If you have a brick-and-mortar storefront, local SEO should be a top priority in your marketing plan. Local SEO ensures your business shows up when customers are conducting local searches for your type of business in their area. You should use this SEO strategy when you are targeting people from specific geographic locations to visit your website. In turn, this will result in customers from those areas coming to or contacting your store. If you have more than one storefront location, you will want to optimize your website for all of those areas.
We are now going to share with you how to do exactly that!
Create and Optimize Your Google My Business Account
The first step in any local SEO campaign should be to create/claim and optimize your
Google My Business (GMB) account. Google My Business has quickly become one of the most important factors in local search because it helps to ensure that the information provided about your business meets Google’s needs. GMB verification is quick and easy and shows Google that your business is trustworthy to promote in local searches.
In addition to setting up your GMB account, you’ll want to encourage your customers to leave Google reviews. This will also help prove your trustworthiness to Google and increase your ranking. We spoke with Jane Kovalkova over at Chanty, who had a lot to say about the importance of utilizing GMB and reviews for local SEO. “One of the best ways to do local SEO is to set up a Google My Business page and encourage people to leave reviews for your business on Google and Facebook. Ratings are a strong ranking factor for local businesses and in most cases, your customers won’t remember to leave a review on their own, so you have to nudge them into it. A combination of a GMB page and great reviews will push your local business to the top of local search rankings pretty fast.“
There are many steps you will need to take to ensure you’re fully optimized for Google
My Business. To start out, make sure you have the following information filled out in your account so Google can relay the information to local customers.
- List your hours of operation
- Add a detailed and unique company description
- Add photos
- Add a phone number and other contact information
- Encourage and respond to customer reviews
- Update your category information
Take Advantage of Social Media
Social media is essential to all businesses, local or not. Social media has a long reach and can really ramp up any company’s customer base when utilized correctly. For this to help your SEO, you’ll want to link your social accounts on your Google My Business account. This will give you the ability to share posts and allow Google to consider your social accounts.
Social media channels such as Facebook are another great place to encourage customer reviews. As we know, Google weighs reviews heavily when ranking a website, and why wouldn’t it? What better way to gauge trustworthiness than to get feedback from an actual paying customer? Melanie Diehl of Melanie and Co. Marketing Collective further broke this down for us. “For example, you may offer a superior service than your competitor but they’ve mastered review requests and are outranking you on the local map pack.“ This is because, unless someone is telling Google that your pizza is the best in town, no one will never know.
Prioritize Internal Linking
Many business websites focus their attention on their external linking strategies while neglecting their internal linking structure. This is a huge mistake that we see businesses making all the time. Despite the fact that external links to your site build authority for you, internal linking structures also greatly impact your rankings.
Having a solid internal linking structure establishes a hierarchy within your website. That hierarchy helps users to navigate your website more easily. A logical site hierarchy naturally distributes ranking power amongst multiple pages. You can use your internal linking to increase your site’s page views and session duration, which can also factor into your rankings.
Implement an Inbound Link Strategy
Link building is a strategy that could very well have the most impact on your local SEO strategy. You want to obtain natural links from relevant sites that point back to your website. This shows Google that your site is trustworthy and helps to increase your domain authority. There are a number of ways that you can get websites to link back to your own to grow the number of inbound links to your site.
But you need to be careful.
One bad link from a spammy site can actually be held against you and negatively impact your ranking. That being said, you must ensure your links are coming from high-authority, quality websites.
One link-building method that we have found to be beneficial is to answer industry-related HARO queries. HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out. It is an online platform where you can provide your expertise to various news outlets, blogs, etc. Those using your quote will ideally provide a link back to your website in exchange. This is an organic way to obtain backlinks and share your knowledge with a larger audience.
Another great way to get local links is to sponsor local community events (or events that aren’t local but industry related). Those sponsorships can generate media coverage and land you with multiple local links from other businesses, local news outlets, and more.
Neal Taparia with Solitaired told us that sponsorships and/or news coverage is one of the easiest and most organic ways to get local links. “To do this, do something newsworthy in your community. For example, coordinate a donation for medical equipment for your local hospital, and get the local newspaper to cover it. Additionally, link to other high-authority local sites. This shows Google that you’re connected to the local ecosystem and is a strong ranking signal for you.”
Guest posting can be another great way to get links back to your website. Use your knowledge to inform the local community through blog posts. This can be something you do on a local, national, or even international level, as long as you are adding value to another website. Write informative articles that people want to read, and it will be easy to get them posted on other websites.
Optimize Your Pages and Blog Posts
You want to ensure that your title tags, headers, metadata, and content are properly optimized for the keywords for which you want to rank. Not only that, but if you are trying to attack the local market, you will want to optimize for location by adding city names. Dan Gower with Buddy Gardner weighed in on the importance of optimizing page content for local keywords when it comes to ranking. “My biggest tip for local SEO is to make sure you’re naturally incorporating location references into your landing pages and blog posts. This will show that you’re connected to your community while also helping you rank higher for keywords related to your geographic location.”
Optimizing your site for keywords helps when it comes to ranking, but don’t forget about optimizing content, as well. Optimized content hugely impacts users’ first impression of your website and business. Customers that navigate to your website want to be able to find what they are looking for quickly and easily. Optimizing these sections of your website will make it easier to click around and paint a clear picture of what your content is about.
Utilize Location Pages
If your business has multiple storefront locations, it can be helpful to create a location page for each. This location page should tell customers more information about that specific location, such as the address, phone number, hours, or any other information they may find helpful. This is another opportunity to optimize your site in a way that Google favors, by adding a Google Map to your location page. Mark Hemming with Libra Translation stressed to us the importance of embedding maps into your website. “My number one effective tip is to embed your Google Maps location in any page that you’re looking to rank for local terms, as this will give you a big boost (providing your business is physically present in the area you’re targeting, of course!). Putting your business address in your site footer can also help on this point.”
If you only have one store location, you can still optimize for other areas to show up on city-specific searches. For example, if your brick-and-mortar location is in one town but people travel from all surrounding towns to visit your business, you can still optimize for those areas. We suggest creating a section of your website for “other areas we serve.” This will allow you to target those nearby areas and show up in more location-based and “near me” searches despite not having a physical location in those places. Kent Lewis with Anvil Media agreed that location pages can have a huge impact on local SEO. “If you have multiple locations, show Google you’re committed to each location with dedicated content, beyond name, address and phone number. Include directions, services, amenities and localized content. This is essential for retailer chains, hotels, and restaurants.”
LOCAL Content Is King
Writing broader or more general content can attract more readers to your blog posts.
However, if you are trying to attract local clientele, you should focus more on local content. Try promoting local events in your area or spotlighting local employees or even other local businesses that don’t directly compete with you.
Google has become so advanced that you no longer have to focus all your efforts on writing content for the search engine itself. Instead, you can focus more on writing content that your audience is looking to read. For a local business, relevant content should be a good mix of blog posts on industry trends and niche articles with local content scattered in regularly. Peter James Manzano with Thrive Agency agrees, telling us to “Amplify local signals by creating local content. If you have a blog for your brand, think of your audience and what interests them in the local context. Knowing your community is very important, so write for local keywords.”
Create a Mobile-Friendly Website
We can’t talk about local search without talking about mobile search. Customers will often use their phone to look up businesses near them, reviews, directions, etc. If your website is not set up to be mobile friendly, you are less likely to show up in searches. This can be detrimental to your local SEO strategy, since more than 60% of Google searches are done via mobile device. As more and more users start using their cell phones for search queries, this will only become more important.
Artjoms Kuricins with Tilti told us: “In 2020, optimizing your website for mobile is a standard practice, but my experience shows that there are still websites that ignore it or pay it insufficient attention. Our data shows that more than 80% of local business searches are conducted via a mobile device. Google has also affirmed that being optimized for mobile is an important ranking factor. Given these two facts, mobile optimization–particularly in terms of speed and controlling which layout element is the most visible upon entering the website–is one of the first things to do for any local business.”
Consistent Contact Information
The last thing you want is inconsistent contact information online. Not only does this confuse potential customers, but it can lose you business if a user stumbles across outdated contact information and cannot get in touch with you. Make sure you are updating your contact information as it changes across all platforms such as Google, Bing, and all social platforms. This will limit confusion and eliminate any hoops customers need to jump through to talk to you.
You’ll want to embed your NAP–name, address, and phone number–into your website. This is something you can embed on your site as crawlable HTML. You can put this either in the header or footer in the site’s back end, and it will make it easier for search engines to access your contact information. Susan Thompson, digital marketing manager at Topp Casino Bonus, stressed to us the importance of having a NAP set up. “To make it easy for people and search engines to find you, these metrics should be consistent all over the web. If NAPs are not consistent, it will confuse your customers and you might lose them.”
Let’s Wrap This Up..
Local SEO should be a top priority for any local business’ marketing plan. Having a solid web presence will ensure that your company is putting their best foot forward online and will provide you with the best results. You may even want to implement a system for tracking conversions to make sure that your team is implementing these techniques correctly and your strategy is effective. You can do this by tracking in Google Analytics, implementing a phone tracking system such as Call Rail, tracking form fills, etc. If you follow this simple local SEO guide you’ll be outranking your competitors in no time!