When it comes to smaller businesses, local search is increasingly taking on a growing importance. For example, 88-percent of consumers who use a local search to find a business visit or contact that business within 24 hours. At the same time, 97-percent of searchers use a search engine to find a local business that meets their needs. And, finally, an eye-opening 46-percent of all Google searches involve looking for local information.
What these figures underline is the massive importance of robust, professional local SEO. There is a substantial local audience out there waiting for any business that takes the time to ensure they are appearing in front of motivated local consumers.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a rundown of the SEO actions you need to take to maximise your local reach. Try this 6-step checklist to grow your local presence and drive more foot traffic to your bricks and mortar location.
- Use Google My Business
If you’re endeavouring to improve your local SEO, using Google My Business is a must.
Essentially, Google My Business is a tool you can deploy to ensure your site conforms to Google’s local search ranking standards. When you register with Google My Business (which is free, by the way) the search engine giant will verify your details – location, what you sell, and so forth – and add your business to Google local search results. You may even see your business pop up in the sidebar of local search.
Google My Business is a way for you to control how your business appears on Search and Maps and provides additional avenues to connect with customers, from reviews to Posts. Google has made a number of investments in Google My Business lately so you can be sure that it will play a strong local in local pack placement for a while to come.
- Optimize Your Content for your Local Area
Content has a big role to play when it comes to local SEO, and with a defined approach you can ensure that the content you push out feeds into boosting your local search results.
The key is to take a holistic approach and optimize everything from meta descriptions to keywords to URLs and titles with an eye toward geographic search phrases and, ultimately, where you appear in local search rankings. Any time you create content, you should be using relevant keywords and location markers.
- Create Specific Location Pages
The whole idea of local SEO is to bring new customers to your store, and location pages embedded on your main website are a great way to achieve this goal, especially if you have a number of locations such as multiple shops or a chain of gyms or bars.
What you need to do is create a page that tells a visitor everything they might need to know about your physical location. This means including things like opening hours, a store description, promotions, local parking information and anything else you think customers need to know.
You should consider adding a Google Map to your location page and always include your name, address and zip or postal code.
- Build citations
Citations are simply any mention of your business name, address and phone number (known as its NAP) online. Citations are built all over the web and, you may have already created online business citations without realising it – such as by submitting your business to a directory or adding business information to your social media profile. Local citations tell search engines about your company and are particularly important for local SEO rankings. In fact, the SEO tool Moz ranks local citations as the fourth most important local ranking factor.
- Solicit reviews
Reputation management is incredibly important for online businesses and physical locations alike. Research shows that around 8 in 10 consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations so they can help you to make a sale. More than that though, they’re a local ranking factor and if you make a conscious effort to solicit reviews, reply to reviews and build a steady stream of positive reviews, you’ll be rewarded with a stronger local search position.
- Build Local Links
55-percent of online marketing experts say that local links are ‘very effective’ in improving SERPs rankings.
Relevant local links from other businesses or authoritative sources are crucial in improving SERP performance. The best performance comes from links that share geographic and topical keywords in common with your business. And gaining local links can also benefit your business with motivated leads that trust what you have to offer because they already know the referring site or business.