Why Local SEO Matters for Your Business
Small to medium-sized businesses are more localized than they’ve ever been. With every new venture popping up, it’s more likely to cater to its immediate locale. Before the age of thick, rectangle palm bricks, word-of-mouth was an effective way to market your local business (regardless if it’s a city or a town). But with everything going digital these days, local SEO plays a huge part in attracting more customers.
According to Social Media Today, 97% of search engine users searched online to find a local business. 86% of consumers rely on the internet to find them, and almost a third search for local businesses at least once a week.
It’s a no-brainer when it comes to optimizing for local search relevance. Most businesses that we work with now focus their marketing efforts towards local SEO, which proves to be a powerful magnet for new and returning customers.
If you’re fairly new to the SEO game, here’s what you need to know when optimizing for local SEO.
What is Local SEO? Why is it that important?
Think of local SEO as a more concentrated and targeted search practice. It’s basically when a user searches for products, services, or events happening near them. Keywords like “dentist near me,” “concerts near me,” and “pizza place near me” are often used to localize the search results.
Local SEO focuses on giving users results within their specific locale to serve their needs. So if you are a service-oriented business or one that sells products, you’d have to consider optimizing your website and social media pages locally. By doing so, you are targeting customers from your area of location, bringing valuable answers to their queries, and enhancing your credibility and trust within your locale.
Differentiating Between Local Organic Search and Snack Packs
It’s good to understand what makes organic search results and Google snack packs different from each other to use the benefits of local SEO effectively.
Snack packs are what you see right away when searching for a term on Google, right below the sponsored results (if there are any). This is a box containing the top three business listings pertaining to your search term. So, in this case, it’s “dentist in Calabasas ca.” This is usually the case when you search for any term about the product and service industry, and would greatly help your business gain more customers. Being a part of the snack pack would guarantee a higher chance of visibility.
Organic search results are the ones located right below the snack pack. Sure, it’s always our goal to bring our clients in front of the search results page, but that doesn’t mean it’s the first thing you’d see. Organic results are further down sponsored ads and snack packs, so while it’s good to rank high organically, it wouldn’t give your business as much exposure as sponsored ads and snack pack entries.
With that being said, your local SEO strategy involves ranking high both on the organic results and snack packs. This would ensure that your local listing is easily searchable on Google and targeted to local searches.
How to Optimize for Local SEO
Claim & Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
This is essentially the first step to making it big on the snack packs. Businesses that are listed on them are the ones you can find on Google My Business (GMB). But it’s not their mere presence there that makes it rank. These listings have to be optimized with its full business name, the exact location of the store/office, the right business category, and contact numbers. Geo-tagged photos also help add relevance to the listing, so it’s best practice to post photos of the place while adding a bit of information on them. And like a Facebook page, posting constant updates can power up your GMB listing to the snack pack.
This should go without saying, but with everything searchable within a few types, scrolls, and clicks, having a mobile-optimized website will help your local SEO rankings skyrocket. Make sure that your site fits all kinds of screens across different devices and elements are easy to locate and use. Call-To-Action buttons are also helpful in this case, so have them be the first one that the user will see when visiting your website’s mobile version.
Local Customer Reviews
The first thing I’d look for when finding a good place to eat is the customer reviews section. You might have the best SEO practices and rankings, but if your reviews are close to none, your local SEO strategy would be rendered useless. Encourage your customers to post reviews (with images if possible), and be ready to respond accordingly for fake reviews that only tell one side of the story. I’ve read so many accounts of business owners shutting down entitled customer reviews/false-narrative reviews that have worked well to fuel their good reputation.
Focus on Local Link Building Strategies
Link building is a common SEO practice that involves building connections to websites with a high Domain Authority (DA) through links, which, in turn, would also boost your website’s DA. For local SEO, linking your website to a reputable local website will boost its local ranking. These websites include licensing bureaus, associations, universities, Chamber of Commerce, or local government.
NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. With this in mind, you have to make sure that your business NAP remains the same across ALL platforms and local listings. Aside from GMB, your Facebook Page, Instagram account, Twitter profile, and local website listings have to have the same information for its NAP. Look out for simple errors such as misspellings and missing numbers to avoid these errors in your local SEO strategy.
Engage in Social Listening
Knowing what the streets are saying has been a strategy used by lots of businesses and institutions over the years. No, we’re not telling you to take to the streets and spy on people. Instead, this is what we call social listening or keeping tabs on the conversations happening locally and online. What is your audience talking about with regards to your business (or lack thereof)? What’s a need that you can provide a solution for? What’s the latest review that needs urgent attention? Social listening is an effective way to know what customers are talking about and figure out what kind of content would add value to the conversation.
These are the essential steps you need to take for your local SEO strategy to bear fruit. With everything that’s going on around us (and the entire world), people are taking everything online and minimizing their exposure outside. The best way to reach out, albeit virtually, is to purposefully integrate these local SEO strategies and serve your customers well.
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