You’ve heard it before: local search is critical for the success of local small and medium businesses.
Good local SEO practices help drive more customer engagement and drive more leads to your business. In fact, 50% of mobile users will visit your business the same day when they find you through a local search.
But to have the best local SEO takes a lot of work, especially up front. You’ll have to lay the foundation for good SEO practices as well as layer in local search factors.
Building local SEO for your business also isn’t a build it and it’s done kind of operation. You will need to regularly evaluate and maintain your local SEO to ensure you’re coming out on top of your competition.
To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you build the best local SEO structure for your business.
Before You Get Started
Before you being on your endeavor to have awesome local SEO, you need to have a bit of background information.
First, what is local SEO? Local SEO simply describes a certain set of parameters and practices small businesses, especially those with brick and mortar locations, employ to help drive web traffic to their web presences when a locality like a city, county, or town is used in a search.
Next, know that competition for local search results spots is fierce. Several years ago, Google used to display seven local search results. This group of seven was referred to as “the pack.”
Just a couple of years ago, Google decided to reduce the number of results in the pack to three. Cutting down the number of recommended results in the pack significantly increased the desire among businesses to bolster their local SEO efforts.
Having your business rank in the local pack is so important because it’s where the vast majority of internet users end their search.
As you might have noticed, we haven’t mentioned other search engines like Yahoo or Bing. While it’s important to rank in these search engines, too, it’s more important to focus your efforts on Google.
Now that you understand the importance of local SEO, let’s get into the tips to improve your business’ local search strategy.
Claim Your Google My Business Page
One of the best things you can do for your local SEO is to claim your Google My Business (GMB) page or create one if it doesn’t exist. You’re likely familiar with Google business pages if you’ve ever run a local search yourself.
These results come up in regular Google searches and Google Map searches. Google has a handy video to help you create or claim your business page.
Once you’ve verified your business page, you want to fill out the following information on the page:
Business phone number (the best one for customers to reach you)
Categories your business operates in
Regular store hours and special hours for holidays
Logo, cover photo, and profile picture
Photos of the outside and inside of your business plus photos of some of your team/employees
All of this information is important to include in your GMB page because it’s all information potential and current customers will want to have easy access to. Also, Google considers having your exact address and business hours to be priority information.
But your efforts on your Google business page don’t end once you’ve filled out all this information. Your next step will be to encourage customers to engage with your GMB page.
Keeping Your Listing Updated
A key principle of regular SEO is to regularly update your web content to show search engines, and therefore potential customers, that your website is active. If you can get customers to engage with your GMB page by adding reviews, photos, and ratings, that will show Google that you have an active business page and business.
One of the easiest ways to get customers to engage with your GMB is to include some incentive like a freebie or gift card. To reciprocate, you can respond to reviews on your GMB which can help boost your customer service as well as your SEO.
Optimize Your Website
Equally as important as your GMB is your website. To have the best local SEO for your website, you’ll need to employ some basic SEO principles along with local SEO tactics.
The metadata of your website is what search engines read to understand what’s on each page. They do this in addition to reading the on-page content and alt text in photos.
When you optimize your website for SEO best practices, you want to have select long-tail keywords for each website that you want to rank for. Then, using those keywords, you’ll optimize the metadata including title tag, h2, meta description, and URL.
To optimize your website’s metadata for local SEO, you only need to make a small change which is to add your location to the keyword. Let’s walk through an example.
First, you need to whittle down your search term for your website’s homepage.
Let’s say you run a consignment shop in Estrella Village, AZ. Estrella Village is technically part of Phoenix, but Phoenix is a huge city. In this case, you’re best off including Estrella Village in your SEO optimization.
You might have some other differentiators about your consignment shop such as you sell high-end or designer clothes on consignment. With these criteria in mind, we can settle on “designer consignment shop Estrella Village” as our keyword.
Next, you’ll include the selected keyword into your title tag, at least one h2 tag, meta description, and URL on the homepage.
Don’t stop with adding the location to just your homepage. Add it throughout your website to help bolster your local SEO efforts.
Make It Responsive
These days, one of the most important aspects of web design and SEO is to make your website mobile responsive. Over half of web traffic comes from a mobile device, and users will leave your website if the mobile experience your website offers is sub-par.
There’s also plenty of incentive to make your website mobile responsive for local search. We already mentioned that 50% of mobile users visit your site the same day as finding you through search. In addition, 9 in 10 users perform local searches on their phone and on the go.
What this means is that you have the potential to capture tons of customers who are on the go every single day.
Increase Your Speed
Having a fast-loading website is another basic principle of web design and SEO. The faster your website loads, the more likely you are to retain users who land on your website.
Include Your Location
Adding a location page to your website can also help search engines determine where your business is located. All you have to do is add your address to your contact us page on your website.
You can also bolster that location by adding a Google Map plugin to your contact page to help users find you.
Create New Content
Similarly to how you want to encourage reviews on your GMB to show that your business is active, you want to create content on your website to show search engines that you’re active. That’s because search engines de-prioritize websites that have not added any new content or been updated recently.
One of the best ways to regularly add new content is to add a blog to your website. You can write blog posts to help explain your services or bolster your expertise in your field.
When you start blogging, know that you don’t need to blog every day or even every week. One post every 4 weeks is a good cadence, especially if you don’t have the capacity to blog regularly. However, establishing a regular cadence will help search engines see you’re regularly creating content.
Something else to consider is how often you’ll maintain the content of your website. Consider a bi-annual content check where you ensure all the information about your services is accurate and re-do the content if necessary.
Be Consistent with Your NAP
When it comes to local search, you’ll come across the acronym NAP. Your NAP – (business) name, address, and phone number are all critical pieces of information that we touched on earlier for your GMB page.
Inevitably, you’ll have many places across the internet that will have your NAP to include other review sites like Yelp, social media channels like Facebook, GMB, and your website. Search engines look for consistency across those web properties.
What this means is you want to go through any and all web properties you can to claim your business, change your business name to the exact same thing for each, and confirm the addresses and phone numbers on all of them.
Building links is another best practice for regular SEO but there are ways to make links work for your local business.
There are two areas you want to focus on in your link-building efforts. The first is on internal linking.
Internal linking simply means you include text links and other sidebar links to help customers easily navigate through your site to the next natural progression. Having plenty of internal links also helps search engine bots crawl your site more easily.
Referral links are where the magic really happens for local SEO. Referral links are links that direct users from another website to yours. These links come with a high value of trust, meaning search engines will rank them higher.
To build local referral links, there are a few things you can do such as:
Work with your local chamber of commerce to have your website placed on their website
Form local partnerships with non-competing businesses to promote each other
Participate in community events where the social media events page or landing page directs to your website
Another easy way to build referral links that’s completely within your control is to add your website to all your review site pages and social media pages.
Remember, building out all those links won’t happen overnight. It takes consistent work to build up a channel of local links.
Optimize for Voice Search
As the technology behind personal assistants like Siri, Google, and Alexa get better, there are more opportunities to capture potential customers through voice search. This is especially true for mobile users on the go.
We’re no longer living in the realm where we can ask simple requests of these voice assistants. We can ask them longer questions as we would normally speak rather than how search engines speak.
What this means is adding even more long-tail keywords into your website. Also, consider the searcher intent and natural speech patterns when considering those keywords.
The better you can phrase the keyword to match how a customer would ask it, the more likely you are to come up in local voice search results.
Build the Best Local SEO for Your Business
By focusing your efforts on implementing these best local SEO tips, you’ll have a website optimized for local search in no time.
Do remember that building great SEO – local or regular – takes time and you won’t see immediate results when you refresh your search results. Building SEO takes time and patience.
If you’re interested in learning what our agency can do to help you optimize your website for local SEO, get in touch with us today.