Local SEO Optimization Tactics and Strategies
For small businesses, local search is not just important but a powerful tool. 4 out of 5 consumers utilize search when they want to get local information. This means that if your business isn’t optimized for local SEO search, you could effectively be missing out on about 80 percent of your potential clients/customers. This is what makes local SEO so critical if you want to stay relevant in the increasingly competitive environment.
As the competition between brick-and-mortar and online stores heat up, the decisive factor could be local search optimization in terms of how a website ranks locally. While improving your local SEO is not an overnight thing, there are some tactics and strategies which you can begin implementing or strengthening towards improving your business’s local SEO.
Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP) Consistency
It’s vital that you make it easy and convenient for not just people but also for search engines to locate you. For that, you will need to set up your business’s NAP (Name, Address & Phone number). You should include this as crawlable HTML text, somewhere prominent on your site. A good NAP location is in the site header or footer. Don’t make the all too often common mistake made by many of just including your NAP within an image – remember search engines cannot crawl images like they do with HTML text.
If your business has over one brick and mortar location, it would be best to create location pages. Such pages will provide site users with your business NAP, unique store descriptions, store hours, promotions, parking/transit information, testimonials from satisfied customers, and much more.
Register with Business Directories and Listings
In terms of local search, link signals have an important role in how your site is ranked. However, lots of website owners have been paying zero attention to directories and listings. These are generally accepted as safe sources of high-quality, relevant links. Find and prioritize top business directories where you want to have your business listed. Google, Yahoo!, Bing, Yelp, Citysearch, Merchant Circle, Better Business Bureau (BBB), Angie’s List, FourSquare, and Yellow Pages must never be overlooked.
A local citation is basically any reference or mention of your business found on the Internet. Similar to a consistent NAP, local citations carry a lot of weight in Google’s algorithm, therefore, ensure they are accurate. Confirm that all business details are not only accurate but consistent across each and every directory. Remember to be as descriptive as possible, use keywords, and write for humans.
With over 9% of Internet users making their searches on other engines, it becomes useful to check out and know what is being used. Research and study other local business directories. Make sure that you check out government websites and local media, or simply perform a Google search.
Obtain Online Reviews
There are many strategies that your business can adapt for local SEO purposes. Do whatever is necessary to get online reviews, preferably from your leading or best customers. One survey showed that 97% of consumers read local businesses online reviews with 85% indicating they trusted online reviews much as they would personal recommendations. Facebook and Yelp are the most trusted review websites, followed closely by both Google & BBB.org.
If you are not already implementing a strategy of how people can easily review your company or business on Yelp, Facebook, Better Business Bureau, Google, or other trusted review sites, then act now. The quantity and quality of reviews not only influence the consumer but also impact your rankings in the relevant local search engines and their influence extends to organic ranking.
Google My Business
It’s vital for local businesses to claim and populate their Google My Business (GMB) page. This is free and your business can benefit from incredible exposure if the page is optimized enough. To claim your Google My Business page, you will need to visit google.com/business. You will go through a verification process where Google will then send your business a postcard that has a PIN to your physical location.
Your next step should be to optimize your GMB listing or page with a solid business description, product/service categories, payment methods accepted, business hours, and so on. Make sure that each relevant section is fully populated so that your business listing is complete. Bing also maintains a comparable page called Bing Places for Business. You will go through a process that is very similar to Google My Business.
Improve your Internal Linking Structure
The majority of local businesses generally have a poorly designed website architecture. You will often find vital information only getting linked from the footer or main navigation. Where relevant, add internal links from within your content, blog posts, key service pages, and informational pages. When you improve your internal linking structure, you are likely to experience consistent lifts in your rankings.
The Possum algorithm update from Google in September 2016 has placed more emphasis on links. Google is specifically looking at local links or those links that are coming from other local organizations and businesses.
For your local business, online visibility becomes a must if you want to grow. The majority of people today search for a local service or business on the go through their mobile device. If your current and potential clients cannot find your products or business through their mobile devices such as smartphones, you are becoming obsolete, an Internet dinosaur. Your website should be mobile-responsive so that your potential customers are able to get information about you easily and quickly.
Mobile optimization has a huge role when it comes to local SEO. A website that is well-designed provides the user with a better experience. In addition, Google places great weight to how fast a page loads in its ranking. If your site loads slowly, then your ranking will continue to drop.
Google is also promoting Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which enable your site to load faster, essential for boosting user experience and improving readability. These two have a major influence in terms of Google’s algorithm. This means that a website will be indexed and ranked by Google based on the kind of content found on your mobile site.
Optimizing Business Locations on Website and Landing Pages
Another effective yet simple tactic that greatly helps in boosting local rankings is to embed a Google Map on the contact page of your website. It not only gives potential customers on your site a visual idea of the location of your business but it also informs Google to draw vital clues from both the map and your content. This makes it more likely for your website to get ranked higher on Google+ Local and in organic search results.
You can add Structured Data Markup (schema.org markup or schema markup) to your website’s code as it provides the search engines with additional information regarding your business. These may include your products, services being offered, reviews collected, and so on. Google wants businesses to use structured data markup as it aids their spiders to determine better what your content is all about.
Title and Meta Description tags HTML elements can be customized so that they reflect your web page’s content. It is the title text and description tags that get displayed in search results, therefore, consider them as a “mini-ad” to be carefully crafted. If you manage to show up in the search results, don’t blow it away by wasting those limited characters allowed by Google for your Meta Description. It’s your only chance of convincing a searcher you have what they want.
Let’s say you’re located in New York City. You may want to put the name of your business followed by “digital marketing agency in New York City” or “accounting firm in Long Island”. This way, you let search engines know that you’re located in New York City. It makes it easier for people to find you and your business rather than say someone who lives on Long Island.
Optimize Content and Images
Consider Optimizing your content for searches that relate to “Near Me” queries or start a local blog. If your business operates in multiple locations, ensure each location has a unique web page. Local SEO optimization is not limited to just text. Because of the increasingly blended nature of today’s search results, it’s now possible for the visitor or customer to see images on the different search listings page. Therefore, it’s important that your imagery is optimized for search engines.
Because search engines are not capable of reading images, the responsibility is on you to make use of Alt Tags to help in describing your image so that it pops up during any relevant search or queries. Even more important, if you want the images to be ranked in terms of localized keywords, ensure that you have added local keywords whenever possible.
Search Engine Optimization is an environment that is ever-evolving and marketers who lag behind or opt not to adapt accordingly often find themselves left behind. The fact is that there is no elevator-like to rise to the very top of rankings, particularly when the competition on the local scene is so massive. Although the online marketing industry is consistently and rapidly changing, online marketers are being reminded that white hat methods, and well-implemented local SEO tactics and strategies are the only proven approaches to success.
Local SEO extends essentially organic SEO to make your company or business more visible to people who searching locally for either products or services. Integrating or adapting the above local SEO tactics and strategies as part of your online marketing activities will enable potential local customers to find your business more easily and access the kind of information they need to make an informed buying decision.