When you want to find a restaurant or a nearby car repair shop, what do you do? You search for it online! When you You may not know it, but you’re probably quite familiar with local search already. When you want to find a restaurant or a nearby car repair shop, what do you do? You search for it online! And you’re not the only one. As of 2022, 78% of consumers look up local business info online at least once a week. So if your business has a physical store or location, make sure those consumers can find you! To do that, local search engine optimization (SEO) is what you need.
What is local SEO?
There’s no official definition of local SEO, but the concept is simple. It’s the process of optimizing your site to achieve better rankings for searches focused on a specific location. When a user includes the name of a city in their search, or the search engine infers a location from the user’s device, they can get results based in that area. An example of a local search phrase would be “car dealership in Los Angeles, California”. To optimize for these local searches, you’ll need to utilize various techniques and tactics. Doing it successfully will improve your business’ position on local search rankings.
Why should my business care about local SEO?
If you have a business that serves a particular town or area, local SEO matters a lot. And it’s likely to become even more important in the future. Even if you’re already engaging in an organic SEO strategy, it’s worth the effort to get more local visibility. People nearby are your potential customers, so you really don’t want to miss the opportunity to get their attention.
On top of improving your overall online brand awareness, local search is a significant driver of leads, sales, and in-store traffic for local businesses. A better question might be “why wouldn’t your business care about local SEO?”. The only real argument against investing in local optimization is the effort and possible costs involved. But that’s not something you need to worry about — in fact, depending on the keywords and tactics you’re using, you may be implementing a local SEO plan already without realizing it!
Take advantage of these local SEO tactics
To utilize a local SEO strategy for your business, start with these steps.
Localized website content
One of the main local search engine optimization tactics is to create content on your website which shows your location. There are several ways to go about this. First, make sure your name, phone number, and address are easily found on your website. Most businesses include this information in the header and/or footer of a website, as well as on the Contact page.
Next, you can create website and blog content focused on local keywords. For instance, if you were a dentist and wanted to rank for the term “NYC Dentist,” you could work this phrase into your service page content. Adding locations into your keyword optimization is one of the most important parts of local SEO.
Be warned: keyword stuffing is not allowed! Many professionals who launch a local SEO strategy for the first time make the mistake of stuffing too many keywords into their pages, blog posts, and online listings. Search engines see this practice as spammy and tend to demote content and listings using this technique. Instead, work the keywords into your content naturally. Remember to add them to your page title, headings, meta description, and image alt tags, as well, for the best results.
Claim your Google Business Profile
Google holds a massive 92% of the search engine market share, making it the most popular search engine used worldwide. With this in mind, it is crucial that you claim and optimize your free Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business). This listing is what appears when a user searches for your company name, location, information, or relevant local keywords on Google. These listings also appear in Google Maps.
To make the most of this free map listing and Google account, include as many details about your business as possible. At minimum, users need to know your name, address, and phone number. This is referred to as your “NAP” information. Besides your contact information, Google Business Profile also allows you to include vital business details like your website, opening hours, reviews, and more.
To complete your Google Business Profile to the fullest, use this guide from Search Engine Journal.
Fill out listings and directories online
The internet is brimming with listing sites and business directories. These sites are online lists of businesses within a specific niche, location, or category. These websites display your address and other local business information for interested users, so they can definitely be beneficial for connecting with nearby customers.
Just as you did with your Google Business Profile listing, be sure to complete these listing and directory profiles as much as possible. Again, always include your name, address, and phone number. Some popular listing sites you might want to join include Bing Places, Yelp, Whitepages and Foursquare.
Capitalize on customer reviews
Did you know 49% of local consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations? With this in mind, it’s easy to see how online reviews factor into a successful local search engine optimization strategy.
As local SEO tactics work to increase your visibility on search engines and map listings, you want to put your best foot forward. You don’t want to be at the top of the search rankings and make a poor first impression, right? 75% of users report feeling positively about a business when they see reviews describing positive experiences, so it really helps to generate authentic customer positive reviews.
Bear in mind, your reviews are not confined to just Google. Some businesses focus on getting reviews on popular websites such as Yelp and Facebook. However, there may be other niche sites your business can take advantage of too. Consider asking customers to place reviews on industry-specific or targeted review websites. For instance, you could direct customers to TripAdvisor if your business is a hotel or a restaurant. Or if your business is related to weddings, try getting reviews on The Knot. Do some research and find out which review sites work best for your business.
In addition to greater exposure online, these review sites all contain links back to your website. These backlinks help drive traffic to your website and improve your authority online, which work to accomplish your local SEO goals.
Launch your local SEO strategy
Now that you understand why and how local SEO can help your business succeed, it’s time to plan and execute your strategy! Begin with our tips and continue to monitor your local search visibility.
Have you worked on a local SEO plan before? What tactics did you use? Share your experiences with the community in the comments below.