Whether you own a local business or a mom and pop store, marketing your it online is no longer an option but a must.
Now that more people turn to the internet to search for the nearest business that can cater to their needs, it’s important that business owners show up where online searchers need them to be.
This is where local SEO comes in. Local SEO (Local Search Engine Optimization) is a lot different from the typical SEO you know in a way that the former has a geographical component.
Basically, all the local SEO tips you’re going to apply are geared towards boosting your online presence in a specific location.
- Why is Local SEO Important for Local Businesses?
- How to Draw More Customers to Your Shop (10 Local SEO Tips)
- 2. Add great images to your Google My Business listing.
- 7. Have a local content marketing strategy.
- 8. Use schema markup.
- 9. Optimize your business website for mobile devices.
- 10. Build separate pages for multiple locations.
Why is Local SEO Important for Local Businesses?
Perhaps the biggest reason to optimize your business for local SEO is that it brings a constant stream of customers through your doors.
According to Think with Google, 50% of prospective customers looking for local business information using their smartphones proceed to a store.
The increase in the number of people using their mobile devices has led to people’s convenience of being able to access their nearest neighborhood shop.
Here are some more stats on Think with Google that reveal the importance of local SEO:
- 18% of local searches on smartphones lead to in-store purchases within the same day.
- People look for local business information whether they’re at home, on the bus, at work, inside a shop or at a bar.
- More than 70% of consumers want local ads to have directions and call buttons.
Let’s say you’re a traveler in New York looking for possible coffee shops you can relax. Using your smartphone, you type in the search terms “New York coffee shops.”
Google search results should be able to show you a list of coffee shops near you, along with their specific directions, telephone number, business hours, photos, and more.
How to Draw More Customers to Your Shop (10 Local SEO Tips)
In this section, we’re going to tackle ten essential strategies to rank higher on local search results and generate more sales.
1. Be present on Google My Business.
Having a profile on Google My Business is more than necessary. This alone ensures that your local business shows up on search, maps, and Google+ when people type in keywords related to your products or services.
Since Google dominates the market in terms of its number of global users (1.17 billion), it only makes good business sense to claim your listing on this search engine. After all, you can use Google My Business for free.
To create your business listing, visit google.com/business. Enter all the business details required of you (business name, country, street address, website, etc.) and click Submit.
Verify your local business to make sure that the information you entered is correct. Also, verification ensures that you’re the only one who has access to your listing as the business owner.
There are multiple verification options (email, postcard, phone, etc.) depending on your local business listing. Regardless of the method, Google will provide you with a 5-digit code which you will use for verification.
2. Add great images to your Google My Business listing.
Photos are an important element of your Google My Business page. Customers who see your photos on search results will be able to immediately tell what your business is all about.
High-quality and relevant images positively influence people’s purchasing decisions. They make you stand apart from other local businesses in the same niche.
Consider adding your logo, profile photo, and a cover image.
Image source: Pexels
Most importantly, showcase business-specific photos that feature your products, team members at work, and interior and exterior areas of your establishment.
3. Claim other local business listings.
While Google is the top player when it comes to local search, it’s also important to include your local business in other online directories and search engines.
Getting listed elsewhere enhances your presence on the web, giving you an edge over bigger competitors who haven’t been listed. Also, this opens up more opportunities for you to establish connections and partnerships with other companies in the same industry.
You need to remember that customers do not only rely on Google to find business information but also in other places. Hubspot enumerates online local business directories or listings you need to appear on. Below are ten of them:
After you have listed your business on these sites, document these listings (including the login details) on a single spreadsheet so you can easily maintain them in the long run. Check your details from time to time to ensure that they’re accurate.
4. Ensure NAP consistency and accuracy.
One of the local SEO tips that you must strictly follow is to ensure listing accuracy. This means that regardless of the number of listings you have, your NAP data should be consistent all throughout.
NAP stands for a local business’ Name, Address, and Phone number.
Put in mind that slight variations of any of your business’ details (let’s say an old phone number or address) creates mixed signals each time Google shows your information to local searchers.
Inaccurate listings elsewhere can override what you’ve provided on Google My Business.
So, if you’ve failed to update your address on other sites, this will confuse your customers.
Furthermore, NAP inconsistencies do not only lower your credibility, they also affect your ability to rank on search. As you already know, higher rankings mean more traffic, conversions, and sales.
As a general rule, local businesses with accurate and consistent NAP tend to rank higher. This is because search engines, especially Google, aim to provide the most relevant results to online searchers.
If you’ve noted all the places where you’re listed on (recall the use of a spreadsheet I’ve mentioned previously), check the sites and update them yourself. You can also use a paid service to help you fix multiple inconsistencies to save time.
5. Optimize your social networks.
Social media plays a vital role in increasing people’s awareness of your local business.
With the majority of people using social media sites on a regular basis, creating a social media presence and optimizing it drastically boosts your walk-in customers.
Furthermore, following the best social media strategies increases the likelihood of your page to appear on search.
Here are some local SEO tips to use social media to attract more shop customers:
Choose the right social media platform.
You don’t need to be present on all social networking sites. While picking a social network based on size matters, it’s more important to consider the nature of your business and customer demographic.
Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumbler are for businesses that use images. Examples are salons and gyms. If you’re a business-to-business brand, consider being on LinkedIn.
Leverage user-generated content.
User-generate content (abbreviated as UGC) helps your local brand shine on social media. Basically, UGC is any kind of content that’s created by a business’ customers.
The reason why UGC works so well in driving brand awareness, boosting social proof, and increasing people’s trust in a brand is that UGC is authentic.
Photos are a common form of UGC and they’re popularly used on Instagram. A great idea would be to launch a social media contest where you require your followers to upload a photo of themselves using your product. Ask them to use a campaign hashtag with your brand name to spread awareness.
Aerie, a lingerie and apparel retailer for women, leverages UGC through their #AerieREAL campaign:
6. Encourage people to leave reviews.
Can you honestly put your complete trust on a local business you know nothing about? One of the ways consumers decide whether a business is trustworthy or not is by reading its online reviews.
Based on Moz’s 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors, online reviews impact how Google ranks your business.
Moreover, the social proof that goes along with your customer reviews across local listing sites increases people’s confidence in your product or service.
Be sure to encourage your customers to write reviews on your Google My Business page. Users must be signed into their Google account in order to leave a review right from your business listing.
Also, don’t take other websites and search engines for granted. Reviews in other places are also important because they support the reviews that appear on Google.
Make it a regular practice to respond to these reviews to generate more engagement. Be prepared for negative reviews. Instead of shying away from them, see them as an opportunity to provide a better customer service.
7. Have a local content marketing strategy.
Think that content marketing only applies to global SEO? Think again. Content marketing is detrimental to the success of a local SEO campaign.
Small business owners have a competitive edge when it comes to creating content for their local audience. They’re able to run hyper-targeted campaigns geared towards a specific geographical location.
Local content helps boost the authority of your domain, attracts natural backlinks, and increases your brand awareness.
Besides, it’s much more difficult to rank on global search since you’re basically competing with every business in the world. If you haven’t started creating content with local information yet, now is the time to do so.
Follow these local SEO tips to create effective content for your local audience:
Incorporate local keywords.
Similar to researching keywords for global SEO content, use the Google Keyword Planner tool to look for local keywords. Don’t forget to specify your target location.
Incorporate these keywords into your on-page content. Make sure you tackle evergreen content and news-worthy topics that are relevant to your readers’ needs.
Promote your content.
Look for places where most of your target audiences spend their time on. These include social media networks, groups, and forums (such as Reddit and Quora).
A simple way to amplify your content on social media is by using social sharing buttons. On forum sites and groups, try to answer your audience’s questions related to your topics and leave links to your content.
8. Use schema markup.
Schema markup is a new form of SEO optimization that improves how search engines show your business information to online potential customers. It is a code that you simply incorporate into your website HTML.
Schema code that’s added to your site gets you better search visibility by adding rich snippets below your page title.
Rich snippets ensure that searchers learn a bit more about your local business than the usual information that’s normally displayed on SERPs. Customers will now see more interesting details such as your business testimonials, store hours, and even product prices.
Image source: Search Engine Land
These rich snippets help your business stand out from the local competition, increasing your site’s click through rate. Follow this guide by Kissmetrics to start using schema markup.
9. Optimize your business website for mobile devices.
It comes to no surprise that local searchers utilize smartphones and other mobile devices as their primary tool to reach businesses.
Sadly, not all business sites perform well and look good on mobile. This gives users poor experiences. Often, a bad user experience results in a high bounce rate.
Mobile optimization considers several aspects. These include the page speed, website design, and structure. Below are ways to make sure that you satisfy your mobile visitors’ experiences.
- Use a responsive theme that automatically adjusts according to a user’s screen size and resolution.
- Avoid using flash to create effects. Instead, use HTML5.
- Use bigger text and buttons to ensure readability and prevent accidental clicks.
- Speed up your web pages by using a content delivery network (CDN), minifying your codes, optimizing your images, and minimizing redirects.
You may need to use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to check whether your web pages are optimized for mobile.
10. Build separate pages for multiple locations.
Does your business have multiple addresses? If so, never make the mistake of creating a single landing page for all those locations.
Create one local landing page for each location with unique content. This means that your NAP (name, address, phone number), testimonials, map, and other business details must be location-specific.
A page dedicated to specific location helps you get the right engagement from the right audience. Searchers coming from one area are able to find what they’re looking for as they arrive at your landing page.
Since it’s unrealistic to create several pages for all your locations at once, one of Moz’s local SEO tips is to prioritize the pages for your most important locations. Start building them first. Then, you can slowly optimize for the rest over time.
These ten local SEO tips will definitely help you win more walk-in customers in your geographical location.
Again, you need to improve your online presence with the help of local SEO if you want to stay relevant with today’s tough online competition. Be patient with the results.
No matter what strategies you use, remember to provide value to your target customers.