It’s a topic that gets small and medium businesses serving a localized area excited: Someone round the corner, or even on the other side of the city, can type in a search query, and boom! Their business appears in search engine results together with all the details needed to get in touch or visit their offices or stores, and they’ve got a new customer. Sounds sweet? It certainly beats old-fashioned advertising for getting your business’s name out there. The downside? Your competitors’ names will also show up, and unless you’ve been attending to local search engine optimization (SEO), your ranking may not be among the first few your prospective client sees.
We take a look at the things you need to attend to in order to get that attention-winning ranking and why getting a pro to do the job for you is the best solution. Eager to DIY it? There’s nothing to stop you from trying.
When it comes to local SEO, the first thing to remember is that everybody’s doing it. And if they’re doing it better than you, you aren’t going to get the ranking you want despite all your hard work. However, if you don’t have a lot of competitors in your area, just attending to the basics could do the trick for you.
Bear in mind that good local SEO means work – a lot of it – and you already have a business to keep you occupied. Will you have time? Unless you’re an expert, learning the ins and outs of local SEO is going to take as much, if not more, time than doing the actual SEO. It might be better to pay a small fee to get it done by someone who makes local SEO their business so that you can get on with yours.
Still think it’s worth a try? Want to know what it entails so that you can make a decision? Let’s jump right in with a few local SEO basics!
Get started by ensuring that your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP) are right up there on your website’s landing page for all to see. Go through the processes of registering for Google My Business and see if you have a Google Maps listing. You’re off to a good start. Now you need to feed the beast.
Listings on directory sites like Yelp are a huge help, so get in on all the big ones as well as any local business directories – it’s going to help with boosting your rankings. Now, if you know your SEO, you’ll also know that Google itself says that directory listings are not as influential in SEO as they used to be. But what they can do is to drive traffic, and traffic does have an important influence. If your site seems popular, it’s likely to attain a higher ranking, and you’re shooting for the top 3 in local search.
It’s time to boost your digital presence even further. Social media platforms will do the job if you play your cards right – but remember that you will need to be active on them, promoting your business, your website and engaging with your audience. To be accurate, social media doesn’t directly boost SEO. But when people keep sharing your stuff, or folks visit your website because of something they saw on social media, you can bet it does boost your local reputation in search.
Content is king, and your website content is super-important for good rankings. It should always have relevance to what you do, and keyword research will help you to identify the search terms people are using to find a business like yours. Use location-based words to highlight your local preference and identify a primary keyword that will be used to optimize your site for better rankings. Keep it coming. Fresh activity matters, and if you can produce useful information that websites with an authoritative web presence pick up on and link to, you’re doing great.
Blogs are a great way to add fresh content that shows your website is alive and well, and offering information. They’ll also get you valuable traffic if you play your cards right and produce content people actually want to read. This begs the question, “How often should you blog?” There are a lot of opinions on this, but here’s mine: Posting too often is going to affect the quality of your blog, and not necessarily in a good way. It’s also going to lose you followers if they feel like they’re getting spammed with alerts. One to four times a week is good enough. Go with it.
Have you ever checked out a business’s reviews on a Google listing? Lots of people do, so ask your customers if they’ll be willing to review your business on Google. Do keep an eye out – if an unhappy customer posts a review, your reaction (or lack of reaction) might influence prospective clients either to decide in favor of using your business or to go elsewhere. Nobody is going to please all the people all the time, but the point is to show that you care and are ready to make amends or at least apologize.
The next step is to take time to see what’s working for you and what isn’t. Your website analytics will be a big help. How did people find your website? Are they finding you at all? Are your strategies working or do you need to adjust them? It’s definitely not a case of “set and forget.” It’s also worth remembering that we’ve just touched on a few rather basic points of local SEO, so if you’re like most of us and have to deal with competition, you have to keep working at it, developing focused strategies based on data, testing them and fine-tuning them.
Still up for it? It’s going to be quite a learning curve, but props to you – and lots of feet through the door – if you get it right.