local Customers
Now that you’re aware of how big of an impact local SEO can bring to your business, let’s move on to the part where we help you get started. To ensure your local SEO drives you more foot traffic and sales, follow these steps:
- Create and Optimize Your Google My Business (GMB) Listing
Having an optimized GMB account is one of the most effective ways to rank higher on Google Maps and gain visibility in Google Search local results.
That’s why you better start setting up one now if you still haven’t. Once you’ve created an account, take all the necessary steps to optimize it. Here are some tips:
- Have your business verified by Google
- Keep all details as accurate and up-to-date as possible
- Add your logo, operating hours, your products or services, and acceptable payment options
- Encourage your customers to leave online reviews
- Respond to reviews, even negative ones
- Post announcements, events, and special offers to keep your audience updated
- Include quality photos and videos
- Make Sure Your NAP Details Are Consistent
To make it easier for people and search engines to find your business, your NAP (name, address, and phone number) should be consistent everywhere.
This should be the perfect place to practice your nitpicking skills. Pay attention to all the teeny tiny details, from suite numbers to punctuation and abbreviations. If your business name has Co. or Inc., you should certainly include it.
Always remember to use the location information displayed on your website as a basis.
- Create Local Content
Nothing says authoritative content like one that focuses on local issues. While writing about general topics no doubt attracts a wide crowd, you’ll want to prioritize local or industry news to attract local consumers.
Promoting local events, news stories, and other informative content on your blog will surely make you local authority for your industry. You can also create videos about the local nonprofits or causes your business supports to humanize your brand, or perhaps videos introducing your team in such a fun and quirky way.
If your business happens to serve various parts of a region, you can set up location-specific web pages on your site. Say you’re a real estate business, for example. A good idea is to create different pages for each location, with each page featuring hyperlocal content around news events or changes in the local real estate industry.
- Take Advantage of Online Directories
Getting your NAP into popular online business directories like Yelp, MapQuest, Foursquare, and Bing can give both your business and local SEO a huge boost.
Aside from your name, address, and phone number, be sure to include a backlink to your website, as well as a thorough description of your company. You might even want to emphasize a Chambers of Commerce membership in your community to gain an external inbound link.
Again, consistency plays a vital role here. All citations should be consistent. Discrepancies such as misspellings, wrong phone numbers, lack of street numbers, or abbreviations can get problematic.
- Optimize Your Content
Every new blog post is a new indexed page for your website, and a new indexed page is another opportunity to get found in search engine results pages (SERPs).
That said, make it a habit to optimize your content before publishing them. Use high-volume keywords in the title, header, body, meta description, and URL. If you can’t seem to come up with any geo-targeted content, you can try highlighting customer case studies or success stories.
- Get Inbound Links
If you’re not aware, inbound links are powerful opportunities to boost your local SEO, as they’re telling Google that you’re a legitimate business. This means higher ranking and higher authority. Just be sure that those links come from reliable and relevant websites though.
To get high-quality inbound links, here are three tried-and-true tactics:
- Guest blog on reputable websites with a high domain authority
- Post compelling and valuable content on your site so others will want to share them
- Consider sponsoring a meet-up or webinar, promoting a favorite local product, or hosting a community event
- Build relationships with prominent figures and influencers until you can ask them if they can feature you
- Keep Your Website Mobile-Friendly
60% of all searches are conducted on mobile devices, which is why Google now prefers mobile pages over desktop pages when indexing content in SERPs.
More and more people today rely on their phones to learn about a business, find directions, look up reviews, or search for contact information – hence why your website should be optimized for mobile.
So, what does it take to have a mobile-friendly website? Here are the basics:
- Use bigger fonts that are easy to read
- Speed up the loading time (no more than three seconds)
- Provide a positive user experience with an intuitive user interface
- Only include images that are relevant to your content
- Avoid the use of flash or too much animation
- Encourage Reviews
Online reviews are paramount, so paramount that 85% of customers trust them as much as personal recommendations.
Having satisfied customers leave raving reviews about your business is more than just getting a better search engine ranking, it also motivates more local consumers to buy from you.
Positive reviews support your claims of excellent service just as much as they empower other searchers to trust your business and potentially make a purchase. Below are simple ways to get more reviews:
- Send a post-purchase email or text asking customers to write an online review
- Leave a review request on checkout pages
- Place a GMB review request in your email signature
- Design landing pages for collecting reviews
- Embed a review system on your website
- Ask for a review in person after a customer makes a purchase
As for those not-so-favorable reviews, make sure to respond to them in a professional manner. Address their concerns, apologize, and explain how you’ll do better next time.
Local SEO is a vital part of any digital marketing strategy for small businesses that have a storefront or service area. If you don’t have the time to implement it, but you’re really keen, your best bet is to hire a Fort Lauderdale SEO company to do the work for you.
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