Explanation from SEO Mechanic’s, free SEO guide
Do you want to attract local customers?
Local search engine optimization (Local SEO) is similar to (national) SEO in that it is also a process affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results (SERP- search engine results page), often referred to as “natural,” “organic,” or “earned” marks.
Local SEO provides a rare opportunity to create your niche within your local community.
For example, every town needs a hardware store, but you don’t need to have the most revolutionary hardware options on the market.
Your location is the niche, and embracing that with your SEO is crucial to pulling in more customers because people make their local purchasing decisions based on one recommendation source: Google.
I figured it would be handy if I put together a shortlist for everyone to print out and check in with regularly.
Since brick-and-mortar businesses live and die based on their local marketing efforts, use this as your small business SEO cheat sheet. But for more information check out our Local SEO guide.
10 Actionable Local SEO Tips
I have listed the ten major elements of a successful local search campaign, including tips on:
- Leveraging business listing portals
- Creating a blog
- Social media
- Leveraging your local media
- Search engines
- Spying on your competitors keywords
- Improving your business website
1. Fill Out All the Local Listing Pages
From Google My Business to Yahoo, locally optimized local listing pages are a quick way to create an identity at the top of the search engines. Not only that but these local listing pages link to your websites and improve your SEO.
Sometimes you have to make a page, but generally, you must claim the pages. I would recommend searching for directories focused just on your industry as well.
Google My Business
The ultimate goal is to have the best Google My Business listing. For local businesses, it could mean having your business show up on the first page above some of the organic search results.
To get started, add or claim your business on Google My Business. When you create your profile, fill out as much information as possible and upload additional photos of your business.
Once your listing is live, encourage your customers to write reviews of their experience on Google My Business. Each positive review helps to solidify your place in the local market as an authority in your industry.
Our local business directory has clean and verified information for businesses. We organize our listings by geographical location and industry. Allowing our customers the opportunity to effectively offer another trusted data point for search engines and clients to reference.
Yelp is one of the most well-known local search directories. You can add or claim your business listing for free and add photos and details beyond your contact information. Listings on Yelp positively affect search rankings for Bing, Yahoo, and Siri.
Yellow Pages allows businesses to add or claim free listings that include an extended description of their business, multiple categories, and a link. You can also add additional photos for the business listing.
Bing Places allows you to add or claim a free listing with up to nine photos for your business.
Yahoo Local is an important piece to your local citation mission. You can add or claim a basic listing for free.
Foursquare for Business
Foursquare has over 50 million people use their platform to discover local businesses and share what they love about them with others. A more modern twist on Yelp with an easier user interface but worth the effort to claim your listing.
Beware of Duplicate Listings
Your business address or phone number might partially be connected to another business online because everything is recycled occasionally. Also, a company with multiple employees, like a law firm, might have numerous people connected to your physical location. The best way to find this out is to search your phone number or address in Google, Yahoo, or Bing.
2. Create a Blog and Talk About Your Community
Do you run a local flower shop? Why are you not publishing articles about the coolest things to do in your neighborhood this summer? It may not relate directly to flowers, but it connects to your business because your company is an integral part of the community.
These articles can also get substantial social media shares and lead to many visitors on your website.
3. Locate the Best Local Keywords for Your Business
A Keyword Planner is a beautiful tool for figuring out the right keywords to target. When people search for local companies they generally type in the town first and then some words relating to your business. For example, you might do well with Naples Dentists vs. Dentists in Naples, FL.
Want to try some other ways to get keyword ideas? Try typing in your keyword ideas in Google search, then scroll down to the bottom to see the related searches. Find these keywords and make a list of the best-performing ones.
4. Use These Keywords to Optimize Your Entire Website
Don’t overstuff your website, but start to scatter the best-performing keywords throughout your site. Your website content should be more than a list of keywords. Instead, use your primary keyword in 2-5% of your conversation.
Especially if it is a long-tail keyword.
How many times can you use a keyword like New York air conditioner repair in a sentence, after all, without sounding stodgy and boring?
Most blogs hear the idea of keywords and think more is better. Like everything else, moderation is best. Google has slammed a lot of blogs who just stuff keywords into everything they write.
In the early years of search engines, a business could easily manipulate page ranking on Google’s SERP with keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing is now considered a black hat tactic. If you run into trouble, check your competitors keywords for tips.
5. Reach Out to Local Publications to Write About You
Every town, country, city, and village has publications looking for stories. If you released a funny new flavor of ice cream at your ice cream parlor, share this with the local newspaper.
I highly recommend seeking travel blogs or websites that focus on your area. These are usually easier to land stories on, and the good ones have huge followings – oftentimes more than your newspapers.
Its the media’s job to constantly cover new and upcoming news. You are doing them a favor by bringing topics to their attention. Building a friendship with the local media can help you in the future promote your business.
6. Test Your Website on all Browsers and Devices
Mobile responsiveness is a huge part of your SEO strategy, so use a website theme that morphs into viewable components when seen on a tablet or smartphone. Check how the site works on browsers like Chrome, Safari and Opera.
7. Ask Customers to Leave Reviews on Your Site and Listing Pages
Having a positive rating can help lift your business in search results, especially on sites that allow visitors to sort businesses by positive ratings.
Only legitimate reviews will help your SEO, but asking your customers to leave you honest reviews on sites like Yelp, Google My Business, or even Angie’s List is not wrong.
Ensure Your Contact Information is Consistent on All Pages Online
This is one of those strange parts of SEO that doesn’t seem fair, but it must have your attention. All your websites and directory listings must have your contact information, like the business name, address, and phone number.
It gets weird in that it must remain exact across all sites. So, having Maple Street on one side and Maple St on another could hurt your SEO.
8. Select Social Media Used by Your Local Customers
Social media is great because you can test it out for free. Do your customers love you on Pinterest but never interact on Facebook? Get rid of Facebook and put all your energy into Pinterest.
Optimize Facebook for Local Search
The best advice I can give you to optimize your Facebook page for local search is to make sure you set up your page as a local business. This might seem simple, but Facebook gives you several options when creating your page. But if you are interested in local customers, make your Facebook page accordingly.
After your Facebook page has been set up as a local business, fill out your contact information, street address, and business hours. If you have a home-based business, include your City, State, and Zip code.
A complete profile gives you more credibility with search engines and helps to create a clear consistency with your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number).
9. Fill Your Website and Listing Pages with Visual Content
Visual content plays a huge role in SEO since it improves the user experience, and search engines can detect when a customer is bored or not interested in your content. 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text. And viewers spend 100% more time on pages with videos on them.
Fill your website and directory pages with images, videos, and audio clips if they relate to your business. If you need help sourcing visual content, check out sites like 123rf.com. They have a great selection of royalty-free images to fit any budget.
10. Schedule a Time Every Six Months to Test and Check
Nothing ever gets done unless you put it on the calendar, so keep this page handy and remind yourself to check your SEO every six months.
It is not unusual for consumers’ search habits to change or for search engines to launch a major algorithm update. Each year, Google changes its search algorithm around 500 times.
While most of these changes are minor, Google occasionally rolls out a “major” algorithmic update (such as Google Panda and Google Penguin) that affects search results in significant ways.
Bonus Tip: Embed a Map
If you enter an address on Google Maps, you can get an HTML embed code to add the map to your website. Just click on the link icon to get the code.
You can also click on the “customize” link to choose sizing and other features for your map before embedding it on your website.
Copy and paste the HTML on your website.
This is a great way to help visitors to your website find your location easily, and it tells a Google search bot more about your location.
Local SEO Recap
- Claim local listings pages
- Create a blog
- Locate local keywords
- Optimize site with local keywords
- Contact local publications
- Test your website
- Ask customers to leave reviews
- Select social media used by local customers
- Fill your website and listings with images
- Check your efforts every 6 months
Remember when doing a local search and social optimization that it takes time to see the fruits of your labor.
Let us know in the comments section if you have any questions about this handy little cheat sheet for local business SEO practices.
Would you add anything else to the list?