You want to rank higher on Google for customers in your local area, right?
Well, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 10 tips that can be used to improve your local SEO. These are all simple and easy-to-follow strategies that you can start to implement right now.
We'll start with the first tip: Creating Your Business Page on Google My Business.
The first step of improving your local rankings is claiming and optimizing your Google My Business profile. Google My Business is Google's free and easy way to manage all of the information about your business and show that information on search results.
To claim and optimize a listing, go to google.com/business, select "Manage this location," then click on "Claim this page." You'll need access to the email address associated with your company’s website domain as well as other information related to your company.
Quick note, if you don't actually serve customers at your location, don't worry. You can tell Google My Business where your service area is, and not publish your address.
Once you've found your business and answered all of Google's questions about your business, it's time to request your verification card. Typically you'll be sent a card from Google My Business with a code on it. You will need to input the code on your business verification request form, which can be found at google.com/business/#verify-a-location.
Clear as mud? Don't worry! Google will walk you through each step as you set up and verify your account.
Once you've verified your listing, it's time to optimize. Google My Business has a number of features that will help you attract more customers and improve your rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Here are some tips for optimizing:
Once your information is in place don't forget to create some posts relating to your services and any sales or new products you may have. These posts are displayed below your GMB listing and profiles who post regularly seem to rank better than profiles that don't.
Tip: Don't go crazy making changes to your Google My Business profile until it's been verified. Making changes to your NAP (name, address, and phone number) or category will require a new verification number (unless your account has been verified) and invalidate the first number Google may have already sent. So if you need to make changes to your profile, wait for the verification number to arrive in the mail, verify your account, then make your changes.
Google represents 92% of all internet search queries. So it makes sense to use Google My Business as your primary review platform.
To start collecting reviews Google has a link you can send to your customers asking for feedback. You can also use Prairie Giraffe's review management platform to help manage your reviews and automatically send out requests to customers so they can leave their thoughts about you on Google My Business.
Automating the collection of reviews can be a huge time saver. Text automation and email automation are two powerful ways to reach out to satisfied customers and encourage them to leave a review.
You can enter the numbers and or email addresses of your customers and send them an easy-to-use link to your review page on Google My Business. I'm sure you've heard it dozens of times "Sure! I'll leave a review" only to never see the review ever happen. People are busy, and remembering to; go to google, look you up, find the place to leave a review, publish.
That's a lot to ask from someone who also just paid you for your service.
It's way easier to just; click the link, write the review, done.
Important Tip: When someone leaves a review remember to respond to it. Show appreciation and thank the customer for taking the time to leave feedback. If you've identified someone who's left negative reviews then reach out to them privately instead of responding publicly in a review or on social media since that could escalate things quickly.
Make sure your customers can contact you by email, phone number or other means like live chat on your website.
Positive reviews are a significant ranking factor for local SEO. So make collecting new reviews a part of your marketing strategy.
What about negative reviews?
If you have negative reviews you have a few options.
If a review is a useless rant. Or maybe it's full of profanity and hate speech you can typically get those taken down by reporting them to Google for review.
If that happens, reply to the review and see if there is a way to make it right. Sometimes you can turn a bad review into a good review just by offering to fix the problem.
This isn't always the case though. Whatever you do, don't get in the mud with someone who's just being rude. It's tempting to lash out when someone is being unreasonable, but the worst thing you can do is to get in an argument with a customer in front of the whole world.
People can recognize someone who's becoming unreasonable on a review and might actually side with the business.
When all else fails get more positive reviews.
If you can't get negative reviews taken down, try to get more positive reviews on the GMB.
It can be a lot of work, but it's worth the time investment if you're trying to clean up your Google Reviews page and will make sure that potential customers are reading mostly great things about you.
Voice search is becoming more and more popular and will continue to grow as people become more accustomed to AI and digital assistants like Siri and Alexa.
Optimize your website for voice search by using more long-tail keywords and answering who, what, why, how questions.
Being able to answer the question asked to Alexa "what doctor takes blue cross blue shield near me" will give you an edge over your competitors.
This might sound complicated, but searching a question relevant to your industry on Google and then going to the "People Also Asked" section will give you tons of content ideas and show you what people are already asking when looking for your services.
The main difference between SEO and Local SEO is that it's Local. So create content relevant to your geographic area and business.
Highly localized content is a signal to both search engines and your readers that you really are a business in their area. Referencing other businesses or landmarks in your area in the content also helps you to develop relationships with other local businesses. You're also sending signals to Google that you're located in the community you're speaking about.
Some local content ideas would be:
The options are endless because Local SEO isn't just about getting search engines to place you higher on results, it's about showing your next customer how you can help them and that you're a part of their community.
The trend towards using the internet on a mobile device has continued to grow. It's important that your website is responsive and can be viewed on a mobile device.
If you've been putting off updating your website for mobile the time is now. Google now looks at how your site performs on mobile-first and foremost. And now as of May 1st, 2021, Google is using Core Web Vitals as a ranking factor.
That's a lot of nerd speak for, your site needs to be fast, and work perfectly on phones, or you'll be penalized.
If you're not sure how to make your site responsive, or find out if it's even a problem for you, use Google Lighthouse. It'll tell you what needs work and where the problems are."
To recap: update your design so it looks good on all devices; test load time on both desktop and mobile screens; optimize images, videos, and text for smaller screens - including navigation options like maps.
For hard-core DIY'ers out there we recommend WordPress to build or update your new site with. There are literally thousands of themes and builders that work with WordPress out there that will be mobile responsive by default and will save you hundreds of hours trying to learn to code.
If however, you have better things to do with your life, like running your business, we'd be happy to discuss your options and if we're a good fit, send you a proposal.
Your keywords should be relevant to your local customers.
When you think about your business, what words do you use to describe it?
For example, a local bicycle store would have keywords like "bikes," "bike repair," and "where to buy bikes in X city."
A bike shop in New York City might focus on different keywords like "bike-share" and "bike-share near me" or the specific type of biking they offer.
Think about the phrases that people will be typing into their browsers when looking for your products or services. These are great starting points. Your competitors' websites should also provide some insight as well.
Adding signal keywords like "near me", "your town's name", "your product in your neighborhood", tells Google that your business is located in the area.
Using location pages is a great way to tell your audience and Google that your business is located in the area.
Location pages can also be used to provide information about your location and what you have to offer nearby.
Typically these are listed on a separate page from your main website with links back to those locations at the top or bottom of the page. They might include:
-A map so visitors can quickly find where their desired destination is rather than typing it into Google Maps themselves
-Hours/contact info for that location
-Photos of exterior signage along with photo galleries inside if applicable (like an art gallery)
The "about us" section of your site could be turned into another type of location-specific page by listing local businesses within the neighborhood as well as any other markers or points of interest your customers might be interested in.
If you don't serve customers at your location create service area pages. This might include a map of the surrounding area with distances along with contact information and hours specific to those regions.
Local citations are a critical part of Local SEO. Online directories like Yelp or Google My Business are great places to start when getting your business listed.
Some directories might require that you pay in order to be included. Before you pay for a listing make sure it's legitimate and relevant to your industry. Some directories may be a scam, and others will have nothing to do with your business and would end up being a waste of your time and money.
When in doubt don't pay for citation listings until you are sure they will help your business.
BrightLocal has a citation building service that can help you filter through all the potential listings and choose which ones are the best for your business.
For local citations not connected with online directories, try contacting businesses like restaurants and hotels within the area where your office resides to see if they would consider listing you as well.
Don't focus on national online listings only or "the big guys" (Google, Apple, Yelp, Better Business Bureau). Local directories like your chamber of commerce, event advertising and listing services in your town or neighborhood, non-profits, and other listing opportunities are very valuable and can help you stand out from larger national businesses.
You've probably heard about link building and how important it is to your search rankings. It's true that links carry a lot of weight, and you should spend time building out great content on your website in order to capture the attention of other websites (and individuals) who would like nothing more than to link back to you.
This is true for Local SEO as well. However, you have a unique opportunity being local. Reach out to local companies, organizations, and individuals who would benefit from your content and ask if they would be willing to link back to your website.
Being local, you probably have an advantage over much larger competitors because you're actually part of the community. Small businesses tend to be willing to help other small businesses, especially when the relationship is mutually beneficial.
For instance, it makes sense for a body shop that doesn't fix glass, to link/refer to a local glass company, and vice versa.
Another example would be a cleaning company linking to a plumber. Plumbers tend not to clean up the mess, and cleaners probably can't fix the pipe that caused the mess.
You see this happening every day across all industries. Now take that everyday practice of referring your customers to other companies you trust, and make it digital, by asking for a link back to your site.
You can also find these opportunities by contacting your chamber of commerce or looking up local directory listings for companies that are most likely going to be interested in what you can offer them (listing opportunities).
The moral of this story is don't overlook an easy source of high-quality links: Local businesses! Reach out to as many as possible with compelling offers on non-competitive keywords while building rapport and generating quality content relevant to their industry. These types of relationships take time but they will pay off over time.
An overlooked way of increasing your rankings on local search is to create a separate web page for each of your products and services.
Include local keywords in the content of those pages as well for an extra boost.
By focusing on a specific keyword and service for each page you ensure that Google knows exactly what that page is about. When you lump everything into one page your message becomes diluted.
There is a lot more that goes into a complete Local SEO strategy but these are the most effective ways to get started. By completing these tasks and implementing the strategies in this post you will start to see improvements in Google search engine rankings.
Remember SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Focusing on a few tasks each week to improve your SEO will lead to long-term success.
If you need help getting your business listing to rank higher on Google so you can start getting more local customers coming to your store contact us. We can have a conversation about your business goals and take a look at your situation and online presence.