Local customers are searching for your products and services. The difference between them finding you or your competitors is local search. And yes, you need it. Local SEO (search engine optimization) is the art of making sure that customers can easily find you.
Here are ten steps you can take to dominate your local search results.
1. Keep Your Important Information Consistent Across the Web
If your business has been around longer than a couple of months, your business listing is already all over the web. Business directories, your website, social media, there are many places with your business name, address, phone number, and website information. Ensuring every listing is consistent is key to local search.
Search engines like Google can’t walk to your storefront and verify you are a legitimate business. So they use the number and consistency of your name, address, phone number, and website across the web (business citations) as the primary way to gauge your relevance.
If your business has moved or changed phone numbers, you might have incorrect listings out there which will hurt your SEO legitimacy and will result in fewer customers finding you. Even if you’ve never moved, incorrect addresses can creep into business listings in the form of typos. This is more common than one might think.
To check, search your business name and city and click on every directory listing you find and make sure the name, address, phone number, and website listed matches what’s on your own website. If you find any error, you can often contact the list owner and ask them to update it or you might need to create an account to fix the listing. Often, these changes take a lot of time and effort to get changed but are 100% worth it. Start the process now.
2. Claim Your Google My Business Listing
Google My Business is key to staying relevant in local search results. When people search for products or services, Google shows the top three businesses at the top of the search results. These are Google’s best guess for which businesses meet the searcher’s need.
By making sure Google fully understands your business, you will improve your local ranking on a greater number of search terms. Because the listings show the relevant information, many customers never go further into the search results, and rather call or visit one of the first three businesses listed.
3. Let Customers Know What Area You Serve
You’d be surprised at the number of business websites that don’t list the city they are in, let alone their address. Don’t assume that people who find your site already know key details about your business.
Many home-based business owners don’t want to publish their home addresses, and that’s understandable. But you should still put the city and state you’re based out of, not just for SEO purposes, but because anyone who stumbles across your website won’t be sure that you can actually serve them.
Businesses with physical locations more often have their address on the site. But they should also list the county they are located in, the neighborhood of city, or even nearby cities. For instance, if you are a service business (like a plumber) located in a metro area, you’d benefit by listing all of the nearby suburbs and towns you service. Likewise, a restaurant would benefit y listing their neighborhood or district they are in. Again, not just for SEO purposes, but also to let potential customers feel confident they’re on the site of a business who can help them.
4. Ask for Reviews
Reviews are powerful. Eighty two percent of consumers read online reviews for local businesses before visiting them. Having online reviews makes consumers more likely to use a business. It’s also a strong ranking signal for search engine results. If all of your competitors have reviews, then it’s even more important for you to ask for them. Think about your own behavior; would you be more inclined to click on the link with zero stars, or the one with 5 stars and 40 reviews?
The best way to get reviews is by simply asking your customers to write them. You can do this in person during the sale, but perhaps the easiest way is to ask through email. You can come up with a template to send to customers after a transaction simply asking if they would like to leave a review. By including a link to the review site you can make it easier for the customer to follow through with their review.
5. Make Sure Your Website Looks Great on Phones
Increasingly, people are using their phones as their primary Internet device. This is even more so when they are searching for local businesses or products. Having a great looking website that is easily read and navigated is more important than ever.
If your website takes a long time to load on phones, people will hit the back button and go to the next listing. Or, if they have a hard time reading your site and can’t find your address or phone number, chances are they will give up and check out a competitor.
6. Speed up Your Site
A slow-loading website will mean customers will navigate away before you have a chance to sell to them. Large images and videos can slow a site to a crawl, especially on mobile devices. But other things can also contribute to long load times and a slow business website.
7. Implement Structured Data on Your Site
Structured data or schema markup is a machine-readable code that you put on a website to help search engines gather more information about your business. For example, if you host events, you can put structured data on your site so search engines can display a schedule of your upcoming events. Including structured data on your site will help search engines understand what industry your business is in, your opening hours, products you sell, etc.
There are hundreds of different types of data that you can include this way on your site including:
- Business Hours
- Job Postings
By including structured data on your site, you help search engines display the correct information about your business.
8. Get Local Links to Your Site
Local links are a strong ranking signal that helps your site appear higher on search results. Links from other local businesses’ websites, local nonprofits, or even your city’s website can provide your site the legitimacy.
Look for synergies with other local businesses that have the same clientele as you.
9. Put Your City in Your Site’s Title
Delve into your website’s CMS (content management system) and update your site’s title to include the city and state you are in. This simple tip will help your ranking on search engine result pages.
Before customers even click on your link, they’ll know they’re dealing with a local company.
10. Write a Blog
A blog on your business website isn’t about pouring out your thoughts and feelings. It’s about proving yourself as the local authority in your field.
A blog that provides real value to your customers engenders them to your business. You can create great local resources that will provide more local links to help your SEO strategy.
Hire a Professional to Help Your Local SEO
These actionable steps to dominating local search will give you a good start in helping your business dominate your local SEO. But sometimes it’s not about knowing what to do, but in having enough time to do it.
If you are a busy business owner, you might not have time to implement all of these local search strategies. That’s where hiring a professional can help speed things up.