A Beginner’s Guide to Local SEO
Here at LLD, clients come to us for, among other things, our search engine optimization services. And being that we specialize in helping startups and new businesses, many of these clients are, well, new to this process, and often think that SEO simply means getting to the top of the search results page for their particular industry. However, since many of these new businesses are brick-and-mortar operations, they may get better value from local SEO, i.e. being at the top of LOCAL search results (people searching for recommendations in their area,) rather than ranking first in their category worldwide. If you need a haircut in Boise, you’re more likely to search for “haircuts in Boise” than just “haircuts.” However, now that Google usually knows the approximate location you’re searching from—especially if you’re searching from your phone—just typing in “haircuts” these days is likely to result in hair salons or barber shops that are actually in your area. So Local SEO is a thing you should do, basically because local search is now the de facto way of searching for pretty much any product or service.
So, how does Local SEO work? What are the actual steps you can (and should) take to make sure your business achieves a good ranking in local results? In this post, we want to give you a basic overview of simple things you can do that will immediately enhance the way Google crawls your page for local information about your business.
GOOGLE MY BUSINESS
Google My Business (GMB) is quite possibly the most effective tool you can use to ensure your business shows up in local results, and therefore should be front, center and bold in your local SEO strategy, and at the top of your to-do list. All legitimate local businesses get a free listing on GMB, which you can claim by going to their website. Once you’ve done this, Google will be able to list important info about your business on on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) including your business hours, address, phone number, and so on.
It’s worth noting that, if you decide to claim your business on GMB, you should make the effort to complete all the info on your company’s profile, otherwise others can “suggest” edits which may get inadvertently added to your profile if you’re not extremely vigilant about monitoring “pending” edit suggestions. The safest bet is to complete all the info yourself.
There are a whole suite of features offered by GMB, including online reviews, text messaging with potential customers, and customer Q & A — all of which will help boost your business’s profile with Google. However, the most recent (and important, IMO) change to the feature-set is the addition of “posts.” These are basically little ads (which you create) that show up within your business profile on SERPs. Posts are not only a great source of free advertising for your business, but they provide an opportunity to keep people updated on timely information like sales and promotions, holiday hours, news about your business, etc. The main caveat here is that the ads only stay published for one week, a tactic that’s designed to prevent the SERPs from being littered with outdated info. It also has the added benefit, though, of forcing you regularly check in on your listing and hopefully update any other outdated info, which is good for you, Google, and everyone.
While Google My Business is definitely the most powerful option, there are other local SEO tactics as well, a few of which we’ll explore below.
ONLINE REVIEW SITES
Since we already published a fairly lengthy post on managing your online reviews, we won’t reinvent the wheel in this one. Suffice it to say that creating and maintaining listings on local review sites such as Yelp should be a key part of any local SEO strategy. When a potential customer searches for a business like yours online, they not only want to know that you simply exist, but also that others in the community have done business with you and, ideally, would recommend you. One of the reasons Google actually puts the star rating in the search results for sites like Yelp, Amazon, and Foursquare is because they know that once searchers see that a place or product has been reviewed, that will entice others to click through and see if, based on other reviews, you have what they are looking for.
SOCIAL MEDIA SITES
Another major consideration when developing a local SEO strategy should be how you present your business on social media. It’s not necessarily the easiest nor most intuitive process to integrate your social platforms into a local SEO strategy, but with some creativity you may be able to find interesting ways to boost your local SEO using these platforms. Some examples of easy ways to do this are to: make sure you’re encouraging user reviews on Facebook, engaging with local community organizations and businesses on ALL you platforms, or utilizing the geofiltering feature on SnapChat. These may not have the direct one-to-one effect of causing a greater local search presence, but if when are engaging those in your local community, the greater the chance that those same people will start leaving you Yelp reviews, or engaging with your GMB page.
ON-PAGE LOCAL SEO TACTICS
So far we’ve focused exclusively on building your local seo capital using 3rd party tools and websites, but there’s much that can be done on your own website that will enhance your local SEO. For example:
- Include your location, along with your business name, in the title tag of your home page or landing page.
- Include a (local) click-to-call phone number on your home page or landing page.
- Make sure you’re using a responsive design (this is just good SEO in general, but worth mentioning as it could tip the scales in your favor if your local competitors don’t have responsive websites.
- Use a local image (skyline, local monument, etc.) in your homepage header or somewhere on your home/landing page. This works not only for local SEO (be sure to add the location to the image’s ALT Text) but also gives your visitor a familiar frame of reference when they come to your site.
- Try to add your business’s location along with relevant keywords to your your landing page’s URL, H1 tags, and content.
- Embedding a Google Map into your homepage is another great way to help customers find you, and boost your local SEO.
LINK BUILDING FOR LOCAL SEO
Finally, one of the most important aspects of local SEO—just as it is for regular SEO—is link building, The difference is that in getting links back to your site for local SEO, you’ll want to focus on having other LOCAL businesses link back to you, instead of simply relying on “domain authority” which is what you’d focus on for a normal SEO strategy. Ideally, sites linking back to you would have both, but for local SEO, our emphasis will be on local businesses.
Further, you’ll want to get links from sites that are not only local, but also relevant to your business. Returning to our barber/hair salon example, an ideal link might be one from an article in a local newspaper that lists your business as one of the top hair salons in town. Depending on the nature of your business, it may also be possible to get links back from competitors. Given that we now live in the 21st century, more and more business owners are beginning to see the value of cooperation, synergy and community and realize that by helping you, they may also be helping themselves.
Another tactic worth considering is reaching out to local “influencers” in your community and having them review or write about your business. These could be bloggers, journalists, TV personalities, or anyone else in your area who has the potential to reach a larger audience than you might on your own. Such people are often grateful for new story/blog ideas, so be sure to spend some time on your pitch before reaching out, as they can have a tremendous impact on your local seo and your site traffic in general.
Of course, we know you’re busy running your business, and putting together a local SEO strategy can be time consuming. If you need help, feel free to reach out to LLD, as our SEO experts can loan you a helping hand at an affordable rate!
Filed under: SEO