The ultimate goal of any marketing campaign is to ensure that your business is “seen” by your target audience—that is, local customers who are interested in your products or services. In today’s world, that means focusing heavily on local SEO. Simply put, when nearby consumers conduct a Google search for local businesses, it’s imperative that they come across yours. That’s what local SEO is all about.
Note that, unlike with traditional SEO, the goal here is not necessarily to have a line-one, page-one ranking, but simply to achieve some visibility for localized searches that have a commercial intent. As such, the Google Map Pack, Google My Business, and Google Reviews are all important factors to consider.
Beyond that, there are some specific steps you can follow to get real results from your local SEO endeavors. Here’s a quick round-up.
Localize Your Website
Start with your existing website content, and ensure that it’s sufficiently optimized to show up in local searches. This can be as simple as including a few geographically-specific keywords—such as your city and state—throughout the content. You don’t have to overdo it; mentioning the city and state once on each page is just fine.
Also make sure that each page includes your full NAP information—name, address, and (local) phone number. This information is used in the Google search algorithms to properly classify your content.
Develop Location Pages
If your company has multiple locations, it can be advantageous to develop individualized pages for each one of them. Each location page should include the NAP information we talked about above, including the specific address and phone number for the location in question.
Ideally, each of these pages should be fairly unique; you can include some of the same basic information and ideas, but try not to simply copy and paste the content verbatim. A little creative paraphrasing will help you avoid duplicate content penalties from Google.
Link-Build on a Local Level
Some experts say that all SEO is local. Perhaps the same could be said of link-building. It’s definitely impactful to accrue backlinks from other reputable websites, but it’s especially helpful if those sites are based in your local community.
- Your local Chamber of Commerce website
- A directory of local businesses
- Online “phone books” for your community
- Local blogs or media publications
Often, all you have to do to receive a citation in these directories is to ask, and perhaps pay a nominal fee. It’s worth the effort to find out!
Ultimately, Google wants to reward local companies that have proven themselves to be valuable and helpful to area consumers. One way Google makes that determination is by looking to Google reviews. Basically, the more reviews you have and the more positive they are, the more it will help your SEO visibility.
A simple way to accumulate reviews: Develop the habit of asking each customer or client to leave you some feedback. Make sure you provide them with a link where they can do so! You might also make a special effort to email your best, most faithful customers and ask them candidly for their help.
Ensure Mobile Friendliness
Local search and mobile search are two sides of the same coin. Simply put, the customers who search for local businesses tend to do so from their mobile devices. As such, ensuring a website that’s fully mobile-optimized is an important way to show up in local searches.
These days, most websites are made with mobile-readiness in mind. With that said, we still see a lot of sites that are slow to load, or that include design elements that don’t translate well to devices (think Flash animations, etc.) Take some time to see how your site truly performs on a full range of mobile browsers and devices. Run some speed tests, too, and be wary if your site takes more than two or three seconds to fully load. If it does, that could be a deal-breaker for local search engine users.
Create a Google My Business Account
This final tip is the simplest, but arguably the most important one of all: Take a few minutes to create a Google My Business account, which is vital for success in the Google search algorithms. It’s free and it doesn’t take too long, though we do recommend fully optimizing your profile with the right keywords.
These are all small steps you can take toward a more robust local search presence—and if you’d like to learn more about putting together a holistic SEO approach, we’d love to have that conversation. At enCOMPASS, part of our job is showing our clients what does and doesn’t work with regard to local visibility. Contact us today and let’s start a dialogue.
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