Local search engine optimization is essential for small businesses to attract and convert local web traffic. According to Search Engine Watch, 80 percent of local Google searches on smartphones convert. Mobile phone users increasingly use search engines to locate businesses near them. Small businesses that aren't optimized for local SEO can lose customers to nearby competitors.
Don't miss the opportunity to convert your business's neighbors into loyal customers. Adding local SEO strategies into your existing marketing efforts can improve your sales. Ranking in the top Google results for your geographic region gets you noticed. Small businesses in every sector from landscaping to auto care need local brand recognition. Here are 10 tried-and-true tactics for local SEO marketing that work.
1. Build a Google My Business Listing
Google is hesitant about suggesting local businesses that aren't verified. Therefore, the first step to local SEO is making a Google My Business listing. Create a Google My Business account using your physical street address. Input your phone number, email, and a website link. Click the "verify" button to get a postcard mailed to your business. In a few weeks, use the postcard instructions to finish the verification. Your business is now proven credible and added to local Google maps.
"Small businesses that aren't optimized for local SEO can lose customers to nearby competitors."
2. Get Your Local Business Indexed
The internet has become the yellow pages for finding contact information on local businesses. Getting your business listed on popular online directories is imperative. Users may reference reviews on websites such as Product Review, TrustPilot, Yelp, Choice, Amazon Customer Reviews, FoursquareSuperpages, Facebook, TripAdvisor, Angie's List, TestFreaks, Which?, ConsumerReports, Yahoo! Local Listings, Influenster, FinancesOnline, G2 Crowd, TrustRadius, GoodFirms, Salesforce AppExchange, Better Business Bureau, Glassdoor, Manta, Capterra, HundredX, Twitter, Foursquare AND your own website...just to name a few.
Make it easier to find your business by creating an up-to-date, factual listing on these platforms and improve your brand visibility. To make listing your business in multiple places less tedious, you can download local citation management software.
3. Publish Geo-Targeted Content
Geo-targeting is a proven local SEO tactic that involves customizing content by location. When adding website or blog content, pick keywords related to your city or region. Medium-tail keywords typically work best for local search engine optimization. For example, a great geo-targeted keyword could be "French restaurants Melbourne." Don't forget to sprinkle in some keywords like "best hotels near me" too.
4. Motivate Customers to Rate You
Positive testimonials from real customers are critical for local SEO. People seek advice from other locals on authentic businesses. High ratings are social proof that your business is dependable for quality service. How can you attract more customer reviews? Never pay anyone for fake reviews. Instead, give current customers some motivation e.g. send follow-up emails offering promo codes on future orders if customers leave reviews.
5. Generate Quality Local Backlinks
Google uses backlinks as a major ranking signal for local SEO. Backlinks are inbound links created when other websites cite your URL. It's important to earn backlinks from trusted local websites. Reach out to local media outlets and ask for a feature story. Request that municipal websites list your local business. Write guest blog posts and link back to your website. Contact local bloggers and influencers about name-dropping your business too. The sourcing possibilities are endless. For maximum outcomes with little effort, implement backlink building into your marketing strategy, public relations and promotions.by utilising all the available sources you have available and translating them into backlinks, you can easily develop a strong repertoire of backlinking in no time.
6. Appeal to Mobile Users
Local, on-the-go searches are frequently made from phones and tablets. According to the Pew Research Center, ⅓ of U.S households have 3 or more smartphones AND the Australia Talks National Survey, found that 96% of Australians own a smartphone. Failing to optimize your website for a mobile audience is a local SEO sin. Create a mobile-responsive design that adapts to any screen. Remove pop-ups and Flash plug-ins that hurt your mobile experience. Take Google's Mobile-Friendly Test to find and fix other unfriendly features.
7. Clean Up Your Schema Markup
Schema markup is a local SEO must-have for search engines to understand your business. It's the way Google, Bing, and Yahoo find data for the search engine results pages (SERPs). Schema markup creates the rich snippets that entice more local users to click through. Are you unsure how schema markup works? Don't worry because Google offers the Structured Data Markup Helper. This tool will help code microdata tags for better search engine descriptions. If you are after a plug and play schema markup option, you will also find Wordpress and Shopify plugins that do this for you automatically.
8. Optimize for Voice Search
Manually typing words into search engines may not be necessary anymore. Many searchers simply speak the words using Siri, Alexa, Google Home, Cortana, and other voice-enabled platforms. So, the time has come to adapt your local SEO strategy for voice searches. Publish conversational content with longer keywords. Don't cut out filler words like "me" and "I." Use everyday words and vocabulary at an eighth-grade level. Also, update your Google knowledge panel with rich answers. Develop a FAQS section across your site by utilising Answer The Public to see what popular search questions are being asked for.
9. Respond to Bad Reviews
It's tempting to tune out negativity and ignore unhappy customers. However, sticking your head in the sand will hurt your local SEO. Google looks at how many poor reviews go unanswered. Search engines get wary of businesses that ignore negative comments. Reaching out to disgruntled customers can actually make you look more credible. Address the reviewer by name and apologize directly. Mention solutions you're willing to provide to remedy the situation. Read our other blog article for more tips on How Your Business Can Effectively Deal With Negative Reviews.
10. Tag Local Business Photos
Do you have a gallery of business pictures online? Great! Users respond well to visuals, especially of local places they recognize. Images don't help local SEO if they're not properly tagged, though. Google crawlers can't comprehend photos as humans do. Thus, you'll need to place appropriate metadata into the pictures. You can do this by adding "alt text" with keyword-rich local descriptions to pictures. Or by downloading an EXIF editor to embed the geographic location.
"If you are relying on local traffic for business success, paying attention to local SEO marketing will be a valuable investment in gaining customers."
YOUR TAKEAWAY NOTES
Overall, small businesses particularly need to pay attention to local SEO marketing. Start by performing an audit of your current local SEO strategy. Analyze your website, Google listing, citations, and social media accounts. Conduct a search to find inbound backlinks to your business. Look at what local competitors are doing. Evaluate what's working and what's not.
Then, take the steps to make your website more location-specific. The 10 tried-and-true tactics for local SEO marketing above can boost your rankings for more online exposure.
What are your top tips to optimize local SEO marketing? Let us know in the comments section below.