During a recent web design meeting, our client succinctly summed up the importance of local SEO and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in general with the phrase “…instead of in ‘God we Trust’, it’s more like in Google we trust now.” Now no one is saying Google is the new God but there is something to be said for wanting to appease the search engine giant and get on its good side. When search results are produced after we’ve plugged in a query – we trust that the results provided are credible and legit.
For businesses who want to rank higher up in search results, SEO is key to working your way up the organic search result pages. Particularly focusing on Local SEO is beneficial for small and mid-sized businesses who want to attract new leads and clients via the web.
By targeting customers using local SEO, you are attracting clientele that is more likely to convert into paying customers because they’re close by. If someone is within a few blocks of your business when they perform a search and your location fails to show up in results, well there’s a huge opportunity that’s been missed and is often a result of poor local SEO.
So, let’s get down to business and help you up your local SEO game asap:
Optimize Your Website for Local Search
Local SEO is all about targeting potential clients within proximity of your business in real-time. That means, if I’m walking down the street and need to grab some quick flowers when I type in “florist near me” – YOUR floral shop should appear. You want your business to rank in search results such that when a potential customer is within the vicinity of your business, you show up in results. In order to optimize your website for local search results you want to:
- Ensure your business NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) information is correct and consistent across all places where it appears on the web. Lack of consistency confuses Google as they don’t know which information is correct and thus, which to list…which brings us to…
- Create and complete your Google MyBusiness page and verify your website. This process allows you to get listed on Google Maps and requires a verification process where Google sends a postcard to your physical business address with a verification code you must enter to secure your online business profile.
- Include a Google Map to your contact page so users can easily find you and further optimize your local SEO efforts. Again, getting listed on Google Maps begins with verifying your business on MyBusiness with Google.
- Ensure phone numbers are clickable via mobile so users can easily call if they have questions regarding your location, services or products on the go.
Optimize Your Website’s Content for Local Search
Links and content are incredibly important ranking factors for Google and the same holds true for local SEO. By creating high quality content with a local focus, your efforts are targeted at those customers who are interested in your offerings and are more likely to walk through your doors because you’re close by. You want to optimize title tags and meta descriptions with localized keywords, for ex. instead of using a broad term like ‘website design’, use ‘Calgary web design’ instead. This way, the content you produce ranks in local search results and lets your users know you operate near by.
Citations are complete or partial references to your name, address, phone number and website online. They can be added manually via social media network sites or they can happen automatically with websites that consolidate info across the web like listing or directory websites. The advantage of creating manual citations is you have complete control over the information that is listed so if you rebrand or move, you can easily manage these and edit details accordingly. Citations across the web give your website link juice and with more links across the web, Google sees this as a good sign.
The advantage of creating manual citations is you have complete control over the information that is listed so if you rebrand or move, you can easily manage these and edit details accordingly. Citations across the web give your website link juice and with more links across the web, Google sees this as a good sign.
Claim your Social Media Profiles
Create social media accounts for your business using all the major platforms and secure your brand’s space in the social world. While managing and remaining active on all accounts may be tedious – by securing your profiles, you at least know your brand is protected and that when users search these networks – your results show up correctly. While we think you should maintain a posting schedule, we also realize this takes work. You can task someone at your organization to keep things up to date or you can simply exist on the social media sites as is.
Localize your social networks and link them back to your site. (Again, these are citations). Remember when we mentioned earlier about links– these platforms provide just that. Verify your social listings where applicable and when you post awesome new content – share this on your social media accounts.
Add Photos to Your Google My Business Profile
People like to see where they’re going, who they’re going to work with, what products are available, etc. Adding photos to your Google My Business profile helps potential customers develop an understanding of your business in a visual way that makes them feel secure. It’s as if they already know something about you prior to actually doing business with you. Almost like déjà vu – there’s a memory recall that happens because they have seen images of your business, products or services before. The thing is, you want the images you do post to be accurate representations of your products, store front or people. Represent yourself accurately – so that when clients do business with you in the flesh – they don’t feel conned by the images you put forth.
Get Customer Reviews
Have a customer review acquisition strategy in place. That means actively encouraging and asking your happy customers to leave reviews with details about their smooth transaction, your awesome customer service or their love of the product you’ve provided. Whether you’re directing customers to give you reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc. – customer reviews not only help to boost local SEO efforts but they also help to establish trust and credibility.
Potential clients see good customer reviews as social proof of your greatness, given that the content is being provided by real people. Don’t pay for fake reviews, don’t buy likes. Be authentic and real in your offering and you’ll be rewarded accordingly by fans who want to preach on your behalf.