In the first four parts of our Small Business SEO series I explained what SEO is , why it’s important to your business, how Google ranks content, how to build an SEO strategy and how to measure your progress. Today I’m going to talk about local SEO and why it’s important to your business.
We already covered how to build an SEO strategy, but today we’re going to take things to the next level and talk about local SEO – what is it and why it’s important to your website. If you are running a national e-commerce website, your clients are everywhere – and you may not even have a brick and mortar store to promote.
But if you operate a local business, Google allows you to actively target potential clients in your area. In fact, research shows that over 90% of consumers have used a search engine to find a local business – and 46% of such searches have “local intent”. With these kinds of numbers, it’s critical that you intentionally and consistently target potential local customer with your SEO Strategy. We need to make sure that we address both physical location, such as cities or suburbs, and more general search queries such as “Heating and Cooling company near me”.
At this point you may be thinking “great, now I have to start all over”, but the good news is that search engines use similar algorithms for their global and local rankings. There are however, a few things you can do to help the search engine in the very specific task of determining which local results are the right ones for your website.
The first place we should address is the “local pack” or “3 pack” which is a block of three business listings that appears below the map in results displayed for searches that Google believes have a local intent. These listings are different than regular organic results and you’ll see that they have address and phone numbers, reviews, opening times, and even photos. Everything that you see in this local pack comes from the Google My Business profile for each business – which makes it an integral part of local SEO marketing.
It is absolutely critical that your GMB profile is set up correctly and that it includes things like the services you offer, accurate contact information, business description, category and opening times.
In addition to that, there are other elements such as GMB attributes, Q&A and Reviews, which are mostly generated by customers – but that is a subject for another article. Google My Business is a good place to start, but it’s only one example of what’s known as a ‘citation’.
Citations are places where your business’ NAPW (Name, Address, Phone number and Website URL) information appears online. Why are citations important? If your potential customers can’t find you in places where they look for businesses like yours, they are likely to choose a competitor they can find.
There are two types of citations, structured and unstructured. Structured citations are usually found in business listings that are created from forms, where there are designated fields being completed – for example on a website like YELP.
An example of an unstructured citation would be a mention and link to your business from a local website referencing your work or services in an article. This may actually contain all of your NAPW info, but not in a structured format. With such a large percentage of people searching online for local business, it’s easy to see why it’s important that your business has these citations and that they are regularly updated.
Ok, so I convinced you that local SEO is important, but what do you need to do? Just like global SEO, the landscape and tactics for local SEO change with each iteration of the search engine algorithms, but here is a list of actionable local SEO tactics you can implement:
The first is website localization, which essentially involves incorporating your city or region into the content on your website. You can also create content which is specifically designed to target local areas.
We talked about citations, so it’s no surprise that one of your action items is going to be to create citations for your website on business directories, review sites and social media platforms. This feature your company’s name, address, phone number and website URL (NAPW) and will help customers find your business. You should also add a proper description of your business and services to help improve these citations.
The next item on the list is claiming your Google My Business listing. This is an important step in helping your business appear on local search results and maps. Make sure that you do this on both Google and Bing which has its own version called Places for Business.
The next element has to do with both local SEO and reputation management. 86% of participants in a recent survey revealed that they read online reviews for businesses, and 85% of participants said that reviews influence their decision to actually use a local business. This is why it’s critical that you have a strategy designed specifically to getting genuine REAL reviews in places like Google My Business and review websites.
In part 3 of this series, how to build an seo strategy, we mentioned the importance of backlinks. When it comes to local SEO, our goal is to get as many local sources like newspapers, bloggers, business associations, etc. to link back to our website to help improve its overall visibility and authority.
Alright, so this concludes part 5 of our Small Business Website SEO series, in part 6 we’ll review everything we covered and discuss where you should start. I really hope I was able to give you a good overview of what local SEO is and why it is important to your small business.
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