There are a couple of things we know to be true about the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the business world. One, we know that small and local businesses have really felt the strain, with many being forced to shut their doors for good. And two, we know that the stress on small businesses has led to a big push for people to shop local and support their hometown vendors.
One of the best ways for small businesses to capitalize on this push is by ensuring they have excellent traction in local search queries. And while there is no “blueprint” or step-by-step guide that guarantees local SEO dominance, there are certainly some tips and best practices that can make your business more discoverable by local shoppers.
10 Best Practices to Boost Local SEO
1) Complete a Google My Business page.
Google My Business is a free service, and for anyone looking to boost local SEO visibility, it’s an absolute necessity. If you don’t already have an account, create one, and complete as much of the profile information as you can. This will tell Google, and potential search engine users, about your services, your location, your hours of operation, and more. Google My Business is a significant factor in local search visibility; there’s no good reason not to have a fully optimized profile.
2) Optimize for voice assistants.
A lot of local searches, especially searches with consumer intent, are conducted with the use of voice search. (Examples: “Siri, where’s the closest dry cleaner?” “Alexa, where can I get a good slice of pizza?”) Your website content should be written to reflect this, which may be as simple as tweaking some of your keywords to fit a question-and-answer format.
3) Seek reviews.
Online reviews are critical for establishing the trustworthiness of your business. As such, they can be determinative not only to consumer preference, but also to local search visibility. Try to accumulate reviews across different platforms, but especially on Google. Some ways to do this: Include “review us” links on your website or email signature. Or, directly solicit reviews from satisfied customers and clients, perhaps by sending a follow-up email a few days after a purchase. There are also excellent third-party platforms that can streamline this process and help you achieve your review goals.
4) Be sure your website is mobile-ready.
We won’t belabor this point, except to say that a majority of local searches are now made on mobile devices… making it crucial to have a site that is easily accessible from smartphones and tablets, and that loads quickly.
5) Step up your social media game.
While your business doesn’t necessarily need to be active on every single social platform, it’s generally smart to have a robust presence on key platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Remember that your social media accounts will often show up in local search results, and can provide potential customers with an easy way to learn more about your goods and services.
6) Generate backlinks.
When reputable websites or publications link back to your website, it sends a message to Google that you’re offering something of value. This, in turn, can boost your search rankings. There’s no magic formula for getting backlinks, but a good place to start is by simply ensuring that you’re producing content that’s relevant, useful, and high-quality. Outreach to local bloggers or newspapers may also be something to consider.
7) Be featured in local directories.
Getting backlinks can be challenging, but getting citations in local directories may be more doable. Look for local business listings, “yellow pages,” or industry-specific directories where you can request a citation. Be sure that you offer your NAP (name, address, and phone number) consistently across different directories. Also note that the enCOMPASS team can offer assistance in getting your business featured across a wide number of relevant directories.
8) Create product and service pages.
The structure of your website can play a crucial role in local search rankings. Specifically, it can be useful to provide the search algorithms with an independent page for each product and each service that a customer might search for.
9) Develop localized content.
Still another valuable way to boost local search rankings is to develop content that discusses local events or happenings. For example, does your business participate in any nearby charitable work or non-profit organizations? Do you host local events? Create press releases, company blog posts and social media content discussing your involvement, particularly when there is a specific event you can highlight.
10) Get a local SEO audit.
A final suggestion for boosting local search visibility is to hire an SEO consultant who can carefully assess your website for any local ranking opportunities that you might be overlooking. A thorough SEO audit can often provide plenty of action steps you can take to improve your visibility.
We’d love to tell you more about this or any of the other suggestions we’ve made. To chat with our SEO experts about boosting local visibility, contact enCOMPASS at your next opportunity.
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