The digital world moves at breathtaking speed; it can be tricky to keep up with the latest developments and this is especially true for smaller businesses which may not have the budget to compete with the heavy hitters when it comes to software, personnel, and online presence.
This means that it’s vital for small businesses to remember just how important a local search engine optimization (SEO) strategy can be when it comes to ensuring they’re front and center where it matters…locally.
Search engines don’t stay the same; they move on and get smarter with each passing day but that doesn’t mean that SEO is outmoded…despite what you may hear at times. You need to understand how to use the tools which are out there and more importantly you need to keep your business up front and center if you want the public to remain aware of it and SEO is one way to ensure that you’re not forgotten.
All good SEO depends on the great content and a great website but approaching local SEO requires different methods of practice. There are certain practices and requirements which will affect your local rankings and as a small business, it’s local rankings that matter.
With many smaller details to consider when thinking about local SEO, it’s worth giving some time to learn more about the 5 aspects of local SEO which really matter.
1: Each location will need its own targeted landing page
This is vital if you want to grab organic rankings in different areas. Each landing page needs to be carefully considered and strategies put in place to ensure that it appeals to its target location. It will need to include all the following details.
Unique URL as well as a page title
Your businesses name and contact details
“How to find us” which will include a map and directions as well as travel info
Information detailing your product and or services
Your opening hours
Contact us forms
Social media buttons
Unique meta descriptions that include location keywords
It’s not good enough to copy the same landing page repeatedly with the only changes made being the city or town names. That will attract the attention of the bots which crawl search engines for issues and you will be notified of duplicate content and receive a penalty.
Remember these key tips and you’ll be fine.
Responsiveness is everything; ensure your pages are easy for all devices to navigate.
Copy should be well-written, correctly presented with no errors and easy to read.
Descriptions should always include keywords which will improve search engine rankings.
2: Local listings needs to be optimized and citations should be consistent
The website which you create for your business is not the natural place for all your customers to search when they’re looking for a product or service. It may be “home” to you but it’s not to consumers.
The public mainly utilizes places like Facebook, Google, Yelp, Urbanspoon and Tripadvisor when searching for what they need; therefore, you need to have your business listed on popular social media in addition to every single one of the main search engines…not just Google…but Bing and Yahoo.
Your Google+ Local page is vital; any information which is included in your Google My Business dash will account for almost 15% of your local SEO ranking and that’s a lot!
Categorisation is another important consideration to make when it comes to your local rankings. The categories which you select when you list your business are what the search engines use to work out which businesses appear to people searching particular terms.
Optimization of your listings can be rather time-consuming but it is important to remember that each of your listings should include your NAP, your contact details including a phone number and these in addition to a description of your services and or products.
If you really want to get all you can from your listings, you should also include the following.
Ratings or reviews
What special services you offer
Keep your information up-to-date and accurate; because Google checks facts, any inconsistencies will potentially damage your rankings.
3: The importance of local content strategy
Local content includes far more than blog posts and landing pages and requires a little research and insight.
If you really want to optimize your content, then you need a solid strategy in place to ensure you’re reaching out to the right market.
Know your customer: You should have a clear understanding of your ideal customer; who they are, where they shop, what they want. Then you need to create a strategy to ensure you appeal directly to that person.
Positioning: A positioning strategy is the act or acts of narrowing down your audience. Honing in on a small niche which you and only you can be a specialist in. By knowing your ideal customer, you will narrow your market and can then provide highly targeted content designed expressly for them.
Publish content regularly: Produce regular content which is up-to-date, seasonally appropriate and relevant to your customer.
Promote, promote, promote: Use social media to its full potential. Let your customers know what’s new, what’s old, what’s coming up. They won’t remember you unless you’re there under their noses on their social media pages. This is where competitions and giveaways are useful, as are news stories which are related to your industry.
4: Reviews…promote and utilize
Your reviews are extremely powerful tools and you should utilize them at every opportunity. They’re proof of your businesses performance and people trust other people when it comes to choosing a service provider or a product.
Recent research illustrates how over 90% of consumers read online reviews and most importantly, act on their findings. Encouraging your customers to leave reviews is just one part of harnessing the power of opinion, you need to work out a strategy to encourage your customers to leave one in the first place….and hopefully, a positive one. Successful strategies are not difficult to implement and tend to look similar when compared. They are usually…
Clearly outlined: This means that your strategy needs crystal clear objectives. You need to understand which sites you want reviews on and why as well as how many you want to appear monthly.
Simple to understand: Make sure that your review process is easy to understand for everyone, both customers, and your employees.
Delivered quickly: It’s best if you can ensure reviews are delivered as soon as the product or service has been delivered.
Remember that customers don’t have to leave a review but you can make it attractive for them to do so by not only offering first class service and products but also by offering prize draws or giveaways to reviews which are left within a certain time-frame.
5: Your performance…keeping it in check
Failure to collect data which will indicate just how your SEO campaign is performing will result in a stale and fail performance very quickly. You should keep an eye on how your campaign is performing by measuring your ROI…otherwise how will you improve your strategy?
The following is the bare minimum of information you should have.
The average cost per click of local ads
Local keywords which refer traffic to your site
How many page sessions are resulting in conversion and what your average click through rate is
The number of fresh Google reviews you’re receiving monthly
The tools to measure these key performance indicators are available and whatever you choose, remember to ensure that it is fully up-to-date with the latest changes to Google’s search location filter.
There was a big change in 2015 which did disrupt many tools’ data and these changes meant that information was not always accurate.
Ensuring you have the right tools means that you will be able to choose the best and most useful keywords for your local SEO campaign and to monitor not only your ranking data but also that of your competitors.
In conclusion, it should be remembered that SEO best practices don’t go away when you’re optimizing local SEO. You need to ensure that your content is valuable to your target market and that does take dedication and hard work.
Looking for shortcuts won’t pay off in the long term and ensuring that things are as they should be in the early stages, will mean that your business will benefit in a discernible way as your audience grows.
Source: Jessica Whitton for montereypremier.com