The internet reaches across the entire planet and this means you can buy products from other countries, communicate with people and businesses overseas and even work in a completely different country to the one in which you are employed.
Sometimes, a business may not need or want to target consumers so far away. It may be that the local area and surrounding towns are far more important. Consider the following: Estate agents, pizza delivery companies and lawyers – these businesses will look at the local market, not global. While a law firm may conduct business internationally, a regular lawyer probably gets most of their business locally.
This is why certain types of businesses need local SEO. But, what is local SEO and how do you start a campaign that improves yours for more business?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is where an analyst or expert performs an audit on your website and improves various areas to make it more visible on search engine results pages (SERPs).
This means improving the content, the loading times, any security issues and several other refinements and changes. It may mean altering many different areas of the website, or it might just be a few simple changes. They may also advise on a digital marketing campaign to help build visibility.
Local SEO is the same as above but it has an emphasis on targeting the immediate area. This means they will look at content that engages and interests the local market, working to get backlinks from local authorities and building brand awareness in your home city or state.
You can do this yourself if you have sufficient knowledge of SEO or hire an agency or expert with experience in SEO campaigns. The first thing to do is conduct an audit. You will want to check the visibility of your name, address and phone number (NAP) on search results and your website. Then, you need to start looking at other areas such as keywords, creating a Google My Business (GMB) account and content that generates backlinks.
Before analyzing your website, register for a GMB account with Google. After this, you will need to verify ownership of your business. Now, when you make changes to your GMB account, it will reflect on your Business Profile in Google searches. This will also help you show up on Google Maps more effectively.
There are many tools online, including Google’s Keyword Planner, that will let you see what keywords are relevant to various searches in a local area. Use this to see what keywords you should be using on your website and in your content. Keyword research is invaluable for seeing which words work and which don’t.
Once you know what keywords are working locally, you need to include them in the content. To make this work, they need to be included naturally. Keyword stuffing is where words are put into content specifically to push a site up the rankings but this can have detrimental effects. Write your content as if you were addressing a human, so the keywords are used where they naturally fit in.
Next, you need to look at titles and meta tags. Make sure page titles have the name of your city or town and state along with relevant keywords. This will make it easier for the site to be found by search engines. Instead of saving a page title as “Services,” title it “Law Services in Tampa Bay, Florida.”
URLs need to be optimized too. When you save web pages, give them appropriate and relevant names to make them more visible.
Content wants to be fresh, relevant and engaging. Creating high-quality content for your website is one of the most important areas of SEO. You know that you need to add keywords correctly to show up in organic search results but there are some other considerations. Content should ideally be long-form but at the same time grab a visitor’s interest and be relevant. You will want to include links to your previous blogs and also hope to earn backlinks to other local websites.
If your business targets several towns or areas, then make pages for each service and each region so they show up on searches in different regions. You can also help yourself by including local landmarks and references to your business, such as, “We are located three blocks from X landmark.” This will help when users make relevant searches.
You will also need to consider images, videos and also writing content for other websites.
Video is becoming increasingly important as a way to engage an audience, and websites using video grow revenue faster than those without. If you are running a real estate business, you can show videos of local properties to pique interests. Virtual walkthroughs are also essential in some areas due to COVID-19 and lockdowns.
Again, the use of images and videos must be relevant and they need to be optimized. Choose file names that can be picked up on searches and add tags and text to them. Make sure they are high-quality but also load quickly. For videos, consider adding a transcript including local information that can be picked up by Google searches.
By writing relevant articles for others, you will help to create backlinks to your website. You will also start to build trust with your local area by becoming more visible and writing with authority on areas you understand. This will create brand awareness and make you more visible on the internet in local searches.
If Google Maps doesn’t appear on your website, change this now. Add in an “About” and “Contact” page with local information such as your opening hours and telephone, name and address. Write some content that is aimed specifically at the local area – this could be promotions or sponsorship details.
Although you cannot force people to write reviews, you can request clients do so by including a link to “write a review” on your website, in messages and emails or on social media.
Yelp and Google reviews will show up in SERPs and can give you much more visibility. What’s more, a slew of good reviews will help drive business – most people read reviews online before they choose a company to use.
Make a page or an area on your website for testimonials, too. Local recommendations and word-of-mouth mean more to many people than a good sales pitch.
Do not ignore Facebook pages or other social media in your local SEO campaign. Facebook pages can show up in Google searches, and they are an invaluable way to interact with your local audience. You can answer queries swiftly and add short-form posts with promotions and advertising. You can also put links to sales-landing pages or your blog to drive traffic, and write about local events that your business is involved in.
There are many tips for improving local SEO, and these are just a few of them. Dedicated pages for services and the local area, writing for others, earning backlinks and creating relevant content can all help.
By putting all the above strategies in place, you will have the basis of a local SEO campaign and, although it will take time, the long-term rewards will be worth it. Do not be tempted to cut corners or stuff keywords into your site. Playing the long game with SEO is better than any quick fixes.