As a small business owner, the internet is probably your most powerful marketing tool. Most people search online for local businesses before visiting them, so your online visibility can make a major difference in your overall success. To establish your presence online and expand your audience, you need to implement a high-quality local SEO campaign.
Local SEO includes all of the elements of search engine optimization that help you target people in your location. Like organic SEO, this practice involves a wide variety of strategies and is best produced by a digital marketing expert. If you operate a local business, you should know what local SEO is, how it works, and why it’s so important.
What Is Local SEO?
Local search engine optimization is a collection of marketing strategies that strengthen your online presence for location-based searches. While businesses without a physical location can target all types of keywords to attract customers, companies that serve a specific location should focus their efforts on the searchers closest to them. With a strong local SEO strategy, your business is more likely to appear at the top of the results page when potential customers search for your product or service in your area.
For example, if you own a dentist’s office, your goal should be to attract an online audience of individuals who are likely to become patients. If you target only generic keywords like “dental checkups” or “dental crowns,” the users who discover your website could be located anywhere. Instead, by targeting a location-based phrase like, “dentistry in Vancouver,” you direct your attention to people who are able to visit your business.
Local SEO involves a number of strategies, and the best practices change over time. A comprehensive campaign includes a combination of content creation, user experience enhancement, and strategic web development.
Elements of Local Search
When you run a location-based search on Google, you might see several unique forms of results. Each of these elements can play a role in your SEO strategy, so it’s important to understand how each one works.
The Local Pack is the collection of results that appears at the top of the results page for a local search. You’ll usually see three business listings next to a map where each business is pinned. The Local Pack shows key business information from the Google Business Profile, including the address, phone number, hours of operation, and star rating. Being featured in the Local Pack is immensely helpful for small businesses because it makes it easy for prospective customers to find the information they need.
The Local Finder acts as an extended form of the Local Pack. When you click the “More Places” option at the bottom of the Local Pack, you’ll see a longer list of relevant local businesses. Although appearing in the Local Finder isn’t quite as helpful as appearing in the Local Pack, it does help interested customers quickly and easily learn about your business.
The localized organic results are the links that appear below the Local Pack in the results page. These results look like typical organic search results, but Google ranks them based on its local search algorithm.
The Google Maps results page shows similar results to the Local Pack and Local Finder, but the list of results is usually much longer. Users can move the map to fine-tune the location they’re searching in, and they can get directions, call the business, read reviews, or find other information.
Benefits of Local SEO
All local businesses can benefit from a strong SEO strategy. Even traditional, family-owned businesses that have existed for decades can boost their sales by building up their online presence. The following are the three key benefits of local SEO:
Extend Your Reach
Before you can convince potential customers to patronize your business, you have to make your presence known. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to improve your local search rankings. When you consistently appear in the Local Pack, Local Finder, or localized results page, you reach a massive audience of local individuals.
After you help your business appear to more searchers, the next step is to convince them to become customers. Fortunately, local SEO delivers high-quality leads. People who see your business on a local search page are actively looking for your product or service in your location. They’ve already displayed a need for what you have to offer, so they’re very likely to click through to your website, call you, or visit your business in-person.
Strengthening your search rankings also builds your company’s credibility. Searchers usually place more trust in the businesses that they see at the top of the results page. They know how difficult it can be to rank highly on Google searches, and they recognize that businesses that appear near the top are likely to offer high-quality services.
Local SEO Techniques
Local SEO encompasses so many different strategies, so a full SEO campaign involves a great deal of research and planning. When you work with a local SEO company, the following are a few of the services they will offer:
Google Business Profile Optimization
Optimizing your Google Business Profile (GBP) is one of the easiest but most effective ways to improve your local search rankings. Your GBP is the listing that appears in the Local Pack and Local Finder, and it includes virtually all of the information that a potential customer may need. By completing the listing, optimizing it for your target keywords, and regularly updating it to keep it current, you make it as easy as possible for searchers to visit your business.
One of Google’s metrics for ranking local businesses is NAP mentions, which is the number of times your business name, address, and phone number are mentioned on the web. These pieces of information need to be written exactly the same each time, so your local SEO company will check your website, local directories, news sites, and other online sources to ensure consistency. They’ll also look for new opportunities to increase your NAP mentions on your own website and on other pages.
Word-of-mouth marketing is incredibly powerful. Not only does generating more customer reviews improve your reputation, but it can also boost your search rankings. You can ask loyal, repeat customers to leave Google reviews of your business, or you could send an email after a purchase reminding them to write a review. Responding to both positive and negative reviews in a thoughtful, professional manner can strengthen your brand image as well.
Local Content Strategy
Keyword usage is the foundation of SEO. For your business to rank for location-based queries, you need to target specific phrases that potential customers are searching for. After identifying a few long-tail keywords that you hope to rank for, you can use these phrases to drive your content strategy. Write blog articles or service pages relating to your keywords, and incorporate the phrases naturally throughout your content.
Each year, more and more people use their phones as their primary browsing device. Mobile optimization is especially important for local SEO as people often search for local businesses while they’re on the go. If your website isn’t already optimized for mobile browsing, you need to utilize a responsive design immediately. Responsive web design adjusts the layout and sizing of your website to fit any device, so it ensures that all of your content is accessible from a phone, tablet, or computer.
Voice Search Optimization
Optimizing for voice search is a newer strategy for local SEO, but it can deliver powerful results. As voice recognition becomes more accurate, voice search will become a larger percentage of total search queries. Customers usually phrase their questions differently when asking out loud compared to typing, so adjusting your target keywords to reflect natural speech can boost your local rankings.
Backlinking is one of the most important local ranking factors. When your business receives links from trustworthy, high-authority websites, Google recognizes your own credibility. As a local entrepreneur, your best strategy for generating links is to list your business in local directories. You should also focus on building relationships with other companies in your area so that you can collaborate on marketing projects and link to each other’s websites.
The value of a strong local SEO strategy cannot be understated. By boosting your local search rankings, you make your brand known to a massive audience of potential customers. Planning, implementing, and analyzing a complete SEO strategy on your own can be difficult, though. To get the best results, it’s wise to work with a reputable local SEO company. Hiring a professional will provide the highest return on investment, and it allows you to focus your time and energy on expanding your business.
SEO North is an experienced local SEO company with the knowledge and resources needed to help your local business thrive. You can contact us to learn more about our services.
Published on: 2022-04-11
Updated on: 2022-06-29