Unless your business is entirely online, location probably plays a major role in your company’s success. The people closest to your business locations are the ones most likely to buy products or services. To help these people find you online, you need local SEO optimization as part of your digital marketing effort.
Understanding Local SEO
“Local SEO” refers to the optimization process that brings up your business when someone searches for similar companies in a specific area.
For example, if you own a restaurant, you would like it to appear in the first page of results for searches such as “place to eat downtown Cambridge” or “dinner near Union Station.” Effective optimization of local SEO makes this happen.
When considering local SEO, it is important to remember that you will maximize effectiveness if you optimize across the various platforms people use to search business in specific areas. While Google has a majority market share, a substantial number of people use other search engines. Many of these people will be searching on mobile, which means they will use a variety of apps.
While Google still dominates, you should also account for searches on apps that use Apple Maps or Bing. Even within the Google realm, results can vary somewhat depending on the specific app one uses to search.
Optimizing Local SEO
There are several steps to optimizing local SEO for your business. Follow these guidelines to help your company appear consistently in results for various types of searches from users in your area.
There are lots of business-specific tools where you need to list your company in order for its information to show up in the right places. Google My Business is the most prominent. Listing your business in Apple Maps and Bing Places also helps it appear for searchers using these apps.
Generally, each tool has straightforward instructions for creating your listing. Google My Business can be a bit more complicated to use effectively. These additional tips can help you fill out your listing successfully:
- Only put your company’s exact name in the business name field—trying to include keywords is against the guidelines and will negatively affect your listing.
- If any fields on the form are automatically populated, check that information for accuracy.
- You can only check one option for business category, so choose the one that best describes your business as a whole rather than focusing on a specific aspect.
- Once you have set up your basic listing, take advantage of the opportunity to provide additional information. Include hours, services, pricing or any other information searchers will need to decide whether to contact you.
- Add relevant, attractive photos.
Apple and Bing have similar processes for creating a listing. Again, you can optimize them by adding images and relevant information. Keep in mind that you want to give potential customers an idea of what to expect and to make it easy for them to choose your company over the competition.
To optimize keyword searches, you’ll need to figure out which keywords searchers use when looking for businesses similar to yours.
For example, if you sell craft supplies, your potential customers may search for “craft supplies near me.” They may also look for your company specifically, wanting to find information such as hours, menu or directions. Linking these keywords to your listing helps its ranking increase.
The most typical search format people use online when trying to find a specific type of business is “service in location.” This consists of typing the service they want and adding the area.
For example, they may search “gardening in Hampton” or, more specifically, “tree pruning in Hampton.” Other types of businesses may see more searches that include the problem the searcher wants to solve, such as “high water pressure.” There are various tools you can use to see what keywords similar businesses use and how they rank in a Google search.
Your business page should also employ regular SEO optimization that uses appropriate keywords. You need at least some of these keywords to include your location. If your business has several locations, making a separate page for each is a good way to ensure that each branch appears in local results.
In addition to appearing on your own pages, your business name, address and phone (NAP) may show up in a variety of online listings. This can include local directories, sites such as Yelp, online articles and more.
Check your local listings to ensure your contact information is correct. You can fix incorrect listings. It is a good idea to start with big data aggregators, then fix whatever smaller citations have mistakes.
Like many other aspects of digital marketing, local SEO is not something you take care of once and then forget. Regular activity is necessary to maintain your ranking. Be consistent in doing the following:
- Update your site’s content with relevant information.
- Use Google Posts to add updates and promotions to your listing.
- Read through and respond to reviews courteously and professionally.
By staying on top of your SEO, you’ll ensure that your business will continue to maintain a strong position or climb through the ranks over time.
If your business has a physical location, there’s no good reason not to do local SEO. It’s affordable, easy and can provide tremendous value for your company.
With the suggestions outlined in this article, you should be able to get your local SEO up and running in no time. Give it a go and let me know if you have any questions!
How do you feel about local SEO? Do you have any other tips or tricks to add to this article? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.