The right search engine optimization (SEO) strategy can help you to reach your ideal audience through local search results on Google, Yelp, Bing, and more. General SEO strategies perform well generally, but if your focus is a local one, you’ll want to follow the advice of local SEO tips like the ones I will cover here.
If you run a small local business with a brick-and-mortar store, or all of your customers are concentrated in a particular area, you might not think this facet of digital marketing is important for you. But using certain SEO tools and tactics could actually increase your footfall dramatically.
Local SEO strategy can help you to catch the attention of people living close by who haven’t come across your business before.
Here, I’m going to outline my top local SEO tips, which will help to ensure that you pop up in the search results when someone nearby is searching for a business like yours.
Claim and optimize your Google My Business listings
If you don’t already have a Google My Business listing, it’s time to get one.
You probably interact with these listings all of the time — they typically show up on the right-hand side of the Google search results, and give you all of the essential details about a particular business you might be interested in shopping with. It’s important that you claim yours, so you can keep the likes of your address, opening hours, and website URL up to date.
Not only is an up-to-date Business Profile a very convenient tool for helping local customers to find your company, but you can also acquire and respond to consumer reviews here. This can be very powerful, as people will often look for reliable reviews when they’re deciding whether to visit a local business they’ve never encountered before.
To claim your GMB listing, follow these simple steps:
- Create a Google Business Account: This will usually involve creating a Gmail for business (not personal) use.
- Check whether your organization already has a Google My Business listing: The easiest way to check for this is to search your business name on Google Maps and, if it pops up with the address auto-filled, your business has a profile.
- Click “Own this business?” or “Claim this business” on your Business Profile. Log in with your Google Business Account, and follow the steps to obtain control of your GMB listing.
Once you have control of your GMB account, ensure that all of the information on your Business Profile is accurate, and take care of any outstanding customer service issues in the form of review responses.
Google also recently introduced new features that allow you to update your business information if it’s changed due to Covid-19. For example, you can now set various business hours and highlight the safety precautions you’re taking. You can learn more in detail from this guide to updating your Google My Business listing for a Covid-19 reopening, which has all of the tips you’ll need to make the most of these new additions.
Add location pages to your website
If you have several physical stores, it’s a good idea to create a location page for each on your website. But remember that since we are focusing on local SEO tips here, these need to include more than just an address and a contact phone number.
Here are some other details you should add:
- An embedded map
- Where to find parking, if needed
- Interior and exterior photos of your store
- An optimized title and description
- Local news or other relevant information
- Strong calls-to-action that let your customers know what to do next
It’s important that your location pages aren’t just carbon copies of each other with a few basic tweaks. Customize them with specific descriptions, explanations of differences in products or services, and other details that better reflect the unique character of each location.
Let’s take a tour of a few local business websites that have great location pages you can take inspiration from.
First up is Bay Property Management Group, a real estate company which has a range of bases, including one in Arlington, VA.
This business page includes a short blurb about the organization and outlines the areas it serves from its Arlington office. It also provides a map with this location’s address and contact information.
As you scroll down the webpage, you’re introduced to customer testimonials, a thorough list of services, and you learn more about the team who work at this location.
Finally, they include a gallery of high-quality images of properties that are available in the area, answer FAQs, and provide a contact form so people can easily get in touch.
Let’s also take a look at the location pages of Busboys and Poets, a restaurant and bookstore chain that has locations aroung the Washing, D.C. metropolitan area.
On their location page for the Hyattsville, MD location, for example, an image of the storefront, its address, and opening hours are provided.
The page also includes a short description of what sets the location appart, and some of the local spots it’s convenient to. On-page SEO is further aided by a link to the Gateway Arts District it’s a part of, which offers a convenient way for potential customers to get directions and learn about upcoming events.
Make sure your NAP is consistent
NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. It’s incredibly important that you ensure these are consistent on every online platform you use.
To perfect your NAP etiquette, make sure to take into account the following steps:
- When listing your business name, always use the official name given for tax purposes.
- For the address, write out all of the words, including common abbreviations like “street” or “road”.
- When including your phone number, use dashes for proper spacing.
Using the same NAP information every single time makes it much easier for search engines and people to feel confident that they have the right information for your business.
Browse the web for mentions of your brand and ensure your name, address, and phone number are always written in the same way. If you spot any instances where they aren’t, edit your details or get in touch with the site in question so they can do it for you.
Create local content
Another way to ensure both people and search engine algorithms know exactly where you’re based is by creating content with a local focus.
Talking about your connections with the surrounding area demonstrates that you are an active member of the community and that you have a lot of local knowledge. This is sure to appeal to those tempted to shop with you, and help you increase your local search rankings.
For instance, if you run a hotel like Le Centre Sheraton in Montreal, consider what kinds of content tourists visiting your area would be interested in.
Le Centre Sheraton has a local area page, which highlights local attractions people might be interested in visiting when they’re in Montreal.
If someone is planning a trip to the area, they might come across this resource while they’re doing their research. Then, when the time comes to book their accommodation, this hotel will be at the forefront of their mind. This is one of the main reasons location-specific content can work so well.
Hotels aren’t the only businesses that can benefit from demonstrating local knowledge. The Maine Audobon, a branch of the national conservatory and birding organization, includes lots of resources for local nature enthusiasts.
Their Naturalist HQ links helpful blog posts, guides for birding in Maine, trails to explore, websites to help identify local birds, and other organizations that connect people with their local wildlife.
One organization can rarely do it all, so sharing other local resources can help you cultivate a wealth of additional content.
Target local keywords
Any collection of local SEO tips would not be complete with keyword strategy.
Hand-in-hand with local content come local keywords. These are essentially the terms that searchers type into Google or another search engine in order to find the business they need.
In order to rank on the first page of local search engine results, you want to perform thorough keyword research, and pick search terms related to your organization. Then, create high-quality, informative content that improves on the resources already available.
Here are some examples of businesses successfully targeting local keywords to rank for their desired search queries.
The lawyers at Hasbrook & Hasbrook serve the people of Oklahoma City in personal injury and bankruptcy cases. They rank on the first page of Google searches for Oklahoma-related keywords with a collective monthly search volume of 9,130 (SEMrush).
As you can see in the above page title, they prioritize Oklahoma, OK, and Oklahoma City in headings, as well as the content throughout their site. Their blog focuses on topics of relevance to the citizens they serve and, within their team bios, they include mentions of the University of Oklahoma, where each of their lawyers received their Juris Doctorate.
Similarly, Guardian Home Care, an elderly care service, caters their website directly to their home city of Toronto, Canada.
As evident from this small segment of their homepage, location is such an important part of their strategy that it even makes it into the full name of their business. Their local SEO is also helped by customer testimonials and a thorough FAQ section, which includes advice specific to their surrounding community. These factors will all enable the company to climb the local listings.
Finally, Ironclad Coffee Roasters makes the first page of results for “Richmond, VA coffee”.
Their website clearly states their Richmond location right on the homepage and goes into detail about the surroundings on their “Our Town” page. The website also allows local businesses to rent out their location, and lists any events coming up at the cafe.
If your website has a lot of good content, but it doesn’t rank as well as you want it to, consider re-optimizing your existing pages. Updated articles often get a small SEO boost, and informative content can easily be tailored to perform at a more competitive standard.
Encourage your customers to leave Google Reviews
Online reviews are a huge part of customer feedback marketing practices. Without even getting into the SEO reasons, reviews are helpful to marketers in that they let you directly react to what your customers are saying.
Positive reviews can help attract new customers to your business, while negative reviews give you the opportunity to mend a customer relationship, and improve your products or services in response to their concerns.
For these reasons, Google highly values authentic (not anonymous) reviews.
When interacting with customers, ask them to leave a short Google review to help your business grow and improve. Many people will be inclined to oblige after a positive transaction but, without the reminder, they may not know where best to leave feedback.
Other great places to include links for leaving reviews are in emailed receipts, shipping confirmations, and on your website.
While you’re at it, get in the habit of responding to as many reviews as possible — you can now do that with your Google My Business account — to improve your SEO, but also to demonstrate your organization’s winning customer service practices.
Build links on local sites
Any collection of local SEO tips wouldn’t be complete without cover link building strategies.
Link building is an evergreen SEO basic. The more websites that link to your website, the more trust Google will have in it, and the more visitors the search engine will send your way.
Plus, if you’re able to build a lot of links on the websites of businesses based in your area, customers and search engines will find it easier to work out where you’re based.
There are a lot of ways you can build more links to your website. You could write guest posts for the blogs of nearby businesses, ask to be included in local directories, or collaborate with a fellow business owner on a project so they have a legitimate reason to write about and link to your company.
Securing coverage on local sites can require a more targeted strategy. So, if you would like some help with getting started, make sure you check out this guide to local link building tactics you can use.
Local SEO tips summary
SEO is as much an art as it is a science. For businesses that operate locally from brick-and-mortar locations, this means finding a happy medium between ranking for important search terms following these local SEO tips and interacting with the local community.
If you run a locally-operated small business, and this is the first time you’re hearing of local SEO, that’s okay. Start by implementing our suggestions, and improve as you learn more.
Take control of your online presence by claiming your Google My Business listing, keeping your NAP consistent, and ensuring you create high-quality, impactful content for the businesses and consumers in your neighborhood.
For other ways to get the word out about your small business, consider starting a blog, or updating your current one with these SEO tips for blog posts, too.
This guest post was written by Adam Steele. Adam is the Founder and COO at Loganix, an SEO fulfillment partner for agencies and marketers. We build easy-to-use SEO services that help businesses scale. If you liked this article, please check out our SEO guides and templates on the blog.
Hero photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash