If you have a physical business, you probably understand the challenges you have to face in being found online. Honestly, I think Local SEO is no longer tied to the traditional mom-and-pop stores. Any business can reap its benefits.
So, whether you have a pancakes store in Vancouver, a local bagel shop in Chicago or a national Pizza Hut Chain, the only way to get more customers to visit your store is Local SEO.
Google local search results have been evolving since the launch of the Hummingbird Update. They are more relevant, geo-focussed and personalized. It is not that easy to get your business to the top of SERPs anymore.
Before we go onto the strategies for effective Local SEO, let’s get a primer on what exactly is Local SEO and why you need it.
What is Local SEO?
Being a local business, you definitely got the advice to optimize for local SEO at some point.
Local SEO is different than traditional SEO. It can also be considered an extension of SEO.
To put it simply, Local SEO is about being found everywhere your customer might look for you.
It is a marketing practice of optimization your business for local search results. These results focus primarily on showing businesses which are near the user.
For example, if any user in San Diego wants to find a salon, they might want to know about businesses that offer these services in their locality. For such queries, Google displays results of businesses in that specific niche in the particular location.
What type of business would need local SEO? Well, every business that has a physical location and gets most of its clients locally.
Why do you need Local SEO?
Simply, because this targeted niche strategy is one of the easiest ways to reach your potential customers.
Here are some statistics:
- 80% of customers use search engines to find local businesses
- 1 in 2 customers visits the store within a day of performing a local query.
- 18% of local queries performed on smartphones result in offline purchases.
I hope these numbers are more than enough to convince you of the importance of local SEO.
Local SEO techniques to rank your physical businesses
Get on Google My Business
This should be the starting point of your Local SEO campaign. Google My Business is a free service by Google that helps in making local businesses visible and searchable on the web space.
If you don’t already have a listing, it’s high time you create one and claim it.
Here is what you need to do:
- Locate your My Business Page: Search for your business listing and record its URL. If you find duplicate pages (listings) of your business, delete them immediately as they harm your rankings.
- Verification: If there is no verified stamp (a check sign) beside your business name, the first thing you should do is claim your business. You generally get this verification code via phone call on the registered phone number of your business or through a postal card.
- Fill in the accurate business information on your profile: Be consistent with the details you are filling. Enter the exact Business name, address, phone number, email, categories website, URL to landing page, hours of operation, modes of payment and so on.
- Give a small introduction to your Business: Talk about your business – what it does, how it can help customers etc. Try to keep it short (150-300 words), catchy, informative, readable and unique.
- Post pictures and videos: Make sure your cover photo and display picture are high-resolution images. Include photos of your staff, some of your special products, your office etc. You can also add a virtual tour of your business.
Build Citations across important directories
Citations, apart from the basic NAP, also include other important details of your business like business categories, hours of operation, modes of payment, email, website, etc. This information is viewed by your targeted users on the search results, therefore, you would want to ensure its consistency and accuracy.
Getting listed on important directories and review sites helps in expanding the visibility of your business across the web. There are a million directories out there but that does not mean that you have to spam all of them.
To begin with, target the top national and generic directories like Yahoo local, Bing Places, Yelp, Yellowpages, Merchant Circle, Angie’s list, etc.
After getting listed here, find industry specific directories for your business (like Tripadvisor for hotels etc). You can easily find them by running a quick query of “city + keywords”.
It would be too much of a task if you were to manually search for every place where you should get listed. I would instead recommend you to use automated tools. These tools pull out important web properties where you should have your business details mentioned. After analyzing your niche and competitors Local RankWatch handpicks certain websites where you should be present. Thus, saving you a lot of effort and time.
Be Consistent with your NAP
NAP, short for Business name, address and phone number is the basic identity of your business. Make sure these details are exactly the same as listed in your Google My Business Profile.
The higher the number of consistent citations, the better are your rankings.
Reviews form 10% of the local search ranking factors. They are not only important for customers but also help search engines determine the relevance and authority of the business.
According to a survey, the buying decisions of 90% of customers are influenced by positive reviews while 86% customers abandon their buying decisions due to a negative review.
Therefore, in order to ensure maximum conversions, you should have great reviews along with better rankings.
Google reviews are important and so is getting reviewed on other major platforms like Yelp, Facebook, Yahoo local etc.
How to acquire reviews?
- Provide informational handouts to customers: Give detailed step-by-step instructions on how to review your business. This will be very helpful for non-tech savvy customers.
- Send out Emails: Follow up with your customers on email and ask them about their experience. Also, don’t forget to include simple instructions.
- Hand posters and notices in your store: Put signs and flyers in and around your store. If possible, paste the review URL on the walls of your store.
Work on getting Local Links
Links are important for Local SEO as well! Local links have a lot of potential to drive targeted traffic but unfortunately, marketers do not take advantage of it.
Local link building is not about getting links from authoritative sources, but more about acquiring them from relevant local websites in your niche.
To begin with, start getting listed in your local directories.
Here are a few other ideas for local link building:
- Go to Meetup.com, find a few local events (in your niche), reach out to those websites and offer them sponsorship. This way you will get 2 highly authoritative local links – one from the website and the other from its Meetup.com page.
- Create locally relevant resources like a local guide, to-do things in the city, pet-friendly places in the city, local event calendar etc.
- Interview any expert in your niche, get in touch with the media to get it published.
- Give Scholarships to local universities.
- Go for Local partnerships and sponsorships
- Host local awards, competitions, contests and giveaways.
- Offer discounts to local organizations as incentives for mentioning your citations on their websites.
Over to you now!
Which review acquisition strategies work for you? What are your thoughts on local link building?
Let us know in the comments below!