Local SEO is all about increasing your brand’s visibility on search engines. Maybe you have a brick-and-mortar business that needs to attract customers to come through your front door, or perhaps you operate in a services industry that serves a particular geographic area. In any event, your goal should be to put your brand in front of as many eyes as possible, and this is where local SEO comes into the picture.
What Exactly is Local SEO?
Let’s think about this for a moment: 46% of Google searches are seeking information from local businesses. That means your local SEO optimization is key if you want to be found in places like Google, Bing, Apple Maps, and other search engines.
When we talk about local SEO, we’re talking about targeting this 46% of people who are looking for products and services in their own areas. Local SEO requires a strategic and targeted approach that differs from general SEO. When executed properly, it can help you stay relevant in your community and attract more qualified leads.
Facts and Fiction Surrounding Local SEO
For starters, local SEO strategies aren’t solely concerned with the search engines. If you’re operating a local business, other marketing factors (such as word-of-mouth advertising and print brochures) can also ultimately contribute to your local SEO efforts. It’s important to mention your social profiles and website on your marketing collateral so you can attract audiences in the digital realm, too.
One misnomer that many business leaders have is that Google My Business isn’t important. Rest assured, this is a myth that needs to be squelched right away. Google My Business is a quintessential marketing tool that should be utilized by every local business that wants to drive traffic and increase revenues. (And, let’s be honest, what business owners don’t want those two things?)
When you create a profile with GMB, you’re feeding the search engine the information it needs to showcase your company in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Your GMB profile will populate the Knowledge Panel on the search engine. In other words, it will offer information such as your contact number, address, hours of operation, business description, relevant categories, and much more. The more detailed and up-to-date you can make your profile, the more likely you’ll be seen by searchers.
If you think your website and social media pages aren’t important, think again. A lot of small business owners focus on traditional marketing efforts, thinking their digital space isn’t important. This simply isn’t the case anymore. With more searchers looking for local information on their mobile devices than ever before, it’s not only important to have a web presence—it’s important to be active and engage with the community online.
Easy Local SEO Optimization Ideas to Get More Local Web Traffic
Now that you understand a little more about what local SEO is and how it functions, let’s dive into the details. Here are some tips and tricks of the trade that can help you take your visibility to the next level within your own community.
1. Improve User Experience Across Your Entire Site
Google (and other search engines) is trying to find the best possible results for every searcher’s inquiries. That means the web crawlers are looking for valuable content, easy-to-use websites, and information that can help them tell searchers where they need to go. If your site is slow to load or looks untrustworthy or outdated, your bounce rate will increase and the search engines will see your site as a less-than-stellar place to send people.
In case you’re wondering, bounce rates occur when visitors pop onto your site and leave almost immediately. In other words, they bounce without ever interacting with your brand.
Almost 50% of mobile searches are performed using voice inquiries. This means your content needs to speak to people differently than it would have five or 10 years ago. In today’s world, people are actively speaking into their smartphones, which means your content and advertising needs to “sound” like it’s being spoken by a real human, too. The days of awkward keyword stuffing are long gone. Your website and advertisements should read just like they would if someone said those words into their phones.
3. Design for Mobile First
While voice search is important, and we don’t want you to let that hang out in the back of your marketing closet, when it comes to conversions, it’s imperative to design for mobile before anything else. 96% of Americans own a cell phone of some sort today—many of which are smartphones on which searching and information-gathering are performed. M-commerce (or mobile commerce) accounts for around $284 billion, or 45% of the total U.S. e-commerce market.
What does that tell you? You need to design a website that’s mobile-friendly so you can meet people where they are—whether it’s on their morning commutes, in the dentist’s office, or at the grocery store.
4. Write Longer Content
Longer content has a tendency to accumulate more backlinks. This, in turn, can often translate into better rankings and more traffic. It’s vital to keep up with fresh content on your website and social pages anyway, and the longer you can make your posts, the more likely search engines are to glean what you do and who you are.
With that said, 2,000+ word posts aren’t for everybody, and you don’t always need to say that much. Before you just start spitting words into cyberspace, take a moment to assess what’s actually necessary for your strategy. If you can say what you need to say in 500 words, don’t push it by putting out content that doesn’t really matter. On the other hand, if you come up with a beefy topic, run with it!
5. Refresh Your Old Content
You don’t always have to struggle to write something from scratch; if you’ve accumulated a library of content, consider adding a paragraph or two to existing pieces. Existing content already has authority, so it can be easier to bolster an existing thread’s performance in the search results by refreshing it with updated content.
If you’re not keen on writing content, that conundrum can be solved, too. There are many freelancers who focus on helping small businesses amp up their online content in ways that speak to the search engines.
6. Do Your Keyword Research
You might have noticed when you search for things yourself, you enter the phrase “near me”. For example, you might search for a coffee shop near me or a mechanic near me. Google will pull information from your GMB account and match it to the searchers’ “near me” inquiries. If your website and online content are built out to include keywords such as the industry you’re in and the communities you serve, you’re more likely to be put in front of those people when they’re looking for businesses like yours.
7. See What Keywords Your Competitors Rank For
Google’s great at understanding search intent. When you look at the organic keywords of your competitors, you’ll usually uncover other relevant long-tail phrases and related searches that can help guide your future content endeavors.
8. Set Up Your Local Profiles
We’ve already discussed the importance of creating a Google My Business account, but it’s worth repeating! You should also claim your business on Bing Places and Apple Maps listings to ensure you’re seen by as many people as possible. Make sure all of your information is up-to-date and accurate, including your business name, address, phone number, and hours of operation. Be sure to add as many relevant categories as are applicable to your business so the search engines will know what you do and who to send to you.
9. Get Going with Citations
Citations are mentions of your business in online directories and other places people might go to find the products and services you offer. You might need to submit your business profile to area organizations in order to achieve citations, or you might be mentioned by the people who create content for other establishments. In any event, it’s important to ensure that your business information is updated and accurate when it appears on the citation listings. Inconsistent NAP (name, address, phone) information can cause confusion with the search engines and harm your rankings.
Let Surefire Local Lead the Way to Your Local Leads
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