Local search engine optimization (local SEO) can be a significant factor in helping small businesses improve their visibility on search engines. Google rankings, reviews, and listings in online directories all work to increase a customer’s trust in a business. When a company is providing services to their local community, trust and recognition mean a lot. People conduct local searches to find specific businesses, and around 40% of searches have local intent. Those who don’t have a particular company in mind search for types of products or services. Without knowing who they want to use, these people are looking for providers who show up at the top of the list, come recommended by an online directory, or have good reviews. Here are 21 local SEO tips to increase your chances of showing up on search results when this happens.
#1 Create a Physical Presence
Local SEO starts with your physical presence. You need a permanent address, not just a PO box, shared office, or forwarding address. The basis of your credibility is to prove you are local and establish a location.
#2 Set Up Your Google My Business Account
Claiming your Google My Business account ensures accurate and consistent information across the internet. You can verify your name, address, and phone number. Include images to give your listing credibility. Create listings for all of your locations, so each one shows up in a local search. Including a menu or services in your listing helps give searchers additional information.
By optimizing your business for this type of search, customers will see what you offer before they look at your competitors. Only 44% of companies have claimed their Google My Business listing, a free listing that Google makes available to almost any business, opening the door for you to step in and increase your search results before someone else does.
#3 Create Social Media Profiles
Followers want to see that you are a real person, not a faceless brand. They want to see your thoughts and suggestions. Consumers care less about money and more about relationships. Take time to develop and nurture the relationship you have with your consumer base. Show them the real you.
#4 Use Pictures
Pictures are powerful. Consider posting pictures of your business’s daily life. Followers want to see real, unfiltered facts. Sharing your daily routine with your consumers on a regular basis keeps them connected to your brand.
#5 Get Reviews
People like to hear about first-hand experiences when shopping for service providers. Posting reviews on your site helps improve your chances of conversion because people feel you’re more trustworthy.
Reach out to current customers and ask them to provide reviews. Make sure you have their consent before posting it on the web or allow them to write the reviews themselves using the social media accounts you’ve already created.
Don’t filter bad reviews. You’re never going to be perfect, and bad reviews help you to iron out the kinks in your processes. Bad reviews are good learning and growth opportunities. Just make sure you also communicate with those reviewers to ensure they ultimately leave happy, even if they had an issue along the way.
#6 Create a Contact Page
Make sure your website has a contact page. Including a Google map helps with directions. Create call links for Skype of phone calls. This is especially useful if someone is searching for you on mobile. Leave social media links as an alternative way to learn more and contact you. Your full address and any images of your storefront or interior are also helpful on this page.
#7 Publish Contact Information on Every Page
You should publish your name, address, and phone number on every page of your website. People shouldn’t have to dig for necessary contact information when they need it. While having a detailed contact page is crucial, providing the basics on every page subtly encourages people to call you no matter where they are on your site.
Regularly review your SEO techniques using a tool like Google Analytics, Tag Manager, or Search Console. An SEO site audit is a great way to identify areas for improvement and regroup your team to move forward with the right local SEO strategy.
Tracking and monitoring rankings using a credible rank tracker can help you uncover the keywords that should be focused on or that are to be avoided in your local SEO campaign. Checking sources of local traffic also uncovers insights as to how your marketing and SEO strategies are performing.
#9 Use Backlinks
Search engines are smart enough to recognize quality over quantity, so link building is an essential marketing tool that you shouldn’t overlook. Acquiring links from education websites and other trusted industry experts can drastically increase your rank on any search engine and make you easier to find.
Backlinks foster a community of learning and show your audience that you care what other industry experts think. It shows your clients that you value continuous improvement.
#10 Sign Up for Local Web Directories
Authoritative directories are a resource for people who need answers. Make sure you have listings on Yelp, Whitepages, and other online local directories. Add a link to your website, photos, or reviews to increase your credibility.
#11 Create Local Content
Use your website or blog to publish interviews with local businesses or industry experts. Survey the community for buying habits, hobbies, and opinions. Create a listing of local attractions or events that support your business objectives. Sponsoring, organizing, or promoting local fundraisers creates awareness of your interest in giving back to the community.
#12 Maintain Regular Engagement
Engaging online with people who already interact with you and your website promotes your website to relevant audiences. By showing an interest in your followers, you present yourself as genuine and sincere, and you can provide a more meaningful and customized experience for them. Use a blog to accomplish some of this. You can create shareable content by being unique and original. Linking to other blogs or external sources shows that you foster a community of sharing within the industry and value the opinions of other industry experts.
#13 Offer Freebies
Online promotions or contests engage your social media followers, inspire friendly competition, and offer freebies that everyone likes. This is one of my favorite SEO marketing techniques because it gets the online community buzzing about your brand, no matter what sort of freebie you’re offering.
#14 Use Offline Marketing Efforts
Volunteering in the community establishes a foundation for building brand awareness. You can capture people’s attention by sponsoring local sports teams, collaborating with schools, or offering discounts to teachers. Some other ideas to stay involved might include:
- Volunteer at a charity
- Start a scholarship fund at the local college
- Adopt a highway
- Organize conferences
- Host local workshops
- Set up a booth at local tradeshows
- Promote brand ambassadors
#15 Encourage Engagement Online
Even when using offline marketing tools, you can still promote online interactions in several ways. Produce flyers with discount codes for your online store and include QR codes. Organize competitions involving online interactions like sharing, retweeting, or liking pages. Create an Easter egg hunt-type activity for your local community to engage people and encourage them to share their photos online or increase attention with a hashtag.
#16 Use Hashtags
Most social media platforms implemented hashtags after Twitter made us hashtag crazy, so they’re an integral part of your SEO strategy. You can use them in a variety of ways to increase your followers, stay witty, and be #totallyawesome.
Always do platform-specific research to determine the appropriate hashtag strategy for your social media. Each platform uses hashtags differently.
#17 Live Stream
Periscope is a great tool to use to grow your customer base and business. It provides innovative ways to connect with potential customers and followers. Live streaming is slowly becoming a player in the social media market, and while it hasn’t experienced the explosion Instagram and other social media platforms have, it has shown steady incremental increases.
You can use live streaming to unveil new products, produce behind the scenes segments, host Q&As, provide real-time customer support, create tutorials, or broadcast live events. All of these build brand awareness, involve the local community, and encourage support.
#18 Audit Listings
Search the internet for your company name, address, phone number, or zip code. Compile a list of every citation you find and regularly update the information available from contact information to extra details about your services and hours. There are also free tools available to automate these types of searches for you.
#19 Create Separate Pages for Each Location
Look into search volume for different areas to determine whether they justify an additional website. Choose the largest markets to create separate pages that provide the best potential return and then optimize your website pages to rank for multiple locations. Every page should have value. Remove duplicates by funneling visitors to pages that each website should share. Provide navigation to these location pages from your main menu.
#20 Win Awards
You can at least attempt to win local awards by nominating yourself for them. Search opportunities to nominate a local business in your area for ideas. Winning an award generates free publicity.
#21 Optimize Long Tail Keywords
Search engines show search results and ads relevant to a visitor’s search. That much is obvious. However, search engines make money off of showing the most relevant searches based on factors like location. So if someone searches for a nail salon in Kansas City, Google or Bing won’t return a nail salon in Dallas.
Use this knowledge to your advantage by optimizing your site for more specific search terms that include your location. These search terms drive less traffic, but it’s more relevant, and these people are already in the market to buy because they know exactly what they want.
More and more, the internet is a trusted source of information, and local businesses can use it to increase their credibility among the local community. Local search engine optimization can help optimize keyword searches, enabling your business to compete on the web and improving local search engine optimization results builds the honest and trustworthy persona needed to stay viable in the local market.