If you own a local business, you’ve probably wondered how to compete online with other companies for a top of the page or first page search result. Yes, Google’s ranking factor determines your placement, but the good news is that getting that type of positioning isn’t entirely out of your hands.
Anyone can reach your website at any time. Still, local search engine optimization or local SEO allows you to focus your internet marketing strategies on those around you who are more likely to convert. With local SEO optimization, you can quickly boost your company’s visibility.
So let’s dive in!
Your business and local SEO
So, you have a physical brick-and-mortar location, or you serve a specific geographic area. Even though there’s a pandemic, and you don’t want lots of foot traffic, you still want your business to thrive! If this is you, then you can benefit from local SEO.
What is local SEO?
Local SEO is a search engine optimization strategy. It’s the process of optimizing your website to bring more online traffic from relevant local searches. When a person searches for something, Google will return top results with maps and local businesses for the searcher. Internet marketers who optimize their websites with local SEO have a higher chance of ranking higher than those who don’t.
Why is local SEO important?
Local SEO is essential for visibility purposes in general. However, optimizing your website for local search is more crucial than ever because of today’s landscape of a global pandemic. People aren’t leaving their homes to browse and shop. Instead, they are searching online first and contacting business second.
In a 2019 report from Google, mobile queries that contain “repair near me” have grown by over 110% over the past two years. In addition to that, Google Data identified searches for local places without the qualifier “near me” have grown 150%, faster than comparable searches that do not include “near me.”
If you aren’t targeting the specific geographic areas you serve, you could miss out on potential customers and sales!
The map pack vs. local organic
Google makes up 88% of searches today. With this in mind, optimizing your website for Google is vital. To do this, let’s take a look at the Map Pack.
What’s the map pack?
The Map Pack or Local Pack/Snack Pack is the set of 3 local business results in the SERPs with mapped locations pulled from Google Maps when searching a keyword.
This pack offers instant information such as rating, address, hours, phone number, and a visual location without clicking any further. Additionally, you can get to the website or directions with just one click from your search.
With the Map Pack located at the top of the search results page, potential customers see the local offerings first before anything else. By ranking into the top three, you receive excellent positioning, influence buying decisions, and showcase reviews.
How is this different from local organic?
Directly below the Map Pack are local organic search results. These are the organic results you know and love.
With the example above, you see the results are broader or in more of a list form. Someone looking for a barber will go through several clicks before finding what they want instead of the search results pulled in the Map Pack.
Getting started with local SEO
Some of the easiest things to do to ensure a positive local SEO experience is sometimes the most obvious too! There are a few necessary steps to implement before diving into the strategies to help your local business thrive in online search results.
Keyword research matters
First things first, keywords matter! If you don’t understand the keywords searchers are searching to find your specific product or service, then you’ll have trouble ranking locally and otherwise. It’s best to dive in, make a list of the keywords searched, and implement them on your site.
Google proves to be a great place to start with this. Start typing your product or service into the search field and see what Google suggests.
Quick Tip: Make sure your keywords use natural language because a 2020 report revealed 40% of adults use mobile voice search at least once daily.
Add your location and service areas to your website
No one will find you if you aren’t listed! Including your address in several places on your website such as an About Us page, the footer, and in a Contact Us page signals to Google that there is a physical location associated with your business. Furthermore, identifying service areas lets Google know what you service locations outside your immediate area.
Make your site mobile friendly
TechJury announced that for 2020 mobile market share worldwide is 52.1% compared to the desktop market share of 44.2%. How is this important for your business? Well, if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, then chances are your site has a high bounce rate on average.
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test is a great tool to tell you right off the bat if your website is mobile-friendly.
Ranking factors: Top 6 local SEO strategies
By now, you should have a good understanding of what local SEO is, why it matters, and some tips and tricks for before you get started. Now, it’s time to optimize your website. Here are the top 6 local SEO strategies you can implement today.
Google My Business
Moz’s 2018 survey outlined that the top factor for ranking in the SERPs is the Google My Business signal at 25.12%. Your Google My Business profile is your primary listing at Google. It is editable in the GMB dashboard and provides a snapshot of your business to potential and return customers.
Better yet, the GMB profile showcases pictures, questions and answers, and reviews that supports and verifies your business as credible. The more information you put into this profile, the more likely Google will verify your business as real and put you in this spot.
To optimize for Google My Business, create and verify a Google My Business page, encourage happy customers to review your business online, and link social media
NAP citations are critical to any local SEO strategy. NAP refers to your business name, address, and phone number. NAP citations are the places online where that information is listed. You’ll want to ensure that the NAP citations are listed out correctly and match without variation, ex: St. and Street. Consistency in citations shows your business is reputable, but also that the information is correct.
If you have a physical location or serve a specific geographic location, then be sure to tailor your content to that area. If you have multiple physical locations with products or services only available in specific ones, create unique content for each location.
By creating local content consistently, Google knows you are an authority on your product/service and are more likely to rank your website higher than a competitor who is not optimizing with this local SEO strategy.
Local link building
Google identifies link-related signals as the second most important ranking factor in Moz’s 2018 survey, but getting backlinks to your site can be challenging! Focus on inbound links from authoritative and relevant sources. A local Chamber of Commerce Directory proves as an excellent link source and one that’s relatively easy to obtain. Other ways to get inbound links are:
- Sponsorships or partnerships
- Guest blog posts
Reviews from customers
Reviews are a powerful tool and have grown in importance. According to a 2019 survey, 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses. The best way to get a customer review is to ask for one! Provide your customers with the opportunity to rate you and your product/service.
Optimize title tags and meta descriptions
The first impression a potential customer has of your business online is how you show up in the search results. How you show up in search results depends on how relevant your page is to the searcher’s query. By optimizing your title tags and meta descriptions with location focused keywords, you perform local search engine optimization. You are telling Google that you are relevant in that area because your location-focused keywords are not only in the body of your content but also in these two critical locations.
Ready to optimize your website with local SEO?
In short, there are tons of great ways to optimize your website for your local business. Implementing one of the six identified will get you on your way to ranking higher in the SERPs for the Map Pack and local organic searches. Interested in learning more about how local SEO can help your business? Contact us or call 855-316-9068 today!