If you own a business that serves local customers, you want your website to pop up when people in your community search for your products and services. Known as local SEO (search engine optimization), this strategy is critical to your small business's success.
Local SEO is a method of optimizing your website for your geographic area that results in reaching people in your city, town, or neighborhood. If you run a small to mid-sized brick-and-mortar business, local SEO can ensure that people in your community can find your website quickly and easily.
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How Local SEO Works
Let's say you own an ice cream shop in Milwaukee. You want your shop's name to readily pop up at the top of page one whenever someone in your city Googles "ice cream shops near me." A solid local SEO strategy helps ensure your business stays visible in Google's local search results.
Google and other search engines filter search results by the user's location, using IP address for desktop and geolocation for mobile. For example, when a Milwaukee resident searches "best ice cream shop," the search engine will suggest nearby Cream City businesses. Rather than competing with the words "ice cream" in general, you'll be in competition for ice cream companies in your area. It won't tell the user about ice cream shops in Philadelphia (unless they specifically search for that).
Make Local SEO Work for You
Depending on your business, there could be a lot of competition for certain terms. In other words, Milwaukee has a lot of ice cream shops. You can stand out from the rest by having a solid local SEO strategy to ensure that your particular frosty treats come up at the top of the search results.
Optimize Your Website for Local Search Results
When optimizing your website for local search results, you must first prove to Google that you actually have a local business in the area. That requires you to have a proper (physical) address within your city or region. A physical address allows you to create corresponding landing pages that direct people to your shop or store.
Make sure you have the correct Local Business Schema markup on your website. This includes your address, hours, phone number, whether you accept credit cards, and all the other information potential customers want to know when they search for your business online. A complete, informative website lets the Google bots know you are a local business and what areas you serve. When someone searches for your type of business, the search engine can quickly and easily provide all the information they need.
In addition to optimizing your business's website info, it's a good idea to refine your messaging with a locally-focused content strategy. Your business blog may be technically capable of reaching a vast international audience, but that may be too ambitious for a small, local business (for now). Keep your message focused on your town, your neighborhood, and your community.
Set Up Your Google My Business Page
No local SEO program is complete without setting up and using Google My Business. This free tool allows you to manage your company's online presence on Google, including Maps and Search. The platform also lets you connect with customers, update your Business Profile, and see customer reviews.
Use Google My Business to stay in contact with customers and share your company's story. This helps users find (and support) your business easily. You ramp up your local SEO rank by adding details to your Google My Business page, including your hours, address, and website.
Don't forget to post photos of your location and merchandise. According to Google My Business, local businesses that include pictures with their profiles receive 42% more Google Maps direction requests and 35% more website traffic.
Speaking of customer engagement, don't forget about reviews. Google My Business lets you read and respond to customer feedback. Positive reviews and a high response rate are other excellent ways to boost your local SEO.
Google My Business provides valuable analytics that give you insight into how customers search for your business and where those customers are coming from. You can also discover how many people call your business from the phone number displayed in Maps and Search.
Master Local SEO With Social Media
Using social media strategically can also help improve your local SEO. You can accomplish this through posts that focus on your business's local-ness. Ensure your posts funnel followers right to your website so they can learn more or make a purchase. Whenever your product or service is mentioned on social media, it raises your company's local SEO ranking slightly. The Google algorithms notice things like this, so encourage your followers to discuss your business on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
In today's business landscape, focusing on local SEO is a tactic that can help make your business a community favorite. Take the time to set up a search engine optimization strategy that focuses on what your company can do and be for the local community, and you are likely to expand your reach. In other words, thinking locally can lead you on a path to business success on a grander scale.
It's easy to do the basics of Local SEO yourself, but if you need a more advanced plan of action, check out our partner, V Digital Services. As a Premier Google Partner, they know the ins and outs of SEO and have years of experience helping small businesses generate buzz and traffic. They offer everything from free guides to self-service tools to personal help from their professional team of SEO experts.
Master your local SEO and build that buzz now with their help!