Local SEO (search engine optimization) is an essential part of any brick-and-mortar store or local service provider’s marketing strategy to bring in customers who may be looking for their products or services online.
By optimizing both your website in addition to your local business listings, such as Google Business, Yellow Pages, and Yelp, you can increase the number of visitors that will come to your business for those services or products. Without the use of local SEO, you will likely lose a large amount of potential traffic and business to your competitors.
Consider how significant local SEO is in today’s market…
According to BrightLocal, within the past year 92% of shoppers have utilized the internet to find a local business.
The Yellow Pages have a very powerful and useful online directory, however, according to MarketWatch, over the past few years its physical book distribution has declined significantly. They have even stopped delivering their books to some regions entirely.
The level of reliance local businesses have on search engines is going to continue increasing, as smart phones and devices are making it easier to access information on-demand.
So lets discuss some of the key elements to making your business one of the top local contenders…
Google Business Page
While there are rumors going around that Google+ is dead, the truth is that Google pages are still a viable option for businesses. Google Business pages that offer location, reviews, and information about specific businesses are still alive and well and often show up at the top of search results.
The most effective way to optimize your local SEO with your Google business page is to update it so that it provides the most up-to-date information about what products or services your business sells. It’s also essential to claim a custom URL so that your “story” will be featured on search results as the meta description of your page. Be sure to include information that truly represents your business.
Adding and verifying your contact information onto your Google business page is also extremely important because it establishes authority. Your contact information should contain an email, your website, your business address, and a contact number where customers can reach your sales reps. Do not get creative with your name, it should simply be the name that your business identifies as so that when people search for your business they will be able to find it. This is an important part of local SEO because providing the correct name and address will ensure that customers can find you both online and physically. This also ensures that your Google Maps listing will be accurate.
Another great benefit of having a Google business page is that you will be able to receive reviews, which not only help boost your visibility; it also encourages your prospects to become customers. For example, when customers are looking for a doctor, they will often consider the reviews as one of the most important parts of their decision making. Encouraging your customers to leave positive reviews is an essential part of the Google business page strategy.
It’s also important to add categories to your business page as well as your hours of operation so that customers can find you and can easily decide when to come by your business.
Finally, don’t forget to include a photo to your Google business page to show that you are a serious and established business.
Spread Your NAP Across the Internet
Getting your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) across the web all over the internet is an essential part of any local SEO strategy. You can get your NAP onto general and local business directories, as well as related websites. Whenever your business is mentioned somewhere on the web, it is refered to as a “citation.” There is a great SEO benefit that comes from receiving a good amount of relevant citations from reputable websites or directories.
How can you spread your NAP across the internet efficiently? The key thing is to remain consistent. Always confirm that your name, address, and phone number is accurate everywhere your business is listed. Don’t bother “stuffing” your listing with your business name.
Utilize a Schema
A schema is information put into your website’s code that allows search engines to pull additional information about your company and page content. Local businesses can use this to ensure that your business location and contact information is precise and is always listed on search results.
The website Schema.org is now offering a local business section, which allows you to list your business’ information and add the markup onto your site. You can use the MicroData Generator to generate a schema for your business from the information you provide. Once the code is generated you can have your website developer add it into your site code. Use a schema scanner to verify that your schema is providing the correct information.
Word-of-mouth is one of the oldest, yet still most effective forms of marketing for local businesses. A review can make or destroy your business’ reputation. You can use Facebook, Yelp, Yahoo and Google Business pages, Foursquare, or other similar websites to give customers an easy way to leave a review. By encouraging customers to leave a review and providing multiple methods to do so will help you make the best out of their word-of-mouth.
One of the most effective ways of improving your brand image is to be proactive towards your reviews, both negative and positive ones. The reason this is so effective is because it leaves a positive impression on your prospects about how you treat customers.
While it may be easy to thank customers for their patronage, it’s important to remember that your response to bad reviews will be harshly judged and are displayed for the public to see. This is why it’s important to sincerely apologize to customers when they have a bad experience and leave a negative review. By doing that you will be showing your customers that you truly care about all of your customers and that you aim to satisfy them.
If your business does not have a mobile-friendly website you are already being impacted. About 50% of overall website traffic comes from mobile devices and on Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 Google rolled out an update that would affect mobile search results to exclude any and all non-mobile-friendly websites.
Not having a responsive website isn’t just affecting your search engine results positioning (SERPS), It’s also affecting your overall profit. About 80% of local searches made on mobile devices lead to purchases offline. If your website cannot adjust to mobile devices then it will be difficult for your prospects to navigate and find what they are looking for.
Convenient web tools, such as Mobile Test allows you to test your website and see how it would look on the screens of most popular smartphones. If your text is small and the website is difficult to navigate it is time to invest in a new, responsive website design.
Local Citation Websites
As previously discussed, local citations, are an essential part of any local SEO strategy. Of course, those citations much include your NAP! Your NAP must also be identical and consistent across the web to gain maximum authority. Getting citations on respectable websites will also help you boost your local search rankings.
By now, you should realize that local SEO is essential to any local business strategy. If you haven’t yet started on increasing your local visibility, you should begin immediately. Don’t waste another moment! But seriously, if you need additional help or would like your entire local SEO strategy managed by professionals, don’t hesitate contacting Surfaced Media to take care of it for you. Good luck out there!