You know it’s important to optimize your website for search engines. When you need an answer, you pick up your phone and Google it. Your customers are no different, and that’s why it’s necessary to optimize not only for SEO but for local SEO.
According to Search Engine Land, Google made massive changes to its search rankings over the past five years to accommodate a mobile-first internet. HubSpot reports 82% of smartphone shoppers are conducting “near me” searches and 61% of mobile searchers are willing to contact businesses with a mobile-friendly site.
There’s no better time than now to optimize your website for local SEO and start pulling in more customers. Here are six steps to get started:
Search ranking is no longer the most important factor on search pages. That’s because Google’s Knowledge Graph changed the game. When you search for a movie like “The Lion King,” for example, you’re presented with showtimes at local theaters, trailer videos, reviews from audiences and critics, and more before you even see the top search result.
This doesn’t mean you can ignore tried-and-true SEO formatting for your website’s pages. In fact, it’s just the opposite. You need to optimize for both search rankings and Knowledge Graph to be successful. The last thing you want is your business being invisible to customers searching for the exact solutions you offer.
Check out this Yoast guide on structured data to learn how to optimize your page to accommodate for the new ways we search for information.
The easiest way for a business to get included in Google’s rich information is by registering your business with Google My Business (GMB). This puts your business on the map quite literally by listing it on Google Maps and including it in Google’s localized search results. It’s a key factor in potential customers finding you online.
Don’t stop there – once you’re in the dashboard, GMB has a ton of features that deliver major value to your business. List your website for free local link juice, offer more contact options, and respond to customer reviews. You can even let customers message you directly from your Maps listing. Everything you do here shows a business engaging with the local community and pushes you up the local search rankings.
While you’re in GMB, you can also add individual products you offer to your listing through the Products tab. You can list pictures and pricing that inevitably ends up on Google’s Shopping tab. Extra info really beefs up your listing by displaying keyword-rich product details with direct links to purchase on your page.
Or if you offer services instead, add a “menu” of services, just like a restaurant menu, in your GMB info. You can’t provide a link in the services menu, but it’s still helpful to connect your business to those keywords. The more friction you remove from the conversion funnel, the more sales you’ll get in return.
Another great place to start optimizing your webpage for local SEO is the FAQ page. This is where you can build a deep repository of information that’s useful to both search engines and the people using them. Be sure to check off all the important boxes of writing high-ranking content, including:
Using these long-form “blogs” to directly and fully answer common customer questions also gives you a better chance to be featured in Knowledge boxes. If you’re able to include names of cities, neighborhoods, and other local landmarks in a natural way, even better.
Now that you have the necessary tools ready, it’s time to check out your local competition. Everyone from local small businesses to national, international, and online brands can all be competing with you, so you need to know exactly what your customers are seeing at every step of their journey down the sales funnel.
Use tools such as Google Search Console, SEMRush, KWFinder and even Google Maps to see how you compare to the local competition. These tools will help you find which keywords the competition ranks for and give you clues as to how they’re outranking you.
Once you have Google under control, you’ll need to apply these same principles across other search engines such as Bing and DuckDuckGo. Don’t forget to also claim your business on platforms such as Yelp, Waze, TripAdvisor, Manta, Foursquare and anywhere else online. You can dispute fake reviews, repair relationships with bad reviewers, and answer questions people may have about your business.
It’s also a great idea to register with the Better Business Bureau and your local Chamber of Commerce. Any local organization for business owners typically offers a business directory with local link power you can use. Association with professional organizations gives you greater overall exposure to local markets offline too.
Local SEO is the best way to pull customers into your business through the internet. Taking the time to build out your web presence on these platforms can really pay off. You’re living in a mobile-first world, and mobile devices include contextual data, including geographic location.
That’s why search engines such as Google are pushing for mobile-first results. If you provide those results in the right places at the right time, you’re winning.