Local SEO is vital and important. If you are not employing this strategy today, you are missing a lot of opportunities for your local business.
Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is more than just appearing on the search engines – it is about appearing on top of that search keywords your prospect client is using in searching for a product or service that is needed for that time being.
When searched, your brand should appear on top of the search. And if given that you are near in proximity to that said hot lead/client, your brand and online properties will be pushed on top of the search.
With this in mind, ESTRAT X is proud to deliver to you our own version of:
The Ultimate Guide to Local SEO
In its very definition, Local SEO is the optimization of online properties so that your business can be found in local searches. It is an effective way of marketing your business to potential customers online. In a digitally-focused world, local SEO should be a part of your critical strategies to employ.
Local SEO starts now.
How does Local SEO help your business?
In a technology-driven world, people now turn to digital means (desktop and mobile) of searching for businesses. Local SEO means keeping up to the game and becoming one step ahead in the world of online competition. Here are some statistics based on our research via Search Engine Land, Business 2 Community and BrightLocal.com :
- 96% of PC owners conduct local searches before buying.
- 46% of all Google searches are local
- 64% of local customers use search engines and directories as their main way to find local business
- 50% of local mobile searchers look for business information (like a company’s address or phone number)
- A whopping 78% of local mobile searches result in an offline purchase
Target local potential customers
Searchers look for a specific business name, but often, searchers don’t actually have a business name in mind. If you want to capitalize on this, Local SEO will definitely help you position yourself and spark their interest especially when your business is the type they look for. There’s nothing better than finding a business which offers the desired products and services and within one’s reach!
Translate the Potential to Actual Purchase
Did you know that 50% of consumers who do a local search on their smartphone visit a store within a day? According to Hubspot, 78% of local-mobile searches result in offline purchases! That is a simple demonstration of the power of local SEO. Statistics tell us that customers actually make use of their search results and make their way to make purchases. Potential customers now become your actual customers, and you want to have a wide translation of potential to actual.
Cost-effective Promotional Campaign
Unlike traditional advertising (billboards, leaflets, newspapers, direct mail, etc.), with SEO exposure is not wasted. Because it relies on people’s searches, your business reaches customers who need you and not those who don’t. Many local SEO opportunities are also free, such as, Google My Business, Bing Places for Business and on hundreds of other online business directories. That means free promotion for your business!
Customer Trusts the reviews
Customer reviews is one important aspect of local SEO. 88% of consumers trust online business reviews. If you want to attract potential customers, increase your online reputation and engagements, and earn worthy reviews.
SEO Tips for Local Businesses
Ranking high on search engine results pages (SERPs) is what every local business should aim for. When you don’t appear on search engines, your business is missing out on big chunk of opportunity to make leads or sales.
But what are the tricks?
(1) Website optimization
This is the A to the alphabet. If you dream of climbing that rank of being at the top, then you have to create a website and optimize it for the search. If you want to run a check-up of your website’s SEO, this SEO analyzer might give you a hand.
How does it work?
Search engines determine your website’s relevance and readability before it assigns your website’s rank. The more it finds your business relevant, the higher your rank will be in the search results pages. If you want to get an increased chance of appearing on the first page of search results, you’ve got to do some optimization for your website.
(2) Get, Verify and Optimize Your Google My Business (GMB)
GMB should be the first online directory you take your hands on. To optimize your website includes listing your business on GMB, and this is an excellent digital marketing tool. The reason why is because it offers you a lot of exposure with its elements such as Local Search, Google Maps and Google+ pages. Google My Business, previously known as Google Places, is also important considering that the statistics are 92.59% of mobile searches worldwide are conducted on Google and 66% of desktop searches occur on Google.
Google My Business is a free tool. However, you should not rely on it so much if you want an enormous boost in your business. Face to face interaction with customers should be paired with it to be effective. You can’t be 100% operating online.
Here’s a rough guide to set up your Google My Business account:
- Create an account and claim your business. You need to input necessary information such as your business name, location, delivery options, business type and others.
- Verify your business. This step makes your business legit. You can verify your business by postcard, phone, email, instant verification and bulk verification.
- Optimize your GMB listing. Uploading photos, videos and clear descriptions will help optimize your listing.
- Download the GMB app. You can use your mobile device to manage your business in the GMB app.
For a detailed instruction on how to set up your Google My Business listing, visit this Hubspot post.
To optimize your website means to create a detailed contact page. This includes your business name, address, and phone number (NAP). It is also recommended that you include your email address and a map to your business location. If you have more than one address, make sure to include all addresses in your contact page. Make your phone numbers clickable too. Since more and more customers are relying on mobile devices to make their business searches, it is to your advantage when they see that your website’s phone number is clickable and offers a prompt for making a call.
In optimizing your website, include testimonies of satisfied customers. This increases your website’s trust meter and reputation.
Website optimization also means establishing an identity or schema. A schema markup is a form of microdata which when once added to a webpage, creates an enhanced description of a website in search results. This enables your website to have a distinct identity so that you can categorize with other related businesses and in turn share the same online language. There are some tools to help create your schema, such as Hall Analysis. Adding the appropriate schema mark-up to your website helps you get a boost in local search rankings. You can also visit Schema.org to inquire more about how schema markups work.
(3) Establish and Optimize online profiles
Your website and Google My Business account is not the only platforms in the world of local search competition. You have to get your business listed on some review platforms such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Facebook.
Aside from review platforms, you can also establish your profile on social media which best target your desired audience.
When creating your online profiles, make sure that you provide the same information to every platform. You don’t want customers to scratch their heads upon seeing different phone numbers or addresses on your profiles. Remember, always be consistent in the information you provide, that way, you will attract potential consumers.
(4) Invest in local and relevant content
One important element of local SEO is the existence of local content. This works simply but catchy. Create a blog on your website, and make sure it is within your website, and avoid having it in “blog.website.com” or “websiteblog.com” formats. As you attract readers to your blog, you are also directing them to your business’s main site. Remember, your blog’s search-ranking results also contribute to your business website’s search ranking local, nationally and globally.
What should you write about?
In writing your blog content, mention local city events and neighborhood names, as well as local news. Don’t write about your products and services. People read more about information that they find useful, and talking about your products and services will just shun them away.
Creating a blog in your website also gives you the opportunity to build links with other businesses. Not all SEO solely comes from your website. Some boost in your website’s ranking is caused by inbound links. Inbound links are an excellent content tool that allows you to gain connections with related businesses. Having inbound links from websites that share the same information as your site increases your local SEO and referral traffic.
Who should you write for?
If you create great content but have no idea about your target market, you might as well let your blog content go down the drain. Great content and definite target audience makes a killer combination. There are tools to help you identify the personas of your readers. Zip Code Lookup was developed to help you analyze your audience’s demographics. It utilizes a zip code to determine a neighborhood’s median income, age, and consumer spending.
(5) Capitalize on customer reviews
Reviews, both positive and negative, can have consequential effects on your business. But as you aim for sitting on top of the search engine results page, you need to earn those positive review ratings. According to ReviewTrackers.com :
- 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business.
- 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.
On the other side,
- 94 % of the consumer say an online review has convinced them to avoid a business and,
- 80 % of consumers say the star ratings they trust the most are 4.0, 4.5, and 5 stars.
Reviews are necessarily important. These statistics show that the flourishing of your local business partly depends on the number of stars and the quality of reviews. A satisfied customer will most likely leave a positive review, and a positive review contributes to a positive reputation.
Great reviews are hard-earned, and you will probably chase after them for the rest of your business’s life. There’s no guarantee that all satisfied customers will write a positive review, and it’s a given that not all customers are easily satisfied and pleased with your products and services.
You have to make sure that you provide quality products and services and be honest as much as possible in delivering them. If you really want to capitalize on customer reviews, you have to have a bunch of satisfied and delighted customers.
While you’re hungry for reviews, it’s not always necessary to ask your customers for a review every time they visit your website. You don’t want to look pushy to them. People will leave a review because they want to, not because they are forced by some prompt asking them to. Avoid asking them for bulk reviews too. Aside from looking suspicious, it is also a major turn off for customers. Acquiring those positive reviews should be a long, steady process.
5.) Establish and develop citations
Citations play a crucial factor in local SEO. It is a mention of your business on the web, any combination of your business name, address, phone number, and website. Citations are more than just links, because they do not need to link back to your website. However, citations that contain links to your website make a powerful combination. Google identifies the mentions of your NAP all over the web and this contributes to your search rank. The more mentions you get, the more prominent you appear to Google and that’s one trick to climb up the ranks!
Citations can be:
Structured citations make use of a business listing directory. You can submit your business on these directories and then you get a citation for it. Example sites for structured citations include:
Setting aside all business listing directories, the mention of your NAP wherever on the web constitutes the unstructured citation. Common examples where you’ll find unstructured citations are blogs, magazines, wikis, social media and newspaper sites.
Citations help your business get verified. When your business name appears on other websites, you earn the trust of customers that your business is legit and in fact, existing.
Choosing the Best Local SEO Digital Marketing Agency
Now that you know the tricks of Local SEO, you have to get yourself working to climb up the search ranks. If you prefer to make things done with less hassle, there are a lot of Local SEO digital marketing agencies that will be as happy to get the job done for you.
How do you choose the best?
Here are some good tips in scouting Local SEO provider in your area:
Get multiple consultations and suggestions. The stick-to-one principle comes later in choosing the best local SEO digital marketing agency for your business. Don’t go for one agency just because they’re the first to offer you their services. Learn to look for the agency you are comfortable with and you think is the most suitable for your needs.
Make sure that the agency you choose specializes in local SEO. SEO is an ever-growing field, and it includes national SEO and international SEO too. It is better to choose one that is focused on local SEO.
(2) Learn about the agency’s SEO Strategy and Tools
It is equally important to note how the agency works. Are they working according to the guidelines set by Google’s webmasters about SEO? There’s a thick line between doing things the right way and not.
Ask them about their knowledge with Schema.org, and how they create a business’s online identity and profile. You can also ask how they work with citations, reviews, links and blog content.
It is also good to note what reports they deliver to you. Do they include rankings and traffic for each location?
Does the agency have adequate knowledge on how to maneuver Google My Business? That’s one question you might want to ask.
Also, don’t forget to inquire about their mobile strategy. Your business is not limited to the desktop so it is useful to know how they work at the mobile level.
(3) Look for company credentials
Credentials play a very important role in earning one’s trust. Make an inquiry of the agency’s work experience with past and current clients. This will give you an upper hand of the quality of the agency’s work. You might also want to ask if the agency has experience with dealing with businesses that has the same nature as yours. This way, you will be reassured that you’re in good hands.
(4) Inquire about the payment and benefits
Local SEO should be cost-effective, so don’t hesitate to ask about the agency’s payment system. A great Return on Investment (ROI) is ideal, but first you need to focus on the investment first. Is the agency asking for too much? Before investing for local SEO, it’s nice to have an idea how much it would cost you.
Ask also about what the agency can offer you for free. Can they run a site check-up, or free analysis and projections? A good investment includes freebies.
(5) What’s the plan?
Perhaps the most important thing to ask the agency is what is their proposed local seo plan and goal for your business. Every business is distinct and one strategy does not always apply to every business. It is your prerogative to know how the agency will work on your business and get your business name sitting on top of the search engine results pages. Look for an agency you can agree with and has terms that is suitable for your business.
Local SEO stands as the future of your businesses local digital marketing. An investment in local SEO means having an edge in the world of your local online competition. Your neighbors and consumers are always looking online for businesses that provide their desired products and services. Your mission is to appear on top and strike their interests. Remember what the statistics say, “…Positive Online searches will most likely result in offline purchases.”
So if you are a local business eyeing for success, investing in Local SEO is a must.
What do you think about the article, did I miss anything? Please feel free to comment below for any comment, feedback and suggestion. I would love to hear them.