When operating a small business that depends on both foot and website traffic to generate sales, it is important to consider local search engine optimization (SEO).
Today nearly 46% of all Google searches are local. Businesses in almost all industries are investing in local SEO strategies to take advantage of the growing trend.
In this guide, our goal is to share with you everything there is to know about local SEO, how it can benefit your business, and why employing the services of a local SEO company can improve your traffic and sales.
Local SEO is the process of increasing a local business’s online visibility on search engines. It promotes the business’s products and services to local consumers at the exact time they are actively searching for them online. The business can be the brick-and-mortar type in a physical location or a service business that operates within a certain geographical area.
Local SEO uses an array of tactics and techniques to improve a local business’s ranking on local search results. Local search results are produced when a consumer includes a local keyword in their search phrase. It also occurs when the search engine picks up their location from the device they are using. A good example of a local search phrase is “web designer, Florida.”
A local search is a search query with a purchase intent behind it. These search queries typically include the phrase “near me” or a location. This helps search engines understand that the consumer wants a list of businesses near them. Based on the location in their search query, businesses in a specific location will be provided in the local search engine results pages (SERPs).
Local SERPs are the results that show up after a local search is launched. Local SERPs usually include a short, optimized list of 3 businesses at the top of the first results page. This is also known as the local 3-pack. The local pack is displayed after a Google search with local intent. When attempting to improve your online visibility or traffic to your website, it’s crucial that you improve your visibility on the local 3-pack.
The 3-pack is a lot different from the standard organic results. It contains additional information such as review ratings, business hours, website link and even photos. While Google can now pull this data directly from a business’s website, this is not where the information comes from. All the details displayed in the local pack come from the data displayed in the business’s Google My Business (GMB) profile.
GMB is a business’s profile on Google that compliments its existing website by giving it a public identity and presence on Google. It is the listing that appears whenever a user searches for the company name, information, location or any other relevant local keywords on Google. This listing is becoming more important as Google strives to satisfy local user search queries directly in the SERPs.
Today GMB is a critical part of local SEO, as the information a business provides can appear on Google Search and Google Maps. Google holds approximately 74.54% of all search engine market share, making it the leading search engine worldwide. With this in mind, it is essential for businesses to claim and optimize their free GMB listing.
To get the most out of this free listing, businesses are advised to include as many details about their business as they can. At the very least, a business should include its name, address and phone number, also referred to as NAP details. The other information that GMB allows you to add to your listing includes:
A big part of local SEO is ensuring that your GMB profile is as up to date and accurate. This helps improve your business’s chances of appearing in the local pack. It also improves credibility, which warrants a higher click-through rate.
Once you create a GMB listing for your business, Google Maps automatically generates a location and synchronizes the data with traditional Google Search for easy searchability and access. GMB is one of the most powerful citations, but there are many others that can be helpful to your local SEO strategy.
A citation is any location where your business name, address, phone number, and website URL appear together online. Citations are usually in a business listing’s website or an online directory. These locations are particularly important for businesses looking to improve their local SEO. There are two types of citations:
Structured citations: These citations appear in business listings and come from fields that have been filled when claiming a listing.
Unstructured citations: These citations are usually the result of social media and press where your NAP data is visible and connected to your website.
Getting citations for your local business is a task that should be taken seriously. If your business does not appear in the places people look for businesses like yours, it is likely to be overtaken by competitors that do. In addition to getting the foundational aspect right by building citations in the most relevant sites, you must also regularly update and clean them to stay relevant on local SERPs.
Now you understand what local SEO is and its importance to your business. The next step is to figure out how you will achieve success in it. Here are the top 7 ways you can help your business rank well in local search:
The first thing you should do to optimize your site for local search is to create a GMB account. This establishes your presence on Google and allows your business to show up on Google Maps. It also lets your business appear in search results on all devices. To optimize your GMB:
Only 44% of businesses have claimed their GMB listing. Take this opportunity to get ahead before your competitors catch on and the playing field gets more competitive.
Reviews are undoubtedly the most influential online factor for any local business. It is estimated that 92% of all online consumers read online reviews, with 68% admitting that positive reviews influence their trust in a business.
According to a survey by BrightLocal, online consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. Therefore, positive reviews can go a long way toward increasing your site traffic, foot traffic, and click-through rates. They also help rank your GMB.
Genuine reviews are critical for showcasing the value of your products or services. They also help send strong, authoritative signals to Google and other search engines that portray your business as a trusted and useful resource for consumers. The number, authority, and quality of these reviews are all significant factors for ranking on local searches.
As a local business, it is imperative that you have a strategy for encouraging your customers to leave a review on various platforms. To get your customers to leave reviews:
The first and most important thing to consider when trying to obtain positive online reviews is your star rating. You do not want to be at the top of the search results and make a bad first impression. Therefore, you should work on receiving 5-star ratings from your customers.
Also, note that your reviews are not just confined to Google. Search engine algorithms include listing and directory sites in their search rankings. Therefore, you will need to compile customer reviews from these sites as well. Other than getting reviews on popular sites like Facebook and Yelp, take advantage of other niche sites.
These may include the likes of TripAdvisor, Houzz, Cars.com, HealthGrades, Rover, and Avvo, among other niche sites. Other than the great exposure you will get to your target audience, these sites also contain links that go back to your website. Such backlinks not only improve your authority online but also drive quality traffic to your website, which all work to help you achieve your local SEO goals.
When looking to rank on local search, ensure your website features on online business directories and citation sites. Featuring your business on these sites helps improve traffic to your website and brick-and-mortar business. You can claim your GMB and Bing Places for Business and hundreds of other online business directory listings for free. If you need additional incentive, online directories have a higher conversion rate compared to other traditional advertising options, by up to 50% on some directories.
Also, be sure to check different online directories to confirm your company information is correct and current. Google checks your company’s website and independent directories like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and BBB to find company information. Make sure to check your website and these directories to ensure the information provided about your business is correct. Incorrect or inconsistent information can drive prospects away.
Standard SEO requires you to optimize your H1 and title tags. However, local SEO calls for a slightly different approach as customers are looking for businesses in a certain geographical region. Therefore, your title tags, meta descriptions, and body content throughout your website should contain geo-specific terms such as the name of a neighborhood or city.
If your business has several locations, create a different page for each location. These pages allow you to provide consumers with your NAP, service descriptions, store hours, promotions, parking information and testimonials from happy clients. Just make sure not to duplicate content across multiple pages.
Ideally, create location-specific content for each separate region and incorporate keywords that are specific to that region.
A strong social media presence affects Google Search and acts as a substitute for websites. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are great locations where you can share your GMB posts to drive more traffic.
NAP is a common acronym that stands for name, address, and phone number. These pieces of data are the most important business details in local search. For search engines and consumers to trust the data you provide online about your business, always ensure that your NAP information stays consistent. Your NAP should be consistent on your site and all other third-party sites.
Usually, when the Google search engine encounters NAP variants, it becomes suspicious of your data, resulting in a lower local search ranking. Also, an inconsistent NAP can misdirect your clients, causing you to lose them. Therefore, take the time to audit all the sites your business is mentioned and listed on so that you can correct any differences in the data.
Here are a few additional activities that will help you achieve success in local SEO:
Participate in community events – Get involved in various community events and create articles with information surrounding what’s going on in that area.
Get quality and relevant backlinks – Naturally obtaining backlinks from leading industry sites helps search engines identify your site as a trustworthy source of information. This, in turn, helps boost your prominence on local search algorithms. Links from local bloggers, business associations, newspapers and citations all work to improve your visibility on search engine results pages.
Optimize your site for voice searches – Voice search is slowly growing in popularity among online consumers. Voice search currently accounts for 10% of total searches. Therefore, you need to optimize your site for how people ask questions when they launch a voice search. Since most consumers use long-tail keywords in voice searches, you will also need to adjust your content to fit a more conversational tone.
Create localized content – The best way to grab a local customer’s attention is to create content that speaks or relates to a local issue.
Optimize for mobile – If you have not yet optimized your business’s website for mobile, now is the time. Currently, mobile usage accounts for about 71% of all online time in the US. This means that a local business, no matter how small, should accommodate mobile users to stay relevant.
50% of people who conduct mobile searches for a local business will visit the store within one day.
The good news is that local SEO services can do all of the above for you so that you don’t have to do everything yourself.
Successful local SEO involves a lot of work. Since it is always changing, it can take up a lot of your time, effort and resources to get it right and keep up to date with the latest changes. It is for these reasons that most local businesses opt to employ the services of a local SEO company.
Most SEO agencies specializing in building robust local SEO strategies, seeing as it has a higher demand than standard SEO. The rules of local SEO are also very different since you are aiming at a different objective.
Local SEO is one of the most effective ways to promote your business online. It is designed to assist businesses with efficiently marketing their products or services to their local customers. Therefore, as a business owner, it is crucial that you embrace local search and increase your website’s visibility to local consumers in order to find more business in your local area.
Wobu Web is a local SEO agency that helps local businesses realize their positions in local searches. Then we help them improve their positions on search engines in order to increase their overall ROI. If you would like to take advantage of all the benefits available to your business through local SEO, let us know. We think the following are 6 specific reasons you should use our services:
At Wobu Web, we start your local SEO strategy with smart research. Our team begins by reviewing the relevant keywords for search frequency and competitiveness. This is done by tracking hundreds of relevant keywords across various search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. We then provide you with a detailed analysis of organic, map and mobile rankings.
We compare your rankings against those of your competitors and then create reports that show ranking trends for various locations. This extensive research allows you to better understand your ranking on local SERPs. It also allows us to come up with the best local search strategies that will allow us to get the best possible results. We analyze these results to give you the best local SEO advice possible.
Online reputation is increasingly being referenced by consumers and is quickly becoming a make-or-break metric for consumers looking for local businesses online. We monitor and manage your business’s online presence by tracking and scrutinizing your reviews across multiple platforms like Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, BBB, TripAdvisor, and Foursquare, among others. We also help guide clients to leave positive reviews on the platforms that matter most to your business and reply directly to them.
One of Google’s key ranking factors for local search is business listings. According to Moz, citations are the fourth most important factor for local ranking success.
We work with you to build citations from well-established and authoritative portals like Yellow Pages, Facebook, and Yelp. This helps give your business more online visibility so that it will be found by the right people interested in your specific product or service in their local area at the right time when they are actively searching.
Our citation-building team can drive your data to thousands of niche business directories, mapping services and mobile apps globally, ensuring your NAP consistency, which leads to higher visibility in local searches.
Links are the second most important factor for local businesses seeking local pack ranking, just behind GMB. They are also a sustainable way to drive relevant traffic to your site, which translates to more leads, and ultimately more conversions.
At Wobu Web, we strive to create a link-building strategy that is focused around your business industry and service area. We attempt to create evergreen resources, which improve your chances of receiving links back to your site from other local businesses.
These links, whether they are from your local newspaper or an industry-specific site, will boost your relevance while also placing you as an authority in the industry. This helps ensure that consumers find your business over your competitor’s.
GMB signals are the most important ranking factor for the local pack. The proximity of your address to the searcher plays a major role in local pack ranking. According to Google, businesses that optimize their GMB listing are twice as likely to be considered reputable by consumers. This is because when you claim your listing, you are able to provide your consumers with a host of information about your business, such as business category, web address, phone number, operating hours and a direction map.
Google clearly states that using GMB and maintaining it in an up-to-date and accurate state automatically improves your local search ranking.
We work hard to ensure your business enjoys a better ranking with a combination of high-quality content, optimized titles and tags, and internal and external linking among other sites. By timely promoting and positioning your website, we make sure it receives more targeted traffic. In turn, it will deliver more targeted traffic to your business, which will result in more conversions.
Local search is essential for any business, especially those that contain a brick-and-mortar location. Implementing these tips will ensure your business stays on top of local searches. It also improves the likelihood of prospects choosing to purchase from your company. So if you don’t have the time or inclination to make these changes on your own, do not hesitate to contact Wobu Web for professional and effective local SEO services.
At Wobu Web, we service New Orleans and other local businesses to help them achieve the digital marketing success they’ve always dreamed of. If your local business could benefit from an improved online presence feel free to reach out to us!