Many local businesses think they can simply put an announcement board by the front door, and customers will come rushing in and crowding the place. However, that’s far from reality. Businesses need to be online these days, as people are increasingly looking for local services on the internet.
In fact, 97% of people learn more about a local business on the internet than elsewhere. So before they decide where they’ll eat, they’ll probably do a Google search of the eateries in the area. But how do you help Google recommend you as the best option?
Here’s how to rank with the help of local SEO.
A Google My Business Account Is a Must
Google is the most popular search engine by far, and they have created a sort of business directory where you can list your business and get noticed. This is known as a Google My Business account, and you absolutely need to have it if you want to stand a chance against your local competitors.
It’s essential to provide all the information needed for a complete business profile. This way, you increase your chances of ranking high for all the right searches and make it easier for potential customers to find you. Make sure to verify your business so that customers are certain that’s your official profile.
Keep your profile updated and make sure you provide accurate information. You can also publish posts from your dashboard to announce any special events, promotions, changes, etc.
Use Relevant (Local) Keywords
Of course, you want to focus on industry-specific keywords in your content and copy, but if you want to boost your local SEO, you need to take it a step further. You should use location-specific keywords, and the best formula is [business/service/product] in [area], e.g., “SEO services in Lancaster.”
Most keyword research tools allow you to filter searches based on location. This way, you can see what industry-specific phrases people tend to use in your area. What’s more, you can optimize for voice search by using more long-tail keywords as people tend to use them when asking Alexa and other assistants for information.
Using generic, non-location-specific phrases will not get you far in local SEO as you’ll get lost in the competition.
The best way to improve your visibility and establish your brand as an authority in the field is to have high-quality content. Great content can get you high in the search results, but if you want to make it locally, use — you guessed it — location-specific content. What does that mean?
First, if your business operates in or caters to customers in more than one location, you want to have separate location pages for each of them. Google loves these, and they will help you get listed for every place you work in.
Moreover, you can write about local news, events, and stories that will interest the right crowd. You may also do an occasional customer shout-out, community reach-out, and anything that will establish you as a community-friendly business.
Get More Positive Reviews
Did you know that 84% of customers trust online reviews of businesses as much as personal recommendations? The latter are awesome, but reviews are the next best thing, and you can influence them with a bit of effort.
You’ve probably noticed this yourself — businesses without Google testimonials seem just as dubious as those with negative reviews. So to step up your social proof game, you can simply ask happy customers to leave a review and rate you online. If they’re satisfied with the service or product, they will enjoy giving you a shout-out online.
You should also try to convert any negative comments by responding to them as soon as possible and offering to make amends or fix a problem.
Optimize for Mobile
More than half of all online traffic now comes from mobile devices. This piece of info is especially important for local SEO. People usually search for local businesses on the go, and they don’t have the time to turn on their PCs and check your website on the desktop.
What’s more, if someone is passing through the area and doesn’t know where they can find, say, a good cafe, they’ll ask their Google Assistant on their smartphone.
That’s why your site needs to be mobile-friendly. The desktop and mobile user experiences differ significantly, simply because of the lack of space on a smaller screen. So the mobile version of your site should feature a large font, convey information in as few words as possible, support natural thumb movements, etc.
List Your Business Everywhere
Another great way to promote your local business is to get listed in as many relevant business directories as possible. For starters, you can use Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media to get your brand on the map.
Another option is to list your business on websites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, and similar. You can find the relevant listings depending on your industry and niche. Not only will this method help potential customers find you, but you’ll also get an SEO boost from all the backlinks leading to your website.
Just make sure to list all the relevant details, including your name, address, and contact info, and keep it updated.
Backlinks are a perfect SEO booster, but it’s important that they come from quality sites and are not forced. We’ve already mentioned a great way to get these link signals (online business directories).
Having unique, informative, and entertaining content is a great way to get other sites to refer to you. Write posts about the matters you are an expert on, and people will care about what you have to say. You can also guest post on various sites.
As a local business, you can always reach out to local influencers. By referring to your brand, they can send a lot of traffic your way in record time.
Boosting your local SEO and ranking high in the search results doesn’t have to be that difficult. It will just take a bit of effort, but you’ll garner a steady flow of organic traffic which will grow over time.
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