Posted on September 18, 2014
There are several online marketing options available today that your local businesses can utilize to improve your website traffic, leads, and sales. In the past there was print advertising, TV, and radio. Now, with so many different online-based options available it has left many small business owners confused.
Local search engine optimization is always going to produce results, and with more consumers armed with smartphones these days it has become extremely important that a local business has a strong local search presence. I have put together a 10 local SEO tips to help improve your website ranking in local search results.
1. Build Your Local Listing Pages
There is nothing tricky about this step. You will want to claim your local listings on Google+, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, and other popular business listing directories. After completing your profile you will have to verify you are indeed the owner of the business listing, and each one has a different verification method. Some will just verify your email address and some will send you a pin code in the mail that you will then have to enter in order to complete the verification.
Aside from the “big 3″ there are additional local listings that you should make sure to include, such as YP.com, Yelp, foursquare, and industry specific business directories. It is important that you fully complete each profile using accurate and consistent information across all of your local listings.
2. Get Started Blogging
Creating a blog on your website and updating it on a regular basis is a great way to increase your local search visibility. Your blog will allow you to create content that targets local keywords and search terms related to your business.
Blogging provides a great SEO benefit, but it also gives your website visitors information to read every time they visit your website. The longer you can keep them on your site, the better chance you have of converting them into a lead or sale. Make sure to share your blog content on your social media profiles, further expanding your reach. Blogging can really boost your local search reach, so make sure to include it in your marketing effort.
3. Make Sure Your Website is Optimized
Your on-page optimization is very important when it comes to being found in local search. Several businesses can rank on top if they just have solid on-page optimization, so it is very important that you take the time to properly optimize all of your on-page factors before you even begin to think about link building or citation building.
Rather than list all of the on-page factors here, you can read my company’s definitive on-page optimization guide. It includes detailed information on how to properly optimize your website, including an example that you can follow.
4. Ensure That Your Website is Mobile & Tablet Friendly
If your website is not responsive then you are already at a major disadvantage in terms of local search. With so many local searches being performed on mobile and tablet devices it is crucial that your website offers a pleasant experience to those that are visiting it from one of these devices.
When someone visits your website on a mobile device and they have a hard time navigating it what do you think they will do? They will simply leave and find a site that is optimized for their device.
The small investment required to transform your website into a responsive design is well worth it. Mobile traffic continues to increase and there is no sign of it slowing down.
5. Encourage Your Customers to Leave Reviews
Having positive reviews online build trust and credibility, something that future customers actively look for. It is important that you gather local business reviews the right way, and not offer incentives or force reviews. Rather than bribing customers, simply present them with a list of review websites and let them know that you would love to hear their feedback.
There is no need to over think this. You will find that most customers will be more than happy to provide their feedback if they are simply asked. You can create a page on your website that displays all of the review options or you can send out an email to your customers asking for feedback.
6. Keep NAP Information Consistent
When you are creating business listings it is important that you are maintaining consistency when it comes to your NAP (business name, address, and phone number). It should appear on all directory listings exactly as it appears on your website.
For example, if you spell out “Street” on your website then do not abbreviate it as “St” on any of your business citations. Maintaining this consistency will help you to improve your local SEO greatly. It is also a great idea to audit all of your business listings and fix any discrepancies. This is a great way to help clean up your NAP profile and ensure consistency across the board.
7. Pick Smart Social Media Platforms Based on Your Customers
Social media is a mandatory part of your local search marketing effort, but it is counter productive to attempt to be active on every social media platform. You want to identify the outlets that your target audience is active on.
For example, a craft store would want to be active on Pinterest, but a local accountant would not benefit by being active on that social media platform. Once you have identified the proper social media platforms to be active on you will need to create a publication schedule. You will want to share your blog posts on social media, but you will also want to engage with your audience a few times daily.
8. Use Visual Content
Consumers respond much better to visual content, so use videos, infographics, and images as much as possible in your website content. This helps your visitors stay on your website longer, increasing the chance of them turning into a lead or sale.
Compelling content that is packed with useful images or an infographic also helps your website attract inbound links from other websites that link to your content. High quality authority websites aren’t going to link to thin content that provides little to no value. Focus on improving the user experience and you will earn more links, helping your local SEO effort.
9. User Experience is Key
Fancy graphics, animation, and outrageous features are not going to help your website perform well in local search. You need to focus on user experience first, making sure that everyone who lands on your website can easily navigate and locate your content and calls-to-action. Top rankings and all of the traffic in the world won’t do your business any good if your visitors leave right away out of frustration.
A clean design and simple navigation is key. The goal of every website is to create an action. This could be a physical location visit, a phone call, a contact or form request being filled out, or a purchase being made directly on the website. Make it as simple as possible for your visitors to complete your desired actions.
10. Constantly Test & Optimize
The previous nine tips that we have just discussed need to be constantly addressed. To dominate your local market you need to always be one step ahead of the competition. There is always room for improvement, so don’t be afraid to test and make changes. You would be surprised at how the smallest change can often result in the biggest change.