There’s a myth around SEO that prevents many local businesses from reaching the level of success they deserve – the idea that local SEO doesn’t really matter, or that it’s not useful. The truth is, over 43% of the total number Google search queries are, in fact, local.
While it may seem at first glance that standard SEO practices are not suited to local businesses, the implementation of a few key strategies will allow businesses to take charge in their local area and connect to customers looking for their products and services.
Let’s look at five of these local SEO strategies:
Use 5 Strategies to Improve your Local SEO Ranking
1. Know how your business is classified by search engines.
Search engines classify businesses differently depending on their format. A business with a storefront or office that clients can access would be classified as a local business, while an online business that provides services nationwide would not.
Your first step is to claim your Google My Business (GMB) page and optimize it. Your GMB page should include all your pertinent information as well as a brief business description. Make sure that you include a physical address (not a PO Box) and a local phone number (not a 1-800 number). You will also need to pick relevant categories that apply to your business.
2. Consistency is key.
Ensure that the information about your business is the same across all directories and listings. Make sure your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) information is consistent in all profiles as well.
Discrepancies in the NAP may signal to Google that the business has changed owners or even gone out of business. Consistency, even in the tone and style of the business information is important for building your online image and brand recognition.
3. Research and choose keywords.
Keywords can be a very confusing aspect of local SEO for many business owners, and using them effectively takes a little time and some research into your clients. When choosing keywords, don’t try to be too specific.
Think about your customers: what words would they use to describe a solution to their problem? If someone living in Fresno, California had a leaking roof, it’s unlikely they would simply type “roofing,” “roofing companies” or even “roof repair” into their search engine. They’d be more likely to use something more specific to them, such as “roof repair Fresno” or something similar.
In many cases potential customers will not use industry-specific jargon when describing your services, so don’t focus too much on those. Once you have a good list of keywords, you can use them throughout your site and in social media. But be sure not to overstuff your content – Google will penalize sites for over-optimization.
4. Claim your online listings.
Once you begin listing your business online you may discover that other databases have picked up on the listing. This is a very good thing and goal that you should actively work toward. Start by listing your business in the largest local directories – Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, Yelp and Manta – followed by industry specific directories.
Creating a network of listings will help ensure you’re ranking highly in your area for keywords related to your business. Keep in mind that once you have relevant information in the large directories, other smaller, local directories will scrape that information and show it in their own database.
5. Keep your content fresh.
The tactics we’ve covered so far are a powerful start, but they are only a start. To maintain momentum, you must invest in high-quality, fresh content. This means posting to your blog regularly, sharing relevant information with potential customers and demonstrating your expertise in your field. This content should also contain local keywords, like the ones you researched already.
Aside from establishing your brand as a leader in your field, maintaining a fresh supply of content also signals to Google that your site is concentrated around a specific subject, meaning that it’s far more likely to rank your site higher for keywords related to that subject. Quality content will also attract links which can lead to high quality organic links, improving your local position even further.
Despite what the myths say, SEO is an incredibly powerful tool for local businesses when used correctly. The key is to start small and work your way up until you gain success in your local area. The insights and knowledge you gain here will be invaluable when it’s time for your business to grow beyond your local area and into the wider world.