Imagine this: a person sits down at their computer and types a query for a local service into Google.
The results pop up and, even though you offer the service the person is looking for, your company doesn’t appear. The person clicks on one of your competitor’s links, locates their phone number, and calls them up. What went wrong?
If you’re like so many other small businesses, you haven’t spent enough time optimizing for local SEO. While most local companies understand that showing up in Google’s search results is important, few understand exactly how to optimize for local SEO or just how critical it is.
When you do it right, good local SEO can drive thousands of dollars in leads, conversions, and sales to your company each month. Without it, though, your company is doomed to the dredges of Google’s search engine results pages. Here’s what you need to know about local SEO and how it affects small businesses everywhere.
Why is Local SEO Important?
According to Search Engine Land, 50% of people who make a local search visit the company’s store within 24 hours.
If they can find your company online, that is.
When a business features prominently in local search engine results pages (SERPs), it gets the lion’s share of Google’s 3.5 billion daily queries. This, my friends, is why it’s so critical to optimize for local SEO. Moz reports that results on the first page of Google’s SERPs earn a whopping 71% of organic traffic, so if your company’s site is buried back on the third or fourth page, it’s likely never to see the clicks it deserves. With that in mind, optimizing for local SEO is one of the most effective ways to capitalize on organic search traffic and reap the sales and conversions your company deserves.
5 Local SEO Tricks for Small Businesses
Local SEO is critical, but it can be tough to execute. Many small businesses simply aren’t sure where to start, or how, exactly, to optimize their sites for local SEO. Luckily, these five tips will help you get started on the right foot:
1. Add customer reviews to your site
88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends. With that in mind, add some authority and relevance to your site by including testimonials from previous customers.
If you use WordPress, this is easy to do with the “Testimonials” feature located in the left sidebar of your dashboard. If you use Wix or a similar platform, simply use the editor to scroll down to the “testimonials” section and add reviews there.
In addition to adding testimonials to your website, you should also be collecting customer reviews on sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and niche-specific platforms (if applicable), such as Urbanspoon. This helps ensure that customers are met with great reviews about your company, no matter where they find you online.
2. Start a blog
While many small businesses don’t associate blogging with local SEO, it’s an incredibly powerful tool for helping you rank well. According to HubSpot, companies that blog earn 67% more leads than companies that don’t. What’s more, marketers who make blogging a priority are 13x as likely to earn a positive ROI than their non-blogging competitors.
How’s that for incentive?
Blogging is an effective local SEO tool for many reasons: first of all, every blog you write and publish represents another page that Google can index. Over time, a healthy library of blogs builds up to lend a high level of authority and relevance to your site, which in turn allows it to appear more prominently in Google’s SERPs.
Secondly, blogging is a fantastic way to provide high-quality information for would-be customers. When you publish quality, original blog content, customers find it, share it, and link to it (companies that blog earn a whopping 97% more links to their websites). This helps boost your search rankings while also encouraging customers to continue coming back to your site.
If you’re like most small businesses who find it difficult to maintain a company blog thanks to concerns about time, you’ve got options. The main one is to hire a copywriter writer to manage the blog for you. Most professional copywriters (be they in-house or remote) will help you research keywords, develop an editorial plan, and populate your blog with content regularly. This, in turn, can take the burden of blogging off of your shoulders and ensure that your company gets to reap all of the benefits of great blogging, anyway.
3. Make good use of your social accounts
Social media is an important ranking metric, and using it right can go a long way toward improving your local SEO. Things like your social shares, social reputation, and social followers can help boost your visibility in local search results, so it’s important to treat your social channels like the local SEO tools that they are.
“How do I do this?” you wonder?
Easy, you just interact in an engaging way. If you’re a small business with a limited marketing budget, blowing it all on paid social ads isn’t a very good idea. You’ll see more rewarding outcomes if you just focus on building and maintaining a high-quality social presence. This means doing the following things:
Completing your profile
To earn high levels of follower engagement, your social profiles must be complete. This means a high-quality cover photo, a profile picture that displays your company brand, a complete “About” or “Bio” section that utilizes relevant keywords, links to your website and other social profiles, and contact information for your business. Complete profiles send the message that you’re involved, attentive, and active, so they’re well worth it.
Engaging with your audience
What good is social media if you don’t use it to get social? If you’re doing well on social, your customers will begin to interact with your brand by reaching out, posting comments, mentioning you, and sharing photos of themselves interacting with your products or goods. When this happens, engage it! Modern customers want to feel seen, heard, and valued by the brands they do business with, and maintaining a healthy back-and-forth dialogue with your clients is an excellent way to keep them coming back.
For an example of a company that does this well, consider Innocent Drinks. In addition to posting hilarious, engaging content (See the choke-on-your-coffee-worthy Equestrian Dressage tweet below), they also engage in frequent Twitter exchanges with their customers. This keeps them engaging, exciting, and relevant and increases the likelihood that customers will keep coming back to and sharing their social pages.
A stagnant social media account is about as much use as a flat tire. The more you post, the more pages you index, and the more engagement you’ll earn – it’s that simple. While there are varying opinions about exactly how often you should post to social media, Buffer recommends posting twice each day. While this may seem like a lot, it’s the best way to ensure you’re reaching your entire audience segment.
4. Include your company name, address, and phone number on every page of your site
According to HubSpot, phone number and address information is the single most sought-after material on local websites. With this in mind, be sure to include your complete name, address, and phone number (NAP) information on every page of your site. In addition to making it easier for your customers to locate the contact details they’re looking for, this also helps Google interpret you as a local company, and display you for relevant searches.
5. Claim your small business listings
One commonly overlooked local SEO tactic is to claim local business listings in third-party directories. If you don’t claim your listings on sites like Yelp and Google Places, someone else could, which can result in disastrous crossed lines for your business.
By claiming your listings, you communicate to search engines that you are the legal owner of that listing and that you’ll be responsible for maintaining its online presence. In addition to allowing you to keep things like NAP information current and consistent, claiming your listings also allows you to fill in missing information and help Google provide the most relevant, complete picture of your company possible.
Local SEO: A Critical Tool for Small Businesses
For small businesses, local SEO can make or break an online presence. When local SEO works well, it can drive thousands of monthly searches and conversion to an online business. Without it, though, it’s easy to get lost in the no-mans-land of Google’s advanced pages. Keep in mind that 18% of local searches lead to a sale, so local SEO isn’t something you can necessarily afford to overlook.
While optimizing your online presence for local SEO may seem challenging, these five simple tips can help you get off on the right foot. By optimizing your small business website for local SEO, you do yourself the favor of ensuring high traffic levels and ample conversion rates, both now and in the future.
Not sure where to start with local SEO? No problem! Contact Proline Creative today for a free local SEO analysis of your website!