Google pretty much runs the world — at least the digital one. Don’t believe us? Where do you go when you need information on a new restaurant, doctor, or auto mechanic? That’s right, Google. And you’re not alone. Studies show that 80% of people, use search engines to find local information, and roughly 92% of search engine users, worldwide, use Google.
As a marketing professional or business owner of a region-based organization, this fact means that your local SEO strategy is incredibly important.
We’ve shared information regarding SEO tactics and game plans before. If you haven’t read that blog post yet, it’s worth a look. But here’s the thing; many CleanPix users run localized businesses. Sure, they can still benefit from general SEO strategies, but they also need to understand how to best show up in region-based searches.
That’s what this blog post is about. After reading this article, you’ll understand how to rank your company’s website in local Google search listings and drive more traffic to your business. Whether you operate a local hotel, work on your city’s tourism board, or own your town’s swankiest new restaurant, a strong local SEO strategy will help you achieve success.
Here are our eight top tips to design a winning local SEO strategy for your business.
Local SEO Strategy Basics
Let’s start simply. These first three tips will cover important, entry-level information regarding local SEO strategy. In the next section, after we’ve covered the basics, we’ll jump into the more juicy tips and tactics.
Tip #1: Use Google My Business (GMB)
According to the almighty Google itself, Google My Business is “a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps.” If you only get one of the tips in this blog post right, make it this one.
Through this platform, you’ll be able to enter and manage important details about your business such as:
- Its name, address, phone number, and business category.
- The various physical locations where your organization can be found.
- Any photos depicting your business.
- All Google reviews about your company.
By optimizing and maintaining your company’s details on the GMB platform, you’ll be able to assure Google that your business is, in fact, legitimate and worthy of a high ranking in their search results. You’ll also be able to glean valuable insights on where your web traffic is coming from.
So our first tip is to use and maintain an updated Google My Business account.
Tip #2: Nail Your NAP
NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. In order for Google to feel comfortable ranking your business in their search results, these basic details need to be accurate and consistent throughout your business’ website, as well as other locations across the web. This includes sites like Yelp and Facebook.
Take time to analyze your company’s information across the internet. Even a minor discrepancy, a misentered suite number, for example, can really hurt your entire local SEO strategy.
Tip #3: Secure Local References
Earlier we mentioned that you can manage and respond to Google reviews of your business via the Google My Business tool. But Google reviews aren’t the only factor when it comes to where your company ranks in search results.
Customer reviews on authoritative websites such as Yelp, Foursquare, and TripAdvisor are also an important element and need to be given consideration in your local SEO strategy. Encourage your customers and clients to leave reviews on these sites. When they do, respond. Doing so will boost your chances of pleasing Google and securing a higher ranking.
Diving Deeper Into Your Local SEO Strategy
Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s dive deeper into how to craft a winning local SEO strategy.
Tip #4: Know Your Customers
No marketing effort can be successful, at least not over a significant period of time, without a solid understanding of the people your business is trying to reach and sell to. We’ve talked about crafting buyer personas before on this blog.
In a nutshell, you need to know exactly who your ideal customer is, what they like, what their age is, what keeps them awake at night, and a whole lot more. When you understand this information, you can optimize your website and content with the right keywords. Speaking of keywords…
Tip #5: Use the Right Keywords
Keywords are the terms and phrases that people type into search engines. For example, if you wanted to purchase a new pair of shoes for an upcoming wedding, you might type in something along the lines of, “black dress shoes.” Or you might get extremely specific and enter, “black leather dress shoes size 10” into the search bar. Each of these phrases is a keyword.
Your job as a marketer or business owner is to identify the right keywords for your company and use them on your website and in each of your content pieces. That way when someone searches for your offering, Google will recognize that your website has the answer to the query.
Make sure your specific keywords are included in the URL, title, header, meta description, and mentioned numerous times throughout the body copy. How do you know which keywords to use? It all comes back to knowing your customers and researching the terms they search for on a regular basis.
Just remember that you’re trying to implement a local SEO strategy. Which means that targeting location-specific keywords should be your aim. For instance, the keyword “shoe store in Austin, TX” would be a much better choice for a shoe store in Austin than just “shoe store”.
Tip #6: Make It Mobile
These days, if your website isn’t mobile friendly, it just doesn’t stand much of a chance of being found online. This is especially true for region-based businesses as 90% of smartphone users search for local businesses on their mobile devices.
Fortunately, many websites are optimized for the world of smartphones. If you’re uncertain of how your business site performs in this area, we recommend using Google’s free mobile-friendly test to find out.
Many of your customers will search for the services or products your business offers while they’re out and about. They may get hungry after running a few errands and search for restaurants near them. They may get a flat tire and need to make an unplanned stop at a hotel.
If your company’s website is mobile-friendly and can be easily browsed on a smartphone, Google will be more inclined to rank your site higher in its search results.
Tip #7: Realize That Google Loves Maps
Embedding a map on your website is a great local SEO strategy for two reasons:
- It gives customers a better idea of where your business is located. The easier you are to find, the more likely they’ll be to visit your establishment and have a positive experience. Positive customer experiences generally lead to repeat buyers and stellar reviews.
- A map gives Google more information about your business, increasing the likelihood that it will rank your organization well in its search results. Remember, Google needs to feel confident that your business is legitimate. Added details such as a map of your location help give it that confidence.
Tip #8: Amass Local Proof
Proof of what? Proof that your business is legitimately loved by the public. There are two main ways to prove this: customer reviews and quality backlinks.
We briefly mentioned customer reviews in a previous tip. We won’t rehash all the details again here, but remember to encourage your customers to leave reviews and respond to each and every one of them. Doing so provides Google with proof that your business is legitimate and worthy of a high ranking. It also proves to potential customers that your business is worth spending money on.
Now, let’s talk about backlinks. A backlink, also known as an inbound link, is any hyperlink on the internet that leads to a different website. Your goal is to get as many high-authority websites (websites that Google trusts) to link to your site as possible.
Google loves backlinks and they play a major role in where the search engine decides to rank websites. Google figures that if trustworthy sites are linking to a particular webpage, there must be a reason; that the webpage in question must have value. This really makes a lot of sense, so do your best to secure quality backlinks.
You can do this via a number of different tactics. Here are a few:
- Write a guest blog in return for a link back to your company’s website.
- Partner with other local businesses and agree to link to each other.
- Connect with local reporters and have them write a story about your company.
- Create amazing content that’s so awesome people can’t help but link to it.
- Once your amazing content has been created, reach out to other websites that might find it interesting and ask for a backlink.
Links and reviews aren’t always easy to acquire, but they play a large role in whether Google decides to rank your business well or not. Do what you can to win positive reviews and high-quality backlinks.
Bonus Tip: Get On the Voice Search Bandwagon
Ready for a bonus tip? Voice search is growing at a rapid pace and it isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon. Your business needs to jump on the bandwagon and take advantage. But how? The key is to write web pages and content for humans, not machines.
This means that your copy shouldn’t be so full of industry jargon or keywords that it’s difficult to read. Think about the way your customers actually talk when using Apple’s Siri on Amazon’s Echo. Then write your web pages and content pieces in this same conversational tone.
Design Your Local SEO Strategy
Your company’s local SEO strategy can mean the difference between success and failure. Fortunately, there’s a fairly straightforward process for succeeding in this endeavor as we just outlined in this blog post.
Remember to take the time to use the Google My Business tool and update it regularly. Then make sure you really understand your customers and know what keywords they tend to type into Google. If you do those three things, while amassing local proof via customer reviews and quality backlinks, you should start to see your company rise in Google’s rankings. Good luck!